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The business model is not right for Public Services.
At last we might be turning away from the mania for hiving off all our public services.
Those of us old enough to have parents who remember the ‘panel doctors‘ of pre–NHS days have little doubt about the political and social miracle that is our NHS. Rather troubling, with the passing of the years, the following generations have learned too little about what a close–run thing it was back in 1949. The medical establishment almost strangled it at birth; but there were stronger forces at work then. Soldiers and officers coming back from the war with a high moral certainty about making changes; the deprivations of the 1930s, the General strike of 1926 and the Jarrow hunger marches were in living memory and the model of the Tredegar Workmen’s Medical Aid Society became the National Health Service – it wasn’t fear inducing socialism but co–operative mutuality at its finest..
Under the Tories, as an example,the insanely ideological idea that a complex public utility like the probation service can be reduced to a target driven private enterprise has begun to unravel. Similarly, with Army recruitment – Capita’s recruitment targets do not inspire anyone to lay down their life for their country, of course not – wound up and returned to the public sector at a cost of well over £500 million!
Schools similarly were once largely publicly owned and run by local authorities. They had clear values, aims and purposes and had nothing to do with short–term profit (and high salaries for the senior managers) that the Academy groups that run most of our secondary schools are driven by. The near tragic narrowing of the curriculum, the exclusion of everything other than subjects that can be reduced to numerical data on a spreadsheet feeds into the lack of a wider perspective that allows complex questions to be reduced to simplistic binary choices that divides rather than combines people.
So,support your local school (93% of children attend non private education) most effectively by asking probing questions about the Academy that runs it.
Is there profit being syphoned off? Sometimes I fear there is.
We pay the taxes necessary to run the schools we want and need for our children. These should be run with an adherence to values and principles that are decent, honourable and long–lasting. The public servants, the teachers and support staff that work there want to be just that, public servants.
The organisational principles and values of the Tredegar Workmen’s Medical Aid Society were right for then and are right for now.
Nick Andrews is a retired Head teacher and member of the Aylesbury Labour Party Exec Committee.
To follow :
Why Labour can be trusted on the Economy
A Greener, Fairer Future with Labour
Why the Conservatives have to go – corruption at the highest level
Enough of exploitation – our values are what make us different
Hire and re-hire will go