Privatisation and more cuts
- where’s our debate in Labour?
Two aspects of the Tory Government’s response to the COVID 19 crisis have been their complete contempt for any Parliamentary accountability and the cover it has given them to privatise whole swathes of Government services.
The Government bonanza for private firms first hit the headlines when companies with no track record were awarded mouth-watering sums of public money to buy PPE equipment.
Huffington Post reported in August : “PPE contracts worth £186m, the second largest amount spent with any PPE supplier, went to UK logistics firm Uniserve Limited, whose multi-millionaire owner is listed as a speaker for the influential pro-Brexit lobby group Prosperity UK. Other speakers listed on the site include chancellor Rishi Sunak and cabinet minister Michael Gove.”
They went to report “Another two large PPE contracts worth £49m in total went to a company, Initia Ventures Ltd, with assets of only £100. Companies House records list it as dormant.”
The subsequent failures in PPE provision, the millions wasted on underused Nightingale hospitals and the even bigger scandal of the track and trace contracts for an app that never worked and a system that fails are also legendary.
But beneath all this unaccountable and corrupt practice is an even more worrying element – the systematic privatisation of public services with no opportunity for this to be publicly challenged.
So where is Labour on this in Westminster? So far, a few statements of outrage and demands for an inquiry but very little public campaigning on such wholesale privatisation of public services.
And this seems to be the general thrust of Labour under Starmer. Don’t rock the boat for fear of upsetting Tory electors who might vote Labour at the next election.
The trouble with this electoral strategy is what Labour is left with when power is finally secured (and that is not guaranteed).
And this ‘don’t rock the boat’ attitude seems to be a feature of local government too. Councils are facing a financial crisis to dwarf the last ten years of austerity. Salami slicing budgets to keep all services running is no longer an option.
Closure of whole functions is being forced on Labour councils and there has been no public acknowledgement so far in Sheffield. What is needed is an open debate within Sheffield Labour Party about the choices facing our elected representatives.
Should money be spent propping up John Lewis if it means more vital services for the homeless are cut? Is funding leisure venues across the city such as Ponds Forge a priority if the Council cannot pay for support for vulnerable children?
Labour councillors are elected to represent the Labour Party and these decisions need the widest possible discussion and debate before such unthinkable choices have to be made.
Labour Party NEC Elections - Vote Left
Please vote for the following in the NEC elections.
Two from the Labour Left Alliance (LLA)
Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal
Plus, despite our criticisms regarding the way the slate was chosen, the CLGA slate of six:
It is unlikely that your vote will go beyond these 8, but if it does then please consider your 9th and 10th choices to be for the two other Labour Left Alliance candidates nominated in Sheffield: