What is the point of the Labour Party?
Let’s start with this, from The Guardian:
‘Labour urged the government to publish its higher-education white paper, which was due in winter, instead of revealing policy in “dribs and drabs”. The shadow business secretary, John Denham, said: “David Willetts is clearly threatening public universities with cut-price competition from the private sector [which] do not need to meet the requirements of any regulator, or meet access criteria.
“Any discussion of new providers and ways of delivering higher education need to be considered in the context of a strategy for public and private institutions. It is a disgrace that the government have yet to publish a higher-education white paper, even though one was promised months ago.”‘
It’s at the bottom of an article about how David Willets wants to bring private providers into Higher Education: how he is starting to roll out a process that will turn British Higher Education into an American style system.
When the history books are written, what will they say about the role of the Labour Party in standing up for public education in this country?: “The Labour Party spokesman stood his ground. He did not waver. He mobilised the British People to firmly demand that the government’s auction of the welfare state happened in an orderly fashion”. Heroic.
Or what about Ed Miliband’s famous defence of public services?
The Noble Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition can stand tall. For as David Cameron pushed through legislation to end the NHS, Mr Miliband landed his first big punch on the PM. Labour activists squealed with delight. Ed forced Dave to fess up: he didn’t know whether or not Britain’s post NHS health service would be subject to EU competition law! Because it’s OK for Labour to privitise. But as soon as your privitisation forces our NHS to be subject to EU laws, it’s game over. The Tories are rubbish at privitising – only Labour can be trusted to do it right.
OK, that’s a little unfair. Ed Miliband has defended the principle of a public NHS (though not repudiated Labour’s mass privitisations). And that David Cameron doesn’t really seem to have any kind of a clue about the details of his own legislation is relevant. But why headline with the EU details? I once spent days doing questionnaires in a Tory area, knocking on doors and asking people about attitudes towards privitisation. I only found 2 people – literally 2 people out of hundreds – who were in favour of ‘part privitisation of the NHS’.
But the Labour Party (or, at least, its current leadership) is so ideologically compromised on these things, so bought into privitisation, and so generally rubbish, that they seem to insist on going for the technocratic point rather than standing up for democratically owned public services. And when the history books write about the great battle to defend Britain’s welfare state, it seems at the moment, they won’t bother to mention Labour. Because Labour will still be standing on the sidelines, waving EU competition laws and demands for government white papers. The battle will already have passed. Our services will have stood, or will have fallen.