Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ Unmasked – Neoliberal Evisceration of UK Public Services
David Cameron let the Tory cat out of the bag today when he revealed that privatising Britain’s entire public sector was at the heart of his Big Society agenda.
In an article for the right-wing Daily Telegraph Mr Cameron said he wanted to end the “state monopoly” on public services by removing all barriers to private companies taking over schools, hospitals, transport and all other council services.
But trade unions and public-sector campaigners warned the Prime Minister that he would have a “bare-knuckle fight” on his hands if he tried to go through with the plans.
Under his proposals, coalition ministers would be allowed to flog off public services without parliamentary scruitiny — a measure which has delayed the sell-off of Royal Mail.
Instead of having to justify the introduction of private competition to areas of public service provision like the NHS and schools, the state will in future have to explain why it should be allowed to operate a monopoly.
Mr Cameron claimed that the changes, to be set out in a white paper within the next fortnight, would release the public sector from “the grip of state control” and give power back to people.
Unions and left politicians retorted that privatisation of public services would remove people’s right to hold elected bodies to account on delivery and push back living standards to pre-1920s levels.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Privatisation replaces democratic oversight and accountability with a contract culture. Voters and service users lose their say in what will be a get even richer quicker scheme for the companies that win contracts.
“Public service workers should be very afraid. The real profits will come from attacking their terms and conditions, and will only entrench the longest decline in living standards for ordinary people since the 1920s.”
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis accused Mr Cameron of wanting to turn the clock back to a time when access to schools and hospitals was a privilege, not a right.
“This is not about modernisation. It is about privatisation and creating an open market for the Tories’ friends in big business to make billions out of our public services,” he said.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the Tories would “privatise the air we breathe” if they could get away with it.
“He will have a bare-knuckle fight on his hands as trade unions join with local communities to defend everything from hospitals to the Fire Service,” he said.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “If the government is prepared to listen when half a million sign a petition against the forest sell-off, just think what double that amount on the streets of London on March 26 could achieve.”
And Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths said: “Mr Cameron’s Big Society will hand over the public sector to a handful of monopolies. This underlines the need for united and militant action to block Con-Dem policies and bring down a government which has no democratic mandate.”