Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/207/8511
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Keep The Private Vultures Out
LABOUR'S GLOSSY new manifesto says they want to contract state-run services out to private-sector firms. Behind the gloss lies a grubby plan. Workers are furious at Blair's "big idea". New Labour wants to put our public services at the tender mercies of big business.
Blair claims he won't run down the public sector and points to recent spending increases. But New Labour - and the Tories before them - have neglected public-sector spending for decades.
Even the recent increases only came after three years of very tight control by Labour. The capital investment budget of the Department of the Environment, for instance which covers transport, social housing and regional development, is still nearly 40% lower in real terms than in 1993 and 1994.
Now New Labour wants to fill in the gaps with money from profit-grasping pirates. Their experience with new hospitals built under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) shows the dangers.
Dudley Hospitals NHS Trust recently signed a PFI deal which gives companies such as McAlpines a chance to make profits out of local health services. The deal's estimated cost has already risen from £60 million to £137 million. No wonder Dudley hospital workers have held a series of strikes against PFI.
PFI means fewer beds. In Bedford and Durham hospitals there has been a 40% drop in beds. NHS workers suffer too. Union activists fear that they will earn poverty pay in newly privatised companies. That's hardly an incentive to keep staff in essential services.
Privatisation is massively unpopular. Just look at the chaos on the railways seven months after the Hatfield crash. That's what happens when private profit-makers, helped by huge subsidies from public money, run our basic services. Would you trust any of Railtrack's bosses to run your NHS?
New Labour are well advanced on this project to please the profit-crazed businessmen who are Blair's cronies.
We say keep the private vultures out! In fact all services privatised under Labour and the Tories should be renationalised.
We demand full public funding for our public services. Vote for Socialist candidates and fight for a society where working-class people run our services.
In The Socialist 25 May 2001: