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The political class won’t “reconnect” until markets are drastically reformed

the-sopranos HERE TO SERVE‘Reconnecting’ is the buzz word for the political class. They all agree it’s necessary, but very few have any serious ideas about how it might be achieved, and through force of inertia they easily slip back into the old ways. What they don’t realise is that it’s more about their constituents feeling able to reconnect as it is for them.

At present, and it’s been true for a long time, ordinary people have been feeling they no longer have control over key aspects of their lives. If they believe they didn’t receive the healthcare they needed, they are unsure how to make their complaint effective. If they need a house, they don’t know how to get one. If they think there’s a significant problem at the local school, they’re uncertain how to get it dealt with if the head teacher is unsympathetic. If they’re angry that the big banks have shortchanged the country out of billions and should pay the price for it, who do they go to to make sure this happens when the governing party gets half its annual income from those same banks?

The prevailing Tory ideology says private markets are the answer. That means competitive providers offer more choice, regulators are there to ensure these markets work efficiently, and unelected quangos provide general oversight. That’s the theory (if indeed they really believe it). But it doesn’t work like that in practice at all. Huge private companies have now replaced nationalised industries or public sector organisations. G4S, Serco, A4E, Capita, and Atos are vast private conglomerates feeding off public contracts, but subject to virtually no public accountability at all. The big privatised companies, so far from being susceptible to public complaints, act like private cartels (the Big Energy 6 contol 99% of the retail market, with Centrica/British Gas alone controlling 42%) and sub-contract complaints to call centres which do not have the power to effect significant change.

The fragmentation of what are in effect public services (i.e. providing services which are essential and used by the whole nation) has left nobody obviously responsible. Who do you ring up to ensure that you can see your local doctor in less than 2 weeks? If teachers at the local academy are not carrying out their proper role, how do you involve Ofsted? If house-building is now failing (it’s at a quarter of the level it reached in the 1960s) and demand is going through the roof, who do you contact to complain that you desperately need a house? If your energy bills keep on going up relentlessly and all the Big 6 move in lockstep, who do turn to – unless you’re lucky enough to have Ed Miliband’s freeze to get you out of the hole? It’s not surprising ordinary people feel out of the loop – they are.

2 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    Well I have just lost my dentist for my two grandson once they reach eighteen he drops them saying he will not be carry out NHS work, so I was told to phone NHS direct in Wales they gave me a number to phone, I was told OK they have placed my two grandson on a register to be given a place at an NHS dentist, I said how long oh right well maybe a year maybe two or it could be longer.

    So I wrote to my MP, councilor, AM, I had a reply saying my letter had been received, but the rest did not bother because they are fed up telling us we have no shortages of NHS dentist and I make things up well maybe so but I’ve not seen an NHS dentist for ten years if I need emergency dental work we have a dentist who does the druggies and drunks or vagrants or people who are immigrants and cannot get free dental or NHS.

    The last time I was down at the surgery with my grandson two men were fighting over a syringe full of drugs in the end they shared in right in the surgery waiting room Jesus I feel like a stranger in my own country.

    I will not be voting labour the attack on our young people now is enough to make me vote UKIP I would vote for any party which was to the left but the greens are hooked up on issues I do not much care about, and Plaid is to labour for me, so it’s UKIP

  2. Dave Roberts says:

    Strange how the one thing you didn’t mention was immigration. That should ave been top of the list.

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