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The threat to Britain’s libraries and public service

February 2, 2011

There is essentially a deep ideological battle about Britain’s public services and its funding of key cultural and educational institutions.

The Tories want to hack them away from the state and make them profitable or place them in the voluntary sector. To complete this they are disingenuously using the idea of community or society, which we all believe are attractive and important forces for social cohesion, and to cloak the overall vision of monetising them, to use that horrible internet word.

The Tories love the idea of the third sector (see the satire on ‘The Fourth Sector’ in The Thick of It) as it reduces the cost to the public purse.

For example, the Tories want to shut libraries and schools and other public services and push the dogma of volunteerism – if you love it so much do it yourself. Why? It cuts capital and labour costs.

What replaces it? Well, there is a vast industry involved in bidding for grants, largely governed and administrated by powerful and well connected private sector companies – but still currently in partnership with the public sector.

Take away the public sector and you have a wonderfully fluid and profitable sector of public life run by private sector companies.

What results in education, the health service or education? Well organised special interest groups, usually private companies, delivering services where they are profitable.

Look at employment services – Reed et al. Clinton-style reform of the public services rendered in public private enterprise form, but delivered for profit with the reform of welfare and its savings at its core.

That’s a specific example to the labour sector, but it is one that will be rolled out across all of Britain’s public sector.

The sad thing is that many senior Tories have convinced themselves into buying into the idea of the Big Society as a post New Labour sincere embracing of reform of public services as an empowering force. In actual fact, it’s just a delusional post modern New Labour-style Orwellian linguistic exercise that assuages themselves of the guilt of actually being Thatcherite.

Or, if you are more cynical, they are just pissing on your head and telling you it is raining.

Leave it to Fr Ted:

Father Ted: What was it he used to say about the needy? He had a term for them…

Father Dougal McGuire: A shower of bastards.

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