An easy to guide where to look for stories from now on, is to ask yourself which areas of our public sector are structurally invisible to political debate. Which are the areas that all parties agree on? The consensus. That guides how much of a yard sale there has been and how visible they are, how eroded they have become and provide a fair guide to the future development of our free at point of use, universal health care system.. Lack of consequences for MPs usually means lack of consideration for that policy area and skeletons can hide there. The bits of the public sector it was easiest to break up and prepare for market liberation. The things that don’t need to be discussed so aren’t.
,,,take a look at the education market, It was fairly shocking as it was, I once had a kid whose education provision was £25ok a year. That was quite a while ago and things were bad, they are now worse. Much. Free Schools expanded that market massively. With profits to plunder for a long time yet. Pay particular attention to alternative education provision.
Academies and Free Schools(if we are being honest) work by kicking out the ‘shit’ kids and dumping them in not very good quality education provision. A4E used to offer some of it. Not sure if they do now. It’s very very expensive. And it is in those kids education provision that money lies, with little requirement for quality cos you can blame it on the kids. Pupil Referral Units are interesting. And that is before you even get to contracted out Education Authorities. Serce ran our education authority and they fairly ran it into the ground. Stay outside the normal debate topics of ‘independent schools vs state schools’, that is only really to keep politicos busy. The real question is not state vs private, the real questions are in the markets that lie way behind that and reveal a very distressing picture about our education system and what has been done to it while politicos bickered in a distracting way.
Take a look at Childrens Services. For instance the cost of out of authority placements and teh effect of that on the threshold of risk-particularly with kids over 11. Maybe in context of recent stories about the sexual exploitation of young girls by gangs of older blokes. The resource situation in these teams is directly related to our inability to address that issue. Take a look at how many local authorities sold their care provision and are now letting children come to harm because they can’t afford the cost of those placements. Levels of agency staff, numbers of agency staff using tax exempt status, and the cost of that to local authorities. In fact, Surestart was more or less invented to prevent anyone looking at Childrens Services. A regular treasure trove. Social work exists to clean up social policy failure, it is there those failures are most visible.
Take a good hard look at social care. Really. You’ll have to be quick, there isn’t much left.
The areas of our public sector that are structurally invisible to political debate reveal many stories and many fundamental problems and questions that none of our politically motivated press are likely to want to cover, but will have no choice about in the next few years.
The left lacked a substantial critique of bureacracy and it’s effect, and the way it is used to exercise and erode power. Because ‘left’ are more concerned with dogma than reality. This critique is necessary if you want to make headway in addressing the erosion of marketisation and saving our NHS or welfare system. In these dull little areas of incomprehensible social policy, that critique lies. A4E was the very noxious tip of a very large iceberg that spans our public sector, and it was never supposed to be the bit that emerged first. You want to prevent what is about to happen to the NHS, you are going to have to treat political debate as obfuscatory, rather than related to policy development.
I know, I know, political journalists aren’t actually interested in the NHS beyond points for their party, but the rest of ya…