Thursday, 27 June 2013

MK says no to privatisations

My article in this week’s Cornish Guardian focuses on my opposition to the privatisation of public services. It was as follows:

The economic problems of the last few years were not caused by those ordinary people, who are now suffering the harsh consequences of damaging cuts to public services.

It remains my view that the problems were caused by an over-heating housing market, the failure of the political classes to regulate the financial sector, a credit bubble and irresponsible lending.

And it saddens me that the Coalition Government is wielding an ideological axe to turn a crisis caused by the private sector into a crisis for the public sector throughout the United Kingdom.

I am particularly fearful at the determination of the Coalition to privatise a range of public services.

Many readers of the Cornish Guardian may not be fully aware that central government has already privatised the UK’s helicopter search and rescue service. From 2017, the service will not be provided by squadrons of the RAF and the Royal Navy, but by the Bristow Group – an American private company.

I believe that is simply wrong that such vital services could be provided by private companies, whose main objective is to make profits for their shareholders.

One defence analyst has praised the RAF and Royal Navy for providing a “fantastic” service over many years. He has pointed out that most search and rescue services, around the world, remain in the hands of the state. And he has noted how “this is a big operation” and that a “lot of people’s lives are at risk,” challenging the appropriateness of introducing the “profit motive” into the service.

I also agree with the senior politician who slammed the Government for “flogging air-sea rescue” which he described as the “thin edge of the wedge.” He added, “is there nothing that [the] Coalition Government will not sell in an attempt to reverse their own economic malaise?”

But it gets worse. The Coalition still has plans to privatise the Royal Mail and the “loan book” made up of existing student loans.

The sell-off of the Royal Mail is opposed by the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters, which has “serious concerns over the future of the post office network,” and even a prominent Conservative think-tank has warned MPs against the privatisation. And the potential loss of the loan book has been condemned as “short-termist” and “contemptuous of citizens.”

Once again, I would urge the Government to re-think its approach to the provision of public services.

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