Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It’s not just Blair who has to go

Patricia Hewitt, the minister who is in charge of putting the NHS out to tender, says there is no limit to the involvement of the private sector in what is supposed to be a public service. Hewitt told a conference on Tuesday that it was not her job to decide which organisations should provide NHS services. The outcome would depend on the "ingenuity" of rival "suppliers" and the "choices" made by patients and doctors. She also voiced support for David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, who has said up to 60 district general hospitals may lose accident and emergency departments.

Hewitt’s position is a calculated one, just like that of the government as a whole. New Labour is on a mission to merge public and private enterprises into a new corporate sector, one which is facilitated by the state. Hewitt has come – perhaps sunk is a better word - a long way – since she was general secretary of what was then the National Council for Civil Liberties, now Liberty. Then she defended ordinary people’s rights. Today, like the rest of New Labour, she defends the "right" of the corporate sector to make money out of an NHS that is actually paid for by the taxpayer. This is wealth redistribution alright – from wage earners to the corporations now taking over a hospital near you.

Tomorrow, workers at NHS Logistics stage a 24-hour strike against the privatisation of the distribution service, which is being sold off to the transnational DHL. A one-day action will not hurt this government at all, or get it to alter its policies. If Unison leaders were at all serious, they would call out all their NHS members on an indefinite action against the government. Restricting campaigns against New Labour to "Blair Out" also completely miss the point that it is the government as a whole that is rotten and reactionary to the core. No replacement prime minister can alter this fact.

The strategy should be to get rid of New Labour as a whole. Some might say that would only let the Tories back in. Well, apart from the fact that New Labour has acted like the Tories – only worse – since 1997, there’s not much to that argument. In any case, it looks as if the Tories will come out tops at the next general election. The best way to prepare for David Cameron’s Tories is to act now against New Labour.

The reality is that there is no parliamentary alternative to New Labour because the political system itself is as undemocratic and beyond reform as those who preside over it. Mobilising against New Labour to bring it down would open up a much-needed debate about what kind of political system is needed to tackle the big questions like climate change, terrorism, corporate-driven globalisation, health and housing. Better to adopt this approach than to delude people that pressure or changing leaders will alter the nature of the New Labour beast. Things are much too far gone for that.

Paul Feldman, communications editor

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Paul,
The PM has dictated to me a response to your 'musings' on The NHS, as part of our initiative of outreach to the public to let them know why we are right.About everything.
Under a Labour administration the NHS has never received such record funding as it does at present thanks entirely to our brave series of reforms. I think it's obvious to see the fruits of our Labour (if you'll excuse the pun - I thought of that, it wasn't Tony, He'd kill me if He found out I was ad - libing on one of his brilliant off the cuff emails, anyway!) - there's Costa Cafes to be found in every hospital, up and down the country. TV can also be bought by patients at £3.50 a day garenteeing more choice for the plebs in beds. Never this under the Tories. But we are not ones to boast.
I'm sorry to be so patronising, but I can't help it. (I am refering to myself here, obviously this applies to Tony too.)
I hope this explains why we are right. Again.
Patricia Hewitt(MP & Cabinet minister)
P.S I really don't think your crowd of around thirty members (MI5 classified intelligence - top secret)will ever be remembered like Tony's historic three terms in office. Touche!