Privitisation and attacking democratic freedoms, the Tories are it again, but this time they have had to come up with a new PR campaign: The Big Society.
In the eighties the Torys’ free market arguments were used as the reason to attack unions and privitise industries all with the promise of what is good for the free market is good for Britain. Now, having followed those principals for the last thirty years or so, we find ourselves in this awful recession with very few politicians, or communtators in the main stream media, actually discussing the flaws of the deregulated economy and political model. When the “meltdown” hit we were all told about the swell of anger aimed at the banks and the media was content to show this on a regular basis, but what was not explained so readily was that people knew this went deeper than greedy bankers: it was the underlying political ideology of deregulation and free markets that crashed the economy. Not to worry then, an election should allow us to change political direction. Well no, if you disagreed with New Labour the other option for power was The Conservatives (or as they are now called: the coalition), who sit to the right of the party that helped guide us into this mess.
So what now? The Tories are well aware of what caused the crash, the boom bust-cycle is well understood in the economic classes of Oxbridge, but they will strive to continue the deregulated free market policies because it allows extreme private wealth to soar. Of course, now they are hit with a problem: us. If the popluation has made the connection between the deregulation of the financial sector, the right wing ideology, the Tories (and New Labour) and the recession and the government were to try to use the old argument “what is good for the free market…” they would be laughed out the room in light of current events. Enter Big Society.
The Tories previously argued privitisation increased efficiency, profitablilty and overall was better for us all. The Tories under Big Society don’t talk of privitisation, instead services will be run by community groups, volunteers, charities and, say this one quietly, businesses. With Big Society it is not just that taxes can be lowered, we in fact don’t need to pay for some services at all: at most, to fund services in your area a “Community Bank” will provide interest loans so that a business model can be followed and a profit saught out from each and everyone of us, whether its the mother needing a mid wife, an empoverished pensioner looking for some support or a heroin user trying to get clean, all are an investment opportunity. Finally, the Tory of 2010-2015 will not pick their main fight with the unions, no, now it appears they have a much bigger target in sight. Your vote and say in your local area. Their argument is that if you think your elected council was inefficient and ineffective then cut them out of the picture, the communtiy bank would decided what type of services should be run in your area. Never mind if the banker is unelected, may know nothing of the area, and above all must think of balance sheets. This, to my eye, is the biggest insult of Big Society. This is an attack on our voting power and worse still, considering how much hatred and distrust there is towards the banks, to suggest we put the responsibility for local services (including the care of the vulnerable) into the hands of bankers is disgusting and shows the absolute contempt the Tories have for public opinion.
The reasons the Tories are giving for their right wing policies may be changing but the underlying principals are the same. To them, while there is a welfare state there are unnecessary taxes to be paid and a immense investment opportunity. As long as the population can organise and vote we are a threat to their wealth and power. As such the Tories will always attack public services and democratic processes. And so the fight tragically rumbles on with new words for old ideas.