Any time any government anywhere tries public sector reform they meet a wall of resistance from the tenured bureaucracy…even when that bureaucracy is smashed and defeated they start on rear-guard actions and even guerrilla actions in order to handicap and white-ant policy.
They care little for democracy…thinking they know best. Nowhere is this more evident than in the health and education sectors.
According to the socialists, the only people qualified to comment on public policy in health and education are conveniently those who suck from the systems in need of reform, and the unions who give them sustenance.
In our politics today, hardliners who lost recent battles over social reforms designed to bring more choice and competition into schools, health and welfare services are regrouping for a new wave of local-level disruption. The casualties will be ordinary people’s aspirations.
Ideologues on the Right, who lost the argument for more zealous reforms, now only complain from largely ignored sidelines. The hard Left, however, which vehemently opposes change to how our public services operate, is shifting its attack. Its activists are mobilising to infiltrate the very public bodies being set up to deliver the reforms they oppose, aiming to undermine them from within.
Take the policy that will give NHS patients the right to choose where to be treated for nothing by any qualified health provider, including private ones. The trade unions’ recent national conferences urged activists to subvert this by penetrating the citizen panels governing NHS bodies. A new “guidebook” has appeared listing the bodies to infiltrate, saying “the involvement of local activists can help identify at the earliest stage when there are moves to bring in private providers so that this can be challenged”.
Assisting this on the ground is the Socialist Health Association, which is beginning a nationwide programme called “Defending the NHS from the Inside”, driving forward a plan to “get people elected to governing bodies”. A series of “NHS for Beginners” classes to train local people was launched for the group by an MP in Parliament just before Christmas.
And it is happening in education as well:
In schools reform, too, the argument about raising standards through teaching excellence has been won – as has the debate over new free schools to expand local choice for parents denied access to a good school. But while Michael Gove impressively chalks up the wins in Westminster debates, localised strikes and threats of walkouts by unions are being organised for as little as schools wanting more rigorous staff appraisals. These hit schools in the run-up to Christmas in areas such as Sheffield, South Shields and High Wycombe. Letters are also being distributed to local parents talking non-specifically of the “threats” and “risks” of the new academies and free schools emerging, which have “profound implications for children”. The latest propaganda tells parents, with no explanation or evidence, that free schools and academies aim “to turn state education into a free-market free-for-all and to provide opportunities for the private sector to make a profit”.
The real casualties of all this are not Government policies, but the ordinary families who strive for better chances and a better quality of life. And the politicians meant to stand up for them are blissfully unaware of it.
The question is though, how to combat this? I think that is another post.