Sunday, August 29, 2010

Creative destruction returns.

The pace of change and the complete lack of consultation is terrifying in its high-handedness, but it is also representative of a belief within the Tory party that 'public services would benefit from a period of creative destruction' - an idea proposed by Conservative parliamentary candidate Danny Kruger back in 2005. The outrage was such that he was swiftly removed as PPC for Sedgefield - hardly a likely Tory target given the then incumbent MP, some chap called Blair, if I recall correctly. Kruger didn't disappear into obscurity, though. An old Etonian, he ended up as part of the Cameron inner circle post-election before he left politics in 2007/8.

It seems that his Schlumpertarian views have held sway within the party since, hence the flood of proposals - not all of them manifesto commitments or even necessarily in the Coalition document - across local government, central government, health and education.

Health, in particular, is under attack. For all Cameron's professed love for the NHS, looking at Lansley's ham-fisted and untried proposals to carry out a root and branch restructuring of the NHS, which will take two years to carry out as a bare minimum and will take £2 billion from patient care in organisational costs, it seems that the aim is to remove both the national and service parts of the NHS. Targets are being scrapped and with them go the patients' guarantee of speed of treatment, the cap on private care within NHS hospitals is being removed, to make that an attractive option for NHS management, with the
outcome likely to be costs controlled by rationing and increased waiting lists. Look lovingly at the eighteen week treatment guarantee, because you won't see it again under this government unless you are prepared to pay.

I predict that the health service will be allowed to wither and the private sector providers - such generous supporters of the Conservatives - will be ready to step in to vacuum up the middle class patients who can afford insurance premiums that will catapult them to the front of the queue. Public dissatisfaction will be allowed to rise - with those middle and upper earners increasingly unhappy that they have to pay for a service that they don't use - until the government decides that the best thing will be some form of social insurance rather than a universal offering.

And the same will happen to education and the benefits system, regardless of social cost. The post 1945 welfare state, a triumph of that Labour government, is under an attack of a scale beyond the dreams even of Thatcher, all justified by a global economic crisis caused by the banking system.

As a great man once said "I warn you not to fall ill...." He was right.

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