Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Mutual Disrespect

As one of those in our movement frequently troubled by the question; "The TUC - just what is it for?" I have to admit that the Touchstone Blog sometimes provides a positive answer.

A fine example is the recent post about the fate of public service mutuals (http://touchstoneblog.org.uk/2012/04/mutuals-0-markets-1/). Let's be clear, the Government's spiel about mutuals is no more than dust kicked up around privatisation.

Only a fool would believe that the Tory Coalition Government gave a damn about co-operation (though there do seem to be some fools about!)

This is different in the case of some Labour Councils who may sincerely believe that "mutualisation" is a positive alternative to privatisation, which may even provide some protection from future privatisation.

From experience, I can say that "progressive" enthusiasm for mutualisation of public services is generally (and sometimes wilfully) ignorant. The genuine practical difficulties are consistently underestimated on a grand scale. The future risk of privatisation is also generally - and I fear wilfully - underestimated.

When the history of this decade comes to be written, I fear that it will be told that enthusiasts (http://www.co-operative.coop/corporate/Public-Service-Mutuals-/) for "public service mutuals" were no more than "useful idiots" (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot) for a Tory Coalition Government hell-bent on privatisation who were happy to borrow progressive clothes in order to achieve deeply reactionary ends.

It is important to understand what is at stake in the defining struggle of our generation. The social gains won by our grandparents - who compelled states established to reproduce the conditions of existence of a society founded on exploitation nevertheless to concede their responsibility for human welfare - stand to be lost on the altar of profit.

In this context, the froth of "mutuals" and "social enterprises" is - at (very) best an irrelevance and (more often) is a Trojan Horse for privatisation. We face the hardest years of our lives now to defend our public services. We won't do it by being "co-operative" I'm afraid.
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