Barnet's long war against privatisation get's some well deserved publicity in today's Grauniad (http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/11/local-government-democracy-outsourcing-barnet?cat=commentisfree&type=article).
Following the recent setback for those who see local services primarily as a cash cow for shareholders in Cornwall, Barnet is now very much in the front line of attempts to divert taxpayers' money in the cause of profit.
The Guardian's John Harris rightly credits the legendary Barnet bloggers but omits to mention the absolutely vital, central role of Barnet UNISON branch (www.barnetunison.me.uk/) in sustaining, over several years, a lengthy struggle (sometimes against unanticipated obstruction and opposition).
Spending cuts are damaging (sometimes horrendously so) but privatisation can do permanent damage that is even harder to reverse (particularly if local authorities lose the assets and physical and managerial/organisational infrastructure which would enable them to deliver a service themselves).
We can all learn from the continuing struggle in Barnet, whether we are up against the "pure" Tory threat of privatisation to the vultures of the public services "industry" or the Tory-lite Progress inspired version peddled by those who misuse the word "cooperative" in this cause (http://www.councils.coop/).
Our trade unions require a process of rejuvenation and decentralisation if we are to engage effectively with the prospect of dozens, if not hundreds, of local authorities taking the "Barnet Road" over the next couple of years. The imagination, persistence and agility of Barnet UNISON has been and is an example to us all.
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Monday, November 12, 2012
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