Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Choice and privatisation in Wales

Peter Black has some fun with Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for Rhondda, who is calling on the Welsh Assembly to embrace the choice agenda being advanced by the government in England.

Peter's blog is one of the most valuable in the Lib Dem blogosphere, but two things worry me about this posting.

First, he slides too easily from talking about choice to talking about privatisation. Chris Bryant must speak for himself, but Liberals, with our long interest in mutualist and cooperative organisations, no there is more to it than that. And, where the state is running things badly, is it really so terrible to suggest that other people might have a try?

Second, Peter says:
Given that the privatising agenda that Chris Bryant wants the Welsh Assembly to adopt is only being championed here by the Welsh Conservative Group, then the solution seems obvious. At the next Assembly elections he should vote with his conscience and put his cross next to the name of his local Tory candidate.
All very amusing, but if I were a Tory strategist I would be delighted to see my opponents toying with a slogan like: "If you want choice in public services, vote Conservative." We should not make things that easy for them.

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Mmm yes. I used the word privatisation in that passage for precisely that reason. In Wales choice is strongly linked with privatisation and there is strong public opinion opposed to it. I realise that they are not necessarily the same thing and that there are many shades of grey involved but Chris Bryant's pamphlet does not acknowledge that subtlely.

For him the Blair agenda is immutable even though in education especially the comprehensive system is serving Wales very well indeed and the quality of that education continues to rise without the need to resort gimicks such as academies etc.

In health, Bryant does have a point but it is possible to deliver the sort of solutions being used in England through the public sector and that fits the mood of the Country here.