Sunday, March 28, 2004
The one thing that has always puzzled me about New Labour is why they embraced so completely the concept of a market-economy for public services driven by the need to offer choice to customers. Certainly, my priorities in using public services have been that they should be accessible, free at the point of delivery or at the very least priced reasonably and in a way that does not exclude people, and of a good quality. These objectives can be achieved without competition and without the need for a choice through the properly targetted investment of sufficient resources, long-term planning and effective management. It was no surprise to me therefore to read reports that Government polls are showing that voters are shunning Labour plans to offer them choice in how they use public services. The Guardian reports that it seems voters do not regard choice as relevant to their lives, and simply want local schools and hospitals to be efficient and available. Will the Government listen? Well if the evidence from The Big Conversation is anything to go by then no, they will not.