Public services over the past decade have suffered greatly in the face of Government cuts. Couple this with the lack of transparency in procurement and it appears that the society we all live in is, at best, a chumocracy, and at worst, a kleptocracy, rather than a functioning liberal democracy.
Labour has recently announced and committed to a ‘radical insourcing of public services and will end the use of lavish contracts for private sector providers like Serco, who have repeatedly failed to provide a service up to the expected standard.
The argument for outsourcing has long centred on the ‘efficiency’ of the private sector to provide value-for-money services yet, in reality, these contracts have been used to provide dividends to shareholders and to pump share prices, all whilst padding their profit and turnover figures.
Serco was awarded a £108 million contract to conduct contact tracing without a competitive tender process. Serco’s handling of the task has been incredibly poor, with low contact rates, as Dido Harding stated at the Health and Select Committee hearing recently.
Rachel Reeves said: “Serco didn’t see this pandemic as a crisis but as an opportunity to profit… We know that Serco have received millions in taxpayers’ money but little about what that has been spent on.”
She went on to say that “while this Tory Government has denied key workers in our public services a pay rise, they paid 900 management consultants at Deloitte £1,000 a day to work on test and trace.”
She also committed Labour to holding higher regulatory standards on this issue: “Labour will clean up government contracting by strengthening FOI, introducing a new Independent Anti-Corruption Commissioner, and an Integrity and Ethics Commission to make us a world leader in good governance and transparency.”
The pandemic has highlighted the frailty of the British state. The Tories are hell-bent on removing any safety net, with cuts to welfare and are committed to ensuring the state’s apparatus is reduced to the absolute bare minimum.
History has demonstrated that only a Labour government can protect the British state and ensure it provides the necessary support we need.
Whether this be Clement Attlee and Nye Bevan with the welfare state and the NHS, Harold Wilson’s investment in schools and hospitals, or Gordon Brown introducing his new deal and the minimum wage, it is clear that only Labour can be trusted not to strip the state down for parts and sell it off to the lowest bidder.
I wholeheartedly support moves by Starmer, Reeves and the Labour frontbench to invest in and reform the British state to ensure we never again return to the rank cronyism we have seen throughout this pandemic.
Watch Reeves’ speech here: https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1YqKDejQdzYGV.