Labour should admit PFI was a huge mistake….
Buried under the prodigious amount of Chris Huhne coverage today was this little nugget in The Guardian. The government is making £1.5 billion available to hospital trust funds struggling to pay-off their Private Finance Initiative bills without cutting patient care. I genuinely hate to say this but Andrew Lansley is basically right when he says;
Labour left some parts of the NHS with a dismal legacy of PFI, and made them rely on unworkable plans for the future. They swept these problems under the carpet for a decade and left us with a £60bn postdated PFI cheque to deal with.
Of course, Mr Lansley’s words might carry a tad more moral authority if George Osborne wasn’t continuing this baneful practice of Labour’s and signing PFI deals a-go-go. I know some people will want to defend PFI on the basis of the improved resources it delivers but my response to that is simple; look at the price we have to pay. The terms of most PFI deals are frankly stupid and they turn the state and local communities into cash-cows for the private sector to milk until the former are bone-dry. We don’t even have control of the new buildings or whatever else is provided and the taxpayer is saddled with an eye-watering debt to boot. How is this a ‘good deal’ for anybody?
It shows that the prostitution of the state to the private sector was a process that Labour was totally complicit in when it held the reins of power. The notion that Labour spent alot of money on providing real-terms public service improvements is not really true. What it did spend alot of money on was getting the private sector to provide those improvements at twice the price. So, it was actually Labour’s abandonment of the state, not its alleged zealotry for state-based solutions, which was the actual cause of massive amounts of public spending, debts and deficits and will continue to be so for some time.
If you look at all our big mistakes in government, PFI, 10p tax-band, war in Iraq a common pattern starts to become discernible; put simply, it is when we wander furthest from our core values that we mess things up the most. The likes of David Miliband, currently out on maneuvers against Roy Hattersley and the entirety of social democracy in general it would seem, would do well to remember that as would the current leadership for as it is said, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
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