Thursday, March 28, 2013

Search and Rescue privatisation reveals a coalition obsessed with privatisation

This new piece by CPO co-founder Neil Clark, on the UK government's latest privatisation plans, appears on The Guardian website.

From RAF search and rescue to Royal Mail and the NHS, state services are being sold off. The public don't back this extremism

You really couldn't make it up. As the RAF search and rescue service does heroic work helping people caught out or marooned in heavy snow in north Wales, the government announces that the very same service is to be privatised – with a 10-year contract worth £1.6bn being awarded to an American company whose headquarters are in Texas. "Our search and rescue helicopter service plays a crucial role, saving lives and providing assistance to people in distress on both land and on sea," said transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin on Tuesday. But why, when the SAR service is so excellent, and does such a fantastic job, is the government handing over all the work to a private company? We're told that the RAF's rescue helicopters are "ageing"; but can we really not afford to buy them 22 new ones?

It's not the only privatisation to be announced this week. The east coast mainline, which has been in public ownership since the previous franchise holder National Express quit in 2009, is to be reprivatised – despite the railway under public ownership being a resounding success.

Also, on 1 April, the Health and Social Care Act comes into force, which, in the words of the National Health Action party, "effectively abolishes the NHS in England after 65 years of existence". "We're not going to have a big bang privatisation for the NHS. We're going to have a very quiet one," says Dr Lucy Reynolds, in a recent interview for the BMJ.

These aren't the only privatisations – loud or quiet – we've got to look forward to in coalition Britain. 

The whole article can be read here