This story hardly surprises:
Hospitals and fire services will be run “outside the public sector” as the Conservatives dramatically shrink the state and cut costs, a senior minister has disclosed.
And (the bold is mine):
Mr Maude, who is drawing up plans for £20 billion of Whitehall savings by 2020, said that with the exception of defence and policing, every function of the state could potentially be done outside the public sector.
I don’t really know why Mr Maude suggests that this kind of “outsourcing” (if such a radically hands-off approach can still be fairly described thus – the link between those who contract and those who tender becoming so tenuous as to end up non-existent) should be described as being “with the exception of defence and policing”. After all, our security services have clearly been playing a careless game with our democracy: on the one hand, requesting the redacting of US evidence of torture (perhaps carried out by British operatives; at a minimum, with respect to full British knowledge of CIA involvement); on the other, covering up horrible misdeeds by powerful people in government. Meanwhile, the police haven’t really covered themselves in glory, either – preferring to obfuscate about violent crime where judged to be necessary in the longest-game terms possible.
No, Mr Maude. You’ve got it wrong. And at the very least (if I’m of a mind to be charitable), really not bang on the button. For far too long (a notable some of) our defence and police forces have been run about as outside the public-sector ethos as you could possibly get.
There’s nothing public sector-minded about sleeping with environmental demonstrators, collaborating in phone hacking, shutting down investigations into paedophilia or torturing people to little productive end …
And if all the above is an example of what happens when the state begins to creep outside public spheres, do we really want more of the same?