Wednesday, 15 August 2012

All As Dependent

Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch have both built their empires on enormous levels of State favouritism, not least from Margaret Thatcher. That is why they are now behaving like spoilt children. However, as with Philip Hammond’s remark about G4S, which enjoyed a very special relationship indeed with the last Conservative Government and which obviously enjoys the same with this one, an important and positive point can now be made.

You were the ones who wanted all the blue-collar work contracted out. It is still being done at public expense, of course. Just no longer by staff (although they are very often the same people as before) who have to be paid and treated properly. Central and local government contracts are one of many examples of how there is not really any such thing as “the private sector” in the sense that is usually meant. It exists only because of numerous forms of central and local government action. It therefore has vast public responsibilities, to which it is very high time that it was held.

Here in the North East, we can almost smell the difference between highly unionised people with national pay bargaining schemes, and not. But that difference did not used to exist. It ought not to exist. I shall tell you why not. Even leaving aside the private sector’s obvious dependence on education, healthcare, housing provision, transport infrastructure and so on, take out bailouts or the permanent promise of them, take out central and local government contracts, take out planning deals and other sweeteners, and take out the guarantee of customer bases by means of public sector pay and the benefits system, and what is there left? They are all as dependent on public money as any teacher, nurse or road sweeper. Everyone is.

And with public money come public responsibilities, including public accountability for how those responsibilities are or are not being met, accountability and responsibilities defined by classical, historic, mainstream Christianity as the basis of the British State and as the guiding inspiration of all three of this State’s authentic, indigenous, popular political traditions.

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