As the NHS turns 70, let’s make it our major export

‘As we celebrate the NHS here, we must not underestimate its symbolism beyond our borders. As the People’s Health Movement, the global network of health activists, made clear in evidence to my recent consultation, the health service does not just impact on the lives of people in the UK. It is a beacon of hope to millions of people around the world who are fighting for their own access to healthcare. Its very existence demonstrates that universal, publicly funded healthcare is possible.

This was always its intention. As Nye Bevan said on the day the NHS was brought into existence: “The eyes of the world are turning to Great Britain. We now have the moral leadership of the world.” Continue reading

The sale of the Land Registry makes no sense

So the Land Registry is a natural monopoly and, as goes the Competition and Market Authority’s main argument, these kinds of services should be publically owned. Handing a monopoly over to a private company in search of profit risks harming consumers – the new owners may simply charge a higher price for the service, or in this case put the data, the Land Registry’s most valuable asset, behind a paywall.

The Law Society says that the Land Registry plays a central role in ensuring property rights in England and Wales, and so we need to ensure that it maintains its integrity and is free from any conflict of interest. Continue reading

British railways – a privatisation scam

The economic historian Robert Millward points out that the popular notion of nationalisation in Europe as a 1940s phenomenon, driven by the perceived failures of capitalism in the 1930s and the successes of the planned economy in wartime, ignores the earlier history of state direction of the universal networks. Gladstone wanted to nationalise the railways in 1844. Even earlier, at their genesis, the railways were dependent on the state to force private landowners to yield right of way to the iron road. The problem of the publicly owned British railways after 1948 wasn’t that they were publicly owned, but that they were expected to do so many things for so many people, often for less than they actually cost, that it was no longer possible to be sure exactly what they were doing with their share of the nation’s resources, or why. What was clear was that they kept failing to meet one of their key targets, which was to break even.
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The biggest appropriation of Church land since the 1530s.

George Osborne just announced the biggest appropriation of Church land since the 1530s. …

Now the state isn’t quite stealing that land. The land on which academies sit is generally leased to the new academy trusts on long term leases (125 years, for example). But that is basically compulsory: it’s not as if the councils which are losing their schools get any say over whether to sign those leases or not. And to quote some lawyers, fromBrowne Jacobson:

Where the diocese own the land, it is usual for the diocese to grant the academy trust a licence to use the land under the church supplemental agreement

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Weapons manufacturer takes over 400 council jobs in education

NEARLY 400 council jobs across Worcestershire are going to be privatised in a £38 million deal.

Worcestershire County Council’s Conservative leadership has today agreed that an array of school support jobs can be handed to Babcock International from October.

The jobs, known at County Hall as ‘Learning and Achievement’, offer a vast array of advice and help to schools including everything from school admissions, post-16 education, teacher training and educational psychology.
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