Poll will show that the general public has fears about putting health and education provision under independent control
Labour is ideally placed to turn the patriotic spirit displayed during the Olympics into a sense of national purpose that can help end David Cameron’s premiership after one term, says Ed Miliband’s new political guru.
Writing in the Observer, the Australian political philosopher Tim Soutphommasane argues that Labour can use the wave of national optimism to drive Miliband’s plans to “rebuild Britain”, based on responsible capitalism and a strong civic society.
The 29-year-old, who has been drafted in to Labour’s policy review, says Cameron’s “pursuit of austerity” and belief in a smaller state make it difficult for the Tories to realise their “big society” vision and exploit post-Olympics patriotic sentiment. Instead it is Labour, a party that has been shy of promoting patriotism in the past, that is best positioned to channel national optimism, he says.
“Miliband and Labour seem best poised to convert patriotic sentiment into national purpose,” he says. “Miliband’s signalled intent to ‘rebuild Britain’ through a responsible capitalism has the early signs of a leftist agenda of nation-building. The circumstances are ripe for such a programme. The economy continues to languish. Youth are faced with limited prospects for work. Families are confronted with rampant cost-of-living pressures. Britain is still looking for a durable political economy beyond just the City.”
Jon Cruddas, the head of Labour’s policy review and a long-term friend of Soutphommasane, said the Olympics had helped to crystallise Labour’s mission to “rebuild Britain” and showed that conditions were in place to build a sense of national purpose through civic participation.
“We will be contrasting our plans with the coalition’s dismantling of public services and management of decline. Ours is an optimistic, positive view that tells a story about collective involvement in, and enthusiasm for, rebuilding our country,” said Cruddas.
Labour’s “rebuilding Britain” mantra will be fleshed out next month, where it will highlight the unpopularity of much of the coalition’s effort to reform public services.
This week a poll will show that Cameron’s drive to open up state schools and NHS hospitals, along with other public services, to competition from private firms and charities has failed to win over the British people.
The prime minister has called for an end to “top-down” government and is pursuing reforms to allow independent providers to challenge the state’s monopoly in providing services. But the YouGov study for the Fabian Society shows that nearly two-thirds (62%) believe public services should be provided wholly or mainly by national or local government.
Two out of five believe the changes will lead to waste, duplication and profiteering and will ultimately be unfair by providing services of differing quality around the country. This compares with fewer than one in five (17%) who believe they will “drive up efficiency”. A third believe that when a politician talks about choice in public services, they really mean they are “going to privatise this service”, with just 8% taking the words at face value.Nearly two-thirds (60%) are “totally convinced” that services such as health and education “should not be run like businesses”.
In response to Cameron’s call for localism, generally defined as allowing people in communities to take over their public services, 56% say it will mean “the richest communities will have better services and there will be a postcode lottery”.
Andrew Harrop, general secretary of the Fabian Society, said: “It is clear that the state remains most people’s preferred provider for delivering public services. Cameron’s position that there should be “no default” between the public and private sectors simply does not enjoy public support.