When you’re the Conservative Coalition government in the United Kingdom.
The current state of national finances and the dire economic context allow this government to accomplish what others didn’t so much as dream of. It may be apocryphal, but Margaret Thatcher herself thought selling off British Rail was a “privatization too far”; this didn’t stop the subsequent Major government from doing precisely that, and the Blair government from consolidating the same. In the current climate, there is no stealth about it at all: privatization is happening across the board, because there is no alternative. Higher education, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is being thoroughly privitized, without the autonomy that goes along with privatization. As that post discusses, this will radically alter higher education in England across several levels.
Now, it’s the turn of the Health Service. The Tories knew that they couldn’t possibly have run as semi-successful a campaign as they had in the 2010 election by being honest about these policies — campaigning to downsize or sell off the NHS will lose votes. Of course, running on a platform of raising university tuition by 200%-300% wouldn’t have done well either, which is why the Liberal Democrats promised the exact opposite. The proposed health reform is presented in a more subtle frame than the education bill, but the consequences can be every bit as radical.
I’m sure none of this post-election policy honesty has anything to do with the current polling numbers. Well, more so than Labour or Ed Milliband, the former still bereft of ideas, while the latter has failed to catch fire with the public or Labourites.
Note, I’m in the USA for the next four weeks or so (until next term begins, whenever that is), so I hope to soon comment on the endless joy that the Democratic Party brings me on a daily basis.