Brexit state. Who would have thought it? Seventy years ago the Welfare State in Britain was founded on three pillars – housing, education, and health.
If, after the Second World War, there had not been a promise to found the welfare state then there was a risk of revolution – just as there had been a risk of revolution after the First World War when soldiers came back and found that things have not changed and that they were in the same divided country.
Ever since the introduction of the welfare state there has been another kind of war – the war between the Conservatives who want to return to Britain to a privatised ideology and the socialists who want everybody to benefit under one State.
There are risks from the ideologies of both sides.
The problem for the welfare state is that people live longer, have greater expectations, no longer necessarily want to be looked after by the great State – and particularly after they were offered the chance to buy (at a discounted price) their own properties to live in.
This created a huge surge in house prices that has fuelled an imbalance in the true value of assets of all kinds, including the cost of buildings such as hospitals.
The problem with the health service is that the infrastructure of the ’40s and ’50s and ’60s has now become old and decrepit – and where was the money going to come from to replace it?
From taxes? That was seen by Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as a sure way to lose an election.
That is the beguiling attraction of the privatised ideology. Theresa May is simply continuing the work of Thatcher and Cameron.
Labour’s latest manifesto is to bring energy, postal services, rail, etc. into public ownership. The current owners will want to be paid – there will be a revolution in everything in name if they are not – and the upset to that delicate balance is something we haven’t seen in this country for a long, long time.
The 2017 Labour Manifesto states:
- Bring private rail companies back into public ownership as their franchises expire.
- Regain control of energy supply networks through the alteration of operator license conditions, and transition to a publicly owned, decentralised energy system.
- Legislate to permit publicly owned local companies to purchase the regional grid infrastructure, and to ensure that national and regional grid infrastructure is brought into public ownership over time.
- Replace our dysfunctional water system with a network of regional publicly-owned water companies.
- Reverse the privatisation of Royal Mail at the earliest opportunity.
Brexit muddies the waters and makes a lot of things seem possible.
These are dangerous times and some will want to take advantage of that.