Posts Tagged ‘John Redwood’

Florence on Oliver Letwin and Thatcherite Anti-Welfare Think Tanks

November 27, 2016

This morning I put up a piece about the report in Friday’s I newspaper that Margaret Thatcher had continued planning to dismantle the welfare state, including the NHS, even after her own cabinet had revolted against it. Thatcher was keen to follow the plans outlined by the CPRS, a right-wing think-tank, to whom she had given the task of formulating plans to transform Britain into a free market economy. Amongst their proposals was the abolition of free universal healthcare, meaning the NHS, and the introduction of compulsory school fees, quite apart from the destruction of the rest of the welfare state.

I said in the article that it would be good to know who the people responsible for the CPRS were, as they should take their share of the blame, rather than just the politicos who fronted the reforms. As it stands, unfortunately it seems to me that even when one politician espousing the views of one of these wretched groups goes down, the members of the think tank just slink away to another job advising someone else. Like the various right-wing groups that jumped from the Tories to New Labour under Blair.

Florence replied:

I would suggest Letwin is the thread running through the whole sorry tale. Elected to a safe seat in 1997, he finished his academic studies (PhD) in 1982, and almost immediately became part of the CPRS in 1982. That was coincidentally when the ideas initially proposed in 1978 became part of the assault on the individual budget holders began in earnest. He then moved on to working with the CPS think tank.

In fact Letwin was associated with some of the most controversial policies – such as using Scotland as a testing ground for the POl Tax, and other unpopular policies. He is associated with racist memos written for Thatcher. He was also the author with Redwood of the 1988 CPS pamphlet that is the blueprint for the 2012 Act, which had itself been under preparation since 2007 -8 (ish).

The CPS was founded in 1972 by the “Mad Monk” Keith Joseph, and Alfred Sherman and Thatcher, to champion “liberal thinking” (now called neo liberalism). “In her own words, its job was to ‘expose the follies and self-defeating consequences of government intervention….’to think the unthinkable’ ” (Margaret Thatcher The Path to Power (London 1995), p. 253). The proposals on the NHS certainly fulfilled that objective, and seem to have arisen from within this coterie and melting pot while the Tories were in opposition in the 1970s. Other notable members of the CPS who are still influential in the Tory party include John Redwood, Dave Willitts, and Michael Fallon. Letwin of course was the main back-room grandee for Cameron and Osborne. He has since left the Downing Street role but his policies continue to be implemented.

Friedman, Joseph and Sherman were the main right-wing influences on Thatcher, but through Friedman and the Chicago School there were links directly to Pinochet in Chile (the Chilean “Chicago Boys”) and into the economic ideologies of nations across the globe. In the Wiki entry for Chicago school for the UK it sparsely notes that Thatcher implemented the Chicago school neoliberal policies and these were left intact and some were completed by Blair including the entry of private medicine into the NHS.

Getting information in who the members of the CPRS and the CPS were during those years is surprisingly difficult.

From my own reading about the subject, Keith Joseph was certainly Thatcher’s mentor, and she was very definitely influenced by Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys, who were also responsible for General Pinochet’s grotty economic policies. Friedman even went down to Chile to see how his ideas were being put into practice. As for Alfred Sherman, he’s another shadowy figure responsible for much of the neoliberal suffering around the world. I’ve got a feeling he’s the subject of a number of articles in the parapolitical magazine Lobster, as well as possibly being mentioned by Guy Debord’s Cat in his blog. The ‘Deep Politics’ angle – meaning covert manipulation by the secret state – probably explains why information on the CPRS is so difficult to obtain. They were a conspiratorial group within the heart of the establishment, and the establishment most definitely does not want their perfidy exposed.

From 1997: Failure of Privatised Welsh Hospital

January 31, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has been covering and refuting the Tories’ accusations of poor performance in the NHS in Wales. This is part of the Tories’ campaign to try and discredit the NHS throughout Britain, and replace it with an insurance-funded system on the American model. It is also deeply mendacious, especially considering the failings of various private health initiatives, which have been introduced into the NHS by them and New Labour. Like this story from Private Eye’s edition of the 4th April 1997. This reported the failings of private enterprise community hospital in Barry.

Redwood’s Net on the Tiles

The new unreadable book by John Redwood, sensitively published during the election campaign to cause maximum embarrassment to John Major, devotes many pages to the glories of privatisation, especially in the health service.

Anyone who wants to test these theories should pay a visit to the brand new community hospital in Barry, South Wales.

The hospital was built by Sir Robert McAlpine, the family firm of the former treaturer of the Tory party, Alistair McAlpine. But there was an irritating element of public enterprise in the project in the shape of the Welsh Health and Community Services Association (WHCSA), which acted as project manager.

When Redwood became secretary of state for Wales in 1993, he ordered a clean-up of any nasty deposits of public enterprise still lying around. Thus the project management at Barry hospital was privatised. The better – and more expensive architects and surveyors – were replaced by “more affordable” personnel, and 1996 the whole project management of Barry Hospital was handed to Beard Dove Ltd, a subsidiary of Capita Plc.

All sorts of things have gone wrong at the hospital. Tiles from the roof have been falling off in the high winds. To contain the tiles, the whole roof has been covered in green plastic netting, earning the hospital the nickname, the Ena Sharples Memorial Home. The boilers were so disastrous that throughout last winter patients were shoved from ward to ward to keep warm.

Last month the Landough Hospital Trust (chairman: former chairman of the Welsh Tory party Sir Donald Walters) discovered to its horror that, in its own words, “minimal progress has been made” in putting any of this right. The remedy was obvious. Beard Dove was “relinquished” from it contract and project management went back to, er, WHCSA … whose operation at Barry Hospital John Redwood at Barry Hospital John Redwood had insisted on privatising.

WHCSA is now negotiating with McAlpines to see how much more public money has to be spent to save the hospital from the private enterprise disasters which have engulfed it.

John Redwood was one of the group of extremely right-wing Tory MPs, who tried to unseat John Major in the 1990s. He used to refer to them as ‘the bastards’, or, according to Private Eye, ‘Ward 8 from Broadmoor’.

A few weeks ago we saw a similar process occur, as Circle Health walked away from their contract to administer NHS hospitals amidst a scandal of appallingly low performance and disgusting neglectful treatment of patients. Circle Health complained that they simply couldn’t make a profit from the management of the hospitals.

The failure of the privatised project management of the Barry community hospital and its effective renationalisation was a prefiguration of the failures to come.

And we can expect more such failures as the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS continues. Though if the Tories are successful, there won’t be any remaining NHS to return them to.

Just a future of public expense, private profiteering, poor performance and ultimately zero, or near zero patient care unless you can pay.