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If 2016 Has Proven Anything It's That The Private Sector Has Failed Public Service

23/12/2016 11:56 GMT | Updated 23/12/2016 11:56 GMT
Compassionate Eye Foundation/Natasha Alipour Faridani via Getty Images

At this point, all I want for Christmas is functional public service - because right now, that's hard to find in Britain.

If we take one thing from this year (which alas we won't because we have to take certain decisions that we made this year with us as well) it's that we can no longer beat around the bush when it comes to isolating the causes for the issues we are facing as a nation today. For me, a public service system that cannot sustain itself and perform the tasks it is supposed to do is a major issue - and for this the cause is very simple. Outsourcing.

Whether we are contemplating the mismanagement of HMP Birmingham in the last week, or the Southern Rail commuter train lines to London, or post office closures nationally the common denominator is clear. A profiteering private sector willing to take on vital public services and oversee their demise and self-destruction as long as it lines their pockets.

The disaster that is the rail franchise belonging to southern rail has proved this each and every day that millions of workers that have been unable to get to work. The government employed Southern Rail to operate the train line, and allow individuals from the south east to get to work, to go shopping and go to school. Given that their performance of this task has been worse than shambolic, I don't think it is too outrageous a suggestion that their tender should be suspended, to allow southerners to use the fundamental piece of infrastructure.

And yet, here we are, months deep into a dispute with the RMT, with individuals having to move house, not being offered jobs and being unable to get paid because the private sector is being allowed to rip off the taxpayer and its season ticket holders - while still forking out millions of pounds to its bosses!

The time has come for the railways to be renationalised. I say this like there was ever a time when it was a bad idea to renationalise the railways (and don't say when they were still nationalised, it's Christmas - cut me a break), but my point still stands. The taxpayer is tired of forking out millions to franchisers who can't do their jobs properly, when a nationalised and joined up rail system where trains, track and stations are all run by the same organisation could not only be more efficient than the joke of a rail system which currently operates (usually late) in Britain but also save us money - instead of the government subsidising cancelled tickets, we could operate a per mile pricing system - to cut out erratically high season passes and on the day tickets, because there would be no one to cream a profit off the top of the price of people's commutes!

Striking posties this week once again brought home to roost the complete mismanagement that the postal service in the UK has suffered over recent years. In this, its 500th year of operation, more than 75 Royal Mail Post Offices are set to be closed by their (private) operator Post Office Ltd - and the government has the nerve to say that striking workers worried about their jobs and the loss of services are showing "contempt for ordinary people."

No, here's what contempt for ordinary people looks like. It looks like a government so preoccupied with cutting the deficit on paper they don't care about the real people it impacts. So, they simply move vital services off the books by selling them off to big business who don't care for the services they provide, just their Christmas bonus cheque at the end of the year. It's time to let government do its job and look after the services on which this country relies on to operate. The private sector has proven it doesn't work, just ask the inmates of HMP Birmingham.

So this Christmas, government needs to remember a twist on an ancient proverb. Public service is for life - and not just for Christmas (bonuses).