What do the next five years hold for the NHS? The pre-election jamboree is quickly evaporating. The promise of billions more in funding now feels like a distant sound-bite. The Daily Telegraph recently set the tone with a front page headline in which Jeremy Hunt declared that the NHS now has enough money and will have to make do. However, all the talk on funding in the election debates completely missed the point.
If we accept the narrative that NHS cuts are necessary, it follows that we concede privatisation is inevitable. If we relinquish the principal of public health care for all, we're signing our NHS over to corporate providers. That, in the words of one of the doctors interviewed in the incisive film,"Sell-Off: The Abolition of the NHS, "is like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank".
abour is finally shifting ground on the railways with a real debate going on in the party about public ownership. It is widely recognised that privatisation has been a colossal failure. Despite record levels of public subsidy we have the highest fares in Europe and private sector investment and innovation is non-existent.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will be the biggest international 'free-trade deal' in history. It will standardise EU regulations with their almost non-existent US counterparts. Negotiations are secret and over 90 per cent consultants are corporate lobbyists, which is more than a little suspicious.
This year the Tories are preparing a new, massive attack on students, which promise to be as regressive and damaging to the future of millions of people as the trebling of tuition fees has been - plotting to sell all our student loans to private debt collectors, who are hungry to make a profit out of saddling us with more debt than we signed up to. Students are, however, building a movement to stop the government in its tracks.
Either it's an election year, or Nick Clegg has suddenly discovered some principles. This week, George Osborne announced that there would be another £25 billion in spending cuts after the 2015 general election and around half of that would come from the welfare budget. For Clegg, who must have been given a spine at Christmas, it was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back.
I hear the term "modal shift" - referring to the move of passengers from cars to public transport -- a lot, and a lot of discussion of how to achieve that. But I've now seen the answer - copy the Swiss in practically everything. And an excellent place to start would be bringing the railways back into public hands.
Imagine what would happen to Britain if the Home Secretary had the power to expel anyone from the country "without assigning any reason." Then imagine what it would be like now if the power had always existed: no dissenting voices left, no debate; anyone in a minority either too intimidated to speak out or already deported.
We're not interested in winding back the clock. We don't see the world as an epic struggle between capital and labour. And we don't have all the answers. Yet. What we do see is people being disempowered. And not just by the government. What marks out the political discourse of my generation is that we have organised against any power which negatively impacts our lives.
A couple of these recent flotations - I'm thinking of Facebook and, in the UK, the Royal Mail - have given me pause for thought at the economic models that underpin them. In short, I think they are a rip-off. Why? Because they miss a chance to have the stake-holders investing in the company as shareholders.