Over the course of the last few months and years we've seen a culture-of almost dare I say it-'institutional corruption' embedded at the very heart of our political and public institutions, gradually revealed like a retreating tide, leaving in its wake an ugly but necessary truth to face.
Our political system is currently run for the benefit of corporations. Many if not most of our elected representatives, are far removed from the reality of life lived by the majority of the people living in Britain. Public institutions are being eroded, along with our welfare state, and the gap between the rich and the poor is wider than ever.
We regularly endure hearing Politicians of all stripes, one after the other, giving animated speeches on the need to embrace austerity and cuts to public services while they themselves treated taxpayer's money like a free for all bonanza-the extent of which became clear when the MPs' expense scandal began to break.
In addition, today's political class seem intent on implementing an agenda of privatisation, the likes of which was started by Margaret Thatcher and continued by Tony Blair
More and more government contracts and services are being awarded to private companies, profit based bottom-line organisations, while those responsible for causing economic calamity were ultimately rewarded with a tax-funded banker bailout package. The city is booming, well represented on the frontbenches of parliament while thousands of other people are losing their jobs.
In short, we're living through one of the biggest and most blatant transfers of public money to private hands in living memory.
But the failures of private companies-which is putting it politely-to deliver on government contracts was recently brought into sharp focus with the revelations over G4S and Serco. Concerns have been raised over many aspects of their conduct including, public safety with regard to G4's Olympic security contract failure, controversies over the running of privatised prisons, and overcharging the taxpayer for services rendered including the electronic tagging of dead people.
All of this reveals a contradiction with the Conservative hyperbole we frequently hear, and that we are often led to believe; we are told competition is healthy-the bedrock of capitalism, as if capitalism could ever actually work. We deserve better and must demand better.
It's bad enough that G4S were ever sub-contracted by the government at all; from enforcing deportations on behalf of the Home Office to carrying out police work, there are many legitimate questions being raised over the extent to which the government is outsourcing work to companies like G4S.
Deaths which have occurred in G4S's custody, and G4S demonstrably not delivering on contracts but still seeing fit to charge the government should be of huge concern; the idea therefore that G4S will therefore handle more and more services like carrying out important police work beggars belief and is a recipe for disaster. It reminds me of Tony Blair being given the responsibility of being Middle East peace envoy, having left a murderous and destructive legacy that we are still seeing repercussions of today. Today's privatisation makes no sense, except in the warped minds of those who may as well inhibit a different universe and who ultimately won't be affected by the policies being introduced-the political class.
An interesting comment was recently made by Oliver Letwin MP. He said simply, that "The NHS will not exist under the Tories" His candour should set alarm bells ringing and the statement is telling. He's not exactly a lone voice within the Tories.
In addition to politicians working to secure the interests of corporations and the financial sector, it has long been the case that that most politicians in all the major parties, with some honourable exceptions, are willing to send our young people, to other countries to die and to kill other poor people for rich oligarchs-as seen with the illegal occupation of Iraq-the justification for which was fabricated 'intelligence' and outright lies. Cynicism toward politicians therefore was already high, but the actions of the government are now cementing that cynicism. Privatisation will only worsen the problems which already exist within our institutions, feeding this cynicism, and ultimately having a massively detrimental effect on society. Privatising the police force is no exception. There were already plenty of problems to begin with.
With our police force, in addition to the ongoing campaigns focused around deaths in custody, the continued criminalisation of Black youth and other minority groups, and the excessive violent behaviour of many police at public demonstrations, we've seen programmes like the recent C4 Dispatches piece outlining the culture of institutionalised corruption and malpractice which has existed over many years and needs to be tackled head on.
The details for example, of how the Metropolitan Police's special branch in the wake of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, focused resources on spying on the Lawrence family and Duwayne Brooks in case they wanted to smear them-the Lawrence family and Brooks themselves being victims of crime-were laid bare.
One wonders what role therefore, that some in the police might have played in allowing either intentionally or due to incompetence (similar to the BBC) celebrities and other elites-like Jimmy Savile-to get away with preying upon some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Indeed, we have yet to realise the full extent of Savile's destruction, but the picture we are seeing emerge of is of a climate which allowed these atrocities to happen going back many decades, implicating prominent figures from the highest echelons of society.
It's interesting that many questions once considered taboo, regarding the problem of endemic corruption within certain sections of the police have gradually crept into the realm of mainstream discussion. This is a positive step.
All of the above paints a pretty gloomy picture. Many people feel that the unpopularity of the current Bullingdon government and the perceived closeness between the political establishment and the ruling class means that Labour have a chance to take power at the next general election.
If they do we'll need to hold them to account in the way that liberal democrats in the US have failed to do with Obama; We need to hold their feet to the fire and demand that they find alternatives to privatisation, austerity, and needless war, and demand that they ensure cuts are not made to the police and other vital services. Labour signed up for austerity too-there is only discussion about the speed of which to implement cuts. We need to say no. We must also demand the police and the IPCC become fully and unequivocally accountable to those who pay their wages-the people. These changes are essential in restoring public confidence. We have to demand that they demand better for us. If we don't, expect more rioting and so forth.
Should Labour win at the next election, we can't aford get all starry eyed and think the work is finished. Ultimately, re-shaping discussion on the left is how we start to cure some of the problems we have seen surface in recent years. The alternative is too awful to fathom; Years of the same from a Tory government led by millionaires, a (mostly) privately educated group of career politicians who will continue to destroy everything that was struggled for in the past. The left must come together, and come together now. Safeguarding out institutions from increased privatisation, and ridding them of corruption has to be the goal.Suggest a correction