Willy Hutton today.
His argument is that not all public services are entirely crap and not all private sector providers entirely fabulous. This is of course true. He then goes on to argue that this means we shouldn\’t be contracting out public sector services to the private sector because, well, because not all public sector providers are crap and not all private sector ones fabulous.
That is a touch of a leap, to be sure: what we really want to know is whether private sector providers of *this specific service* will be better or worse than public plus, which system, private or public, is likely to lead to improvements over time?
However, that\’s not what makes Hutton this week\’s prize moron (for we\’ve already used idiot to refer to those arguing for a windfall tax on the banks). His example of a public sector service which isn\’t entirely crap is, well, let him tell it in his own words:
The comparison with my local GP practice is illuminating. It is a new practice housed in new buildings and morale is consequently high. But the place is animated by a desire to do right by the patient. Phones are answered promptly, tests quickly made and even trivial complaints taken seriously. Why, I have begun to think, can the private sector not be as responsive to client needs as the public sector?
This is, I know, a question that defines me as a maverick; everyone knows that the public sector is a slough of inefficiency while the private sector is the home of innovation, enterprise and customer service. All I can say is: not in my recent experience.
General Practitioners are of course the one part of the NHS which is contracted out to the private sector and always have been. Funding comes from the tax money, yes, but each practice is its own independent business.
To use the example of a public sector service which is contracted out to the private sector (and always has been in the NHS) as an example of how good public sector services are which are not contracted out to the private sector does indeed make one a prize moron.
The truly appalling thing is that this ignorant actually has power over our body politic.