The Two Faces of Polly Toynbee

A fantastic spot by the acceptable face of the left over at Though Cowards Flinch. Polly Toynbee might be off on her summer holidays soon, but that hasn’t stopped her from penning one last Olympic-sized rant for the Guardian. The subject of her ire this time is G4S outsourcing:

No one can prove the value or cost of most outsourcing. What Thatcher began and Labour continued is an epidemic of evidence-free, faith-based policymaking. Politicians have been seized by a conviction that private is always better. With no public service for fair comparison, the weary old mantras of “monolithic”, “sluggish” public services go unchallenged.”

Pretty strong stuff. The only problem is that three years ago poor old Polly said almost exactly the opposite:

“There is no doubt that putting some services out to tender has vastly improved certain standards over the years, broken the power of vested interests and brought in competition that has sharpened up results.”

Even worse, she was writing for the in-house magazine of outsourcers Serco. Fighting a noble crusade against outsourcing from her Italian poolside paid for by outsourcer’s cash. Surely the end of credibility is in sight for Polly?

UPDATE: Further reading leaves Guido flabbergasted to welcome Polly to his side of the barricades on the privatisation of the NHS:

“Just look at how hospital consultants’ waiting lists plummeted when a few Independent Treatment Centres were set up nearby. Suddenly, long waiting lists for hip and cataract operations fell because patients had a choice … a little gingering up round the edges has an electrifying effect on sleepy outfits. Often, private provision makes sense where small units need to buy in some expertise or back-office work they can’t develop themselves. Some things have always been private – GPs, for example, the most-loved part of the National Health Service.”




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Quote of the Day

John Curtice on fiscal policy:

“Attitudes to taxation and spending are basically counter-cyclical. If a government comes in and tries to reduce spending and taxation, after a while people will get worried about the state of public services. If a government increases taxation and public spending, after a while they’ll get concerned about increasing taxation…. In as much as there are lots of ideologues out there who think the state should be this proportion of GDP, they’re all wrong. Because the public’s view is counter-cyclical to the recent experience. It’s basically impossible to satisfy the public.”

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