A march organised by the British Medical Association last night erupted in scenes reminiscent of the student protests. A horrific climax resulted in a protester setting fire to himself outside the front door of the Tory HQ. The British Medical Association condemned the violence.
A recent analysis of the governments proposals for Universities by Stefan Collini in the London Review of Books raises the serious and under-reported fact that:
Browne wants to see universities attracting customers in a competitive marketplace: there will be a certain amount of public subsidy of these consumers’ purchasing power, especially for those who do not go on to a reasonably well-paid job, but the mechanism which would henceforth largely determine what and how universities teach, and indeed in some cases whether they exist at all, will be consumer choice. There are, naturally, some well-meant nods towards ‘quality assurance’ and ‘safeguarding the public interest’, and the report has a few good ideas for mitigating some of the harshest financial effects of its scheme on individual students from less advantaged backgrounds. But what is of greatest significance here is not the detail of the financial arrangements but the character of the reasoning by which they are justified. Britain’s universities, it is proposed, should henceforth operate in accordance with the tenets of perfect competition theory.
It’s not the cuts (stupid) its the markets.
Which of course is the plan for the NHS.
Tony Judt explains how we’ve got here with greater passion, articulation and historical analysis than I ever could in his new book ‘Ill Fares the Land’, and in the essay, ‘What’s Living and What’s dead in Social Democracy?’ which was the inspiration for the book.
The Goldsmiths lecturers were of course right, the real violence (the violence inherent in the system) is the government’s ideological bonfire of public services with the intent that markets’ will rise from the ashes to take their place.
And by the way. Don’t worry. We doctors are such political invertebrates we’d never protest, let alone catch fire.