By a care worker and Labour Party activist
Public ownership and provision of social care has been Momentum policy for quite a while. Momentum NHS got CLPs to put forward a motion to Labour Party conference advocating “nationalising social care… to create a free, public system… Fully publicly funding both [social care and the NHS], including by reversing expensive and wasteful privatisation and marketisation; increasing taxes on the rich and corporations; borrowing to invest where necessary.”
Although the final composite motion passed was somewhat less radical, it did call for “social care systems which are also publicly funded and provided” (see here). In other words, public provision of social care is now official Labour policy too.
Yet, in the midst of the raging social care crisis, the party has said nothing – as far as I can see – about this policy, let alone fought for it. It has called for more money for the system, but in the current situation that could just mean handing over money to the private companies running care services.
A social care system taken out of the hands of profiteers and funded and run free as a public service is the only real answer to the crisis in social care – a crisis which has come to a head, but has been getting worse and worse for years. Momentum should campaign for Labour to implement its policy and launch a big campaign to demand this now. Such a campaign could be very popular indeed. We only need the political will to do it.
Let us know what you think? Write a reply? email@example.com
I agree. But I also believe that Momentum needs a policy in favour of a more general extension of public ownership. The 1945 government’s stance was to nationalise all sectors where private enterprise had “failed the test of national service”. That criterion wouldn’t necessarily be the Left’s criterion, but even on the basis of a test of service to the nation we would be compelled towards a very wide expansion of the public sector: social care, care homes, health care, prisons, gas and electricity, railways and transport generally, water. But beyond the traditional “utilities” the banks and financial institutions have demonstrably failed the country: blame for the years of austerity can be laid chiefly at their door. So too has construction, as evidenced by the appalling housing crisis. There is also a strong case for pharmaceuticals being brought into the public sector.
It is disturbing that there is a trend in Momentum towards prioritising liberal policies on which Nick Clegg or Tim Farron could proudly lead us, such as defending the status quo with regard to the EU free movement of persons (a thunderingly racist policy whatever one’s view on immigration). This trend convinces me that 40 years of neoliberalism has actually had a major effect on the Left. Too many accept neoliberal globalisation as inevitable, together with the wealth and power of the “One Per Cent” and their successful attack of egalitarianism. Too many comrades seem not to mind that we now inhabit a post-democracy in which, under the veneer of democratic forms, transnational corporations rule the roost.
I would like to see a turn in Momentum away from liberalism in favour of democratic socialism. On that basis the extension of public ownership deserves to be the fundamental policy of Momentum.