Labour MPs gear up against PPPs

2 Aug 01
The revolt against public-private partnerships gathered pace in the Labour Party this week as backbench MPs moved to join forces with the unions to protect public services.

03 August 2001

David Taylor, MP for North West Leicestershire, told Public Finance that he intends to set up a backbench Parliamentary party group to campaign against the government's use of PPPs. 'Our leaders seem determined to press ahead with PPPs in a macho way that totally sets aside the considered views of those working in the public sector,' he said. 'The response from colleagues is that they are fed up with the slow march into the hands of the private sector.'

Taylor, a former officer with Leicestershire County Council, said he was unable to indicate the potential size of the campaign group. But sources within the Labour Party said there were 'significant voices of dissent' among MPs, which were becoming louder following ministers' determination to press ahead with the use of private firms. These are understood to include a number of former members of government.

'Colleagues who have significant reservations about PPPs are aware that the government will pursue its unsubtle privatisation policy in its first session when the political fallout won't be as damaging,' Taylor said.

He added that the evidence against PPPs was compelling. The schemes would create organisations unable to respond to changes in technology and demography. 'PPPs will do a great deal of political damage to our party,' he said. 'The government appears to want to push off its responsibilities for public services so it can say "not me guv" when a crisis occurs.'

Taylor said he expected to work in conjunction with unions Unison and the GMB on the lobbying campaign. The GMB has already pledged to reduce its funding to the Labour Party by up to £1m over four years.

The backbench group could prove highly embarrassing for Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has so far managed to keep a lid on the few openly anti-PPP MPs. As protests mount over the plans for the London Tube and individual Private Finance Initiative schemes for schools and hospitals, the group could become a significant thorn in his side.


Did you enjoy this article?