Sunday, 21 January 2018


by Martin Gilbert

A partial answer to avoid repeating the Carillion mess-up is a return to Direct Works – where services like school meals, hospital maintenance and road mending were controlled directly by Local Authorities.  There was local trades union input ensuring service conditions and some over-sight of quality control. Contracting out to local business occurred where the reputations of such firms elicited trust.  Large capital investments for big projects were done in conjunction with neighbouring Authorities.  Thatcherism killed Direct Works.

There was no big conspiracy, just some complimentary events benefiting thre Tories. 1984’s failed miners’ strike gave them further opportunities for union-bashing. It was accompanied by decreasing the power of Local Authorities. Rate support grants had been under attack - the money given back to Town Halls by central government from centralised taxations.

Some of Jeremy Corbyn’s critics accuse him of trying to bring back Nationalisation (as if it was a revolutionary panacea).  Major industries were Nationalised post-1945.  They were directed by retired senior army officers, skilled at “man-management”.  Women were expected to give up the range of jobs they had done in the war while their men were at the front. Nationalisation was a long way from any kind of community decision making and workers control.

2018 sees us capable of widespread, quick decision-making, we can have selective use of the internet.  Re-introducing Direct Works would help to reverse the gross over-centralisation of successive Governments. It would contribute to preventing another Carillion-type mess-up, whatever form it takes.
martin gilbert, 22.1. ‘18

martin gilbert, 22.1. ‘18

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