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Observations Ed Miliband Ban G4S Contracts


 

Mr Miliband will use a speech this morning to demand a block on any new public money for the firm after the failure, which he claims “beggared belief”.

He will also use the affair as evidence that the coalition should halt moves to massively increase private sector involvement in policing, warning it will undermine forces’ resilience.

 

The under-fire security giant is already involved in £600m worth of private work for the Home Office alone and had been hoping to further increase its share of the market.

But Mr Miliband, addressing a gathering of his party’s candidates to be the first elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales, will say that ambition must be put on hold.

 

“Before they are awarded any new policing contracts, we need a review of G4S’s ability to deliver,” he will tell them.

The Ministry of Defence has already had to supply 3,500 extra troops – taking the total to 11,000 – to fill a shortfall after the company admitted it had failed to recruit enough guards.

Another 2,000 are believed to be on standby and a decision about whether to put them on “notice to move” is expected to be taken today, according to a Home Office source.

G4S boss Nick Buckles insists the company will still claim its £57m management charge but sports minister Hugh Robertson has vowed to that the Government will activate “all penalty clauses” in the contract.

In his speech, Mr Miliband will claim that the problems should forced the Government to rethink its position on the role of the private sector in policing.

“The Tory-led government’s cuts to policing are resulting in forces coming under pressure to outsource on a scale and at a speed never before seen,” he will say.

“Not only that, we are not getting the reassurance we need that core policing functions will not be privatised – there is a complete lack of oversight from the Home Office.”

He will add: “Policing is too important to be left in the hands of multi-national companies unaccountable to taxpayers.”

The Labour leader warns that the Government has to be “much clearer about where the lines are drawn” before the election of the first wave of PCCs in November.

He will also suggest that private security staff undertaking any policing should be accountable to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in the same way as sworn officers.

Labour opposed the introduction of PCCs and is critical of the cost of elections but is fielding a slate of candidates, including high-profile political figures such as Lord Prescott.

Mr Miliband will say that PCCS should be able to use public-private partnerships if they lead to clear savings.

The main parties are going head-to-head on the elected commissioner issue with Home Secretary Theresa May,who is due to address the Tory candidates.

Last week, a police authority suspended its part in a privatisation scheme after problems with the G4S contract emerged.

Surrey Police Authority said it was “minded to withdraw” from the business partnering programme, a joint initiative with its West Midlands colleagues and the Home Office.

G4S was part of a shortlist of six groups bidding to take over “middle and back office functions”.

Observations:

Anybody remembers this song When will I see you again. In my case it When will I see a Labour Government again sharing with the many and not the few.

It’s only now that the coalition has faced a real dilemma over the smooth running of our Olympics from G4S. Ed Miliband is right to say that it’s a shambles. Now we learnt that on 18 July 2012 Cameron said I’ll go after G4S repays millions of pounds over the Olympic scandal. I’m still not convinced that Cameron will go as Cameron has not the balls to do it but that’s just my opinion.

Parliament is moving centre-stage as crises of private-sector greed and incompetence are laid before select committees.

On Tuesday it was the turn of G4S, following Barclays the week before.

G4S is a massive global security operation that runs prisons, deports people on behalf of the Home Office, protects Israeli occupation of Palestine and has contracts all over the world.

It’s a company that seems to enjoy close relations with all branches of government – a depressingly familiar story by now, almost the theme of 2012.

It got a huge contract to run security for the Olympics and failed to train or provide the staff to do it. The government panicked and brought in the army.

Or did it?

It’s hard to believe the line that Home Secretary Theresa May aggressively presented to the Commons last Monday – that she knew nothing about the expected shortcomings of G4S until the week before.

If this is so, she must be in a hermetically sealed time-capsule.

Her colleagues over at the Ministry of Defence were already putting soldiers on standby to do G4S work and her old friend Boris Johnson in City Hall was telling the Home Office of concerns over the contractor several months ago.

G4S has lost a huge portion of its share value and will have to pay hefty compensation for its failure to deliver.

But there’s a bigger lesson here. Dennis Skinner put it aptly in Parliament on Monday – that the whole obsession with “private good, public bad” has led us in a direction where public policy is invariably directed not at delivering a service directly but of finding a contractor to do it.

Public-sector employment was once the benchmark of secure, fair standards, but now it has to compete with the private sector.

Far from making it more efficient, this seems to take the form of mimicking telephone-number salaries for senior executives and cutting wages and pensions to the level of the insecure operatives who actually deliver for the corporate billionaires.

It can be comforting to attack the individuals involved in the corporate mess, but we have to face the fact that the rot is systemic. Privatising public services isn’t new.

Its biggest boost was under Thatcher and Reagan in the US. They in turn had seen its “success” in Pinochet’s Chile as a way of reducing trade union strength and rewarding their corporate backers.

We privatised endless services under Thatcher and Major.

New Labour did increase the overall level of public spending on services, but its favoured model was to use contractors to increase “efficiency.”

School meals, for example, were once delivered by properly employed workers who knew and understood the children they were feeding.

Care workers who knew and cared for the elderly they were helping were employed by councils. Once upon a time this was normal.

But Tony Blair was obsessed with the “third way,” and his recent very odd interview with Andrew Marr confirmed that he’s still ploughing that furrow, calling for public responsibilities to be handed to his friends in the private sector.

Our low-wage, insecure workforce has provided huge wealth to global corporations like G4S.

Maybe the shock to shareholders and pension funds which have invested in G4S will force a more forensic approach to these bodies, which seem to be too big for national governments to control.

With the Olympics now on, the contrast between Britain’s image in the world and the reality of our society is laid bare.

Anyone arriving at one of the airports will be met with long queues. Non-Europeans will be subject to lengthy and intrusive questioning.

Anti-drug dog-teams will sniff their luggage and when they make it to a train or bus station they will be greeted by ranks of unsmiling armed police.

Central London is increasingly looking locked down.

At the Olympic venues huge security operations are now run by the army, which patrols the 11-mile electrified fence around the main site and conducts checks on anyone trying to get in. It’s an image far removed from tourist posters. And there’s more.

The amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean is stationed in the Thames. There’s a no-fly-zone over London.

Anti-aircraft missiles have been installed atop the iconic former Bryant and May factory where the matchgirls held their historic strike.

All this is part of the price we pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Bush and Blair’s infamous “war on terror.”

Then there’s the funding. Ever since the less than successful Los Angeles event of 1984 this has become a mixture of huge public spending on venues and a corporate jamboree where even the Olympic logo seems to have been sold to McDonalds, Coca-cola, Cadbury’s and a few brewers.

Anyone else using or displaying it can be fined.

The decision-making surrounding the Games is murky.

There’s a distinct lack of democracy.

National committees in search of the games fawn before the enormously powerful International Olympic Committee and the attendant corporate interests who want to “sponsor” them in return for exclusive marketing rights and tax-breaks.

Dubious companies like Dow Chemicals, which has still to adequately compensate the victims of the Bhopal disaster, are welcomed, no questions asked.

The same is true of countries that deny women the right to participate in sport or be represented, such as Saudi Arabia.

When Ken Livingstone led the bid for a London Olympics he sought to address the poverty of east London and the need for regeneration.

The Games were supposed to leave a legacy of public parks and social housing.

Does anyone really trust Boris Johnson and his cronies to ensure that the crowded and poorly housed of Newham and east London will actually benefit from the Games or believe that the facilities built at huge public expense will not end up in private hands, unaffordable for the majority?

The welcome of the Olympic torch showed that many young people feel positively about the Games and appreciate its real spirit.

But that spirit is being lost amid corporate greed and the security state being imposed on London for the next month.

The Games should be about peace and athletics, and the enjoyment of the fantastic cultural mix of London – that is why they came here in the first place.

UK austerity agenda is expected to continue for the next eight years but a speech given Cameron on 25 June provided in-depth insight on how much voters are expected to suffer from cuts in the public sectors from the private sector.

Should this take effect those measures will add to our growing misery.

The most vicious plans includes restricting those in the poorest in society that depend on benefits.

Many would think that this would be political suicide for the Tories as opposition to cuts which is mounting on a daily basis. It does not help comments from Cameron to accuse some people who are on benefits that are trying to find jobs and look after their families to be insulted by Cameron by calling them undeserving, work-shy and costing the economy billions of pounds.

There are Councils that have to implement the coalition cuts by about 20 percent across the services. When public turns up at Full Council Meetings that is the time when they learn the full extends of the cuts and there is a sense of being gobsmack.

Central government does not smell the coffee in time when voters start to riot over food prices, rent increases, petrol increase, and cuts in benefits to the very poorest in society

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