Heather Wakefield, Head of Local Government at Unison, looks to a future when privatisation is no longer seen as the ‘be all and end all’ and the state is seen as a force for good.
Thirty years from now politics will have shifted its epicentre from a Westminster that is no longer capable of responding to the intricacies of a globalised economy to the local political arena. Here decisions about all public services and community life will be made and here local people will create networks that sustain them in a new era of confirmed scepticism about the ability of markets to deliver public good.
Membership of the local ‘council’ will truly reflect its population and ensure that women, young people and all minorities are at the heart of decision-making. It will use the latest technology to communicate and regularly seek the views of all its citizens, who will all take some responsibility for decisions which affect their daily lives.
The myth of privatisation’s bounty will have finally been dispelled. Taxation will be seen as a public good after politicians convince voters of its benefits and ensure that all taxes are collected. Public money will be mobilised in the public interest, not frittered away on consultants, shareholders and company executives as global ecological limits, a growing population and new demand for services place a strain – even on a larger public purse. The state will no longer be seen as a bad thing – but a responsive and protective force against the harshness of markets.
Trade unions too will make the locality the focus of their organisation, and links between work and life beyond will enhance our relevance. Female leaders will speak for women workers. ‘Councils’ will acknowledge the benefits of a workforce with strong advocates and work with us to develop ever evolving and better public services, ensuring that all our members are paid a truly ‘living wage’. I may be dead, but I can dream…