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Charles Cording

Sir: In his letter entitled "NHS is good value" (15 November), Dr Scammell refers to the "phobia" that the political parties have about spending public money on services we want. This is no phobia; the notion that public spending is in some way intrinsically bad and that private finance is unquestionably good is an example of a quasi-axiom, or "quaxiom".

A quaxiom (in my book) is a conjecture that, having hung around long enough, is promoted to the rank of hard fact and may even be fed back in as a foundation of the system of thought that first spawned it.

Thatcherism provided New Labour with many of its quaxioms, for example, "privatisation is best for the railways". Only a decade ago this was a radical and questionable assertion. Now it is the starting assumption for rail transport development - a meteoric rise.


Whitley Bay,

Tyne and Wear