Letter: Effect of Tory policies on society

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The Independent Online
Sir: The most surprising aspect of the coal debacle must be the surprise that has greeted what has been an inevitable consequence of Tory policies, and one which has been widely predicted for years. Thatcherite Toryism, continued in all essentials by Major, Heseltine and Co, has never shown any vision of the future - no concept of the structure of the society they are hurrying us towards - beyond returning all publicly owned enterprises to private ownership and then lying back and thinking of 'the market'.

Since 1979 successive governments have shown no sign whatever of any awareness that life does not consist of a series of separate water-tight compartments, but rather of a complicated series of interacting spheres in which everything affects everything else.

The coal fiasco provides a textbook example of this Tory myopia. In privatising electricity - a natural monopoly, like water - in a manner that gives the industry the power to choose its generating fuel on its own terms, the Government gave no thought to the effect this would have upon the coal and gas industries, the balance of payments, the tax income, social service expenditure, etc. This is the economics of the nursery, not of an adult government.

The whole raison d'etre of democratic government today should surely be to work towards a society structure that guarantees every member a real opportunity to realise his/her potential and to play a meaningful part in society. This will not only ensure a just and caring society but also a healthy and successful one.

Every new proposal must be measured against this yardstick and there can be no doubt that difficult choices will have to be made. But what is beyond doubt is that a government like this one, which refuses to intervene, not merely to temper market forces but also actively to assist its industries to compete in the market, has no chance of achieving such a


Yours sincerely,


MP for Neath (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

20 October