Shooting the watchdogs

THE GOVERNMENT has been forced to postpone its plans to abolish the Human Rights Act. But it is still pressing ahead with reintroducing the snoopers’ charter — in other words allowing Government spies access to store and read all our electronic communications in case we should all turn out to be terrorists, or even worse “domestic extremists”— political activists who do not worship their great God Mammon.

And they are still at it behind the scenes dismantling all those obscure checks and balances of the bourgeois state put there to stop a bourgeois democracy, sliding into a fascist police state.

The parliamentary committee that scrutinises proposed major constitutional changes been quietly scrapped. The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, which was originally established for the duration of the 2010 parliament, was scrapped following a meeting of party whips.

Britain is facing very big constitutional changes in the current parliament with a referendum on membership of the European Union set to be held within the next two years.

Further devolution of powers to cities, Scotland, and Wales are all expected to be delivered at the same time as the Government tries to draw up a new Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act. The Tory government also has plans to redraw parliamentary constituency boundaries in a way that would be advantageous to the Conservative party.

There are big changes to welfare entitlement and more antiunion laws in the pipeline. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will have a big impact on planning laws, health and safety regulations and anti-discrimination legislation. If the referendum takes us out of Europe of course Britain may not be part of TTIP but the odds are that even then David Cameron will find a way of keeping us in TTIP. It’s what his bosses would want.

In housing we have already seen local communities and their representatives swept aside to allow for council estates to be demolished, their tenants shipped off to distant towns to make way for lucrative estates of luxury flats that no ordinary worker can have a hope to be able to afford, either to buy or to rent. And Lambeth Council in South London has gone one better and given over the administration of its housing department to the estate agent chain Foxtons.

On Wednesday the Government published its new Education Bill. All “failing” schools are to be forced to become academies, even though turning schools into academies does not necessarily lead to any improvement in standards. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said the Bill would “sweep away bureaucratic and legal loopholes”. In other words it will scrap the requirement that academy sponsors are supposed to consult locally on whether they should take over schools.

“Coasting” schools would be given notice to improve and offered support but could also have their heads replaced or be forced to become academies.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers said the Government had once again resorted to “sanctions and threats when our education system desperately needs investment and support”.

“Parents who have campaigned against the opaque and centralised process of academisation will be dismayed to see themselves dismissed as obstacles to be eliminated,” he said.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “This Bill promises more of the same but with an additional intention to silence critics, including parents and teachers as well as elected local councillors and the communities which schools serve.

“Campaigners will not take any lectures from Nicky Morgan on social justice. There are academies deemed ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted. A change in structure is not axiomatically the path to school improvement.”

The NHS long ago lost its most powerful watchdogs — the Community Health Councils. They were replaced by a body to receive complaints that was toothless and powerless to do anything about them. If we have complaints about the way Government bodies have treated us, legal aid is no longer available.

All avenues of accountability for Government bodies are disappearing fast. And since the Government is “outsourcing” so many of its functions this means giant private companies are being given free rein to re-arrange our country, interpret its laws and to use us as they please and to dispense with us into destitution and oblivion if we inconvenience them.

The giant companies no longer influence the Government. They are becoming the Government.

But in the long-run that will make it easier for us to overthrow them when we are organised and mobilised.