The prime raison d’etre of a government is to provide for its citizens defence, security and services that either an individual would be unable to provide for themselves, or where such services are in the public interest but cannot be adequately served by market forces. Government is there to act on our behalf and in the common interest of our society, and in order to do so is funded by the people through taxation.
It’s the responsibility of any government to ensure that the services that the public pay for are maintained and that the money that is paid in taxation is spent as effectively as possible in delivering those services. These are not “giveaways”, but the reallocation of public funds to meet the needs of the populace, a transaction in which the recipient of the service has already provided payment – in many cases far more than they would ever recoup themselves.
Historically this was the most basic founding principle of the Labour Party, which advocated socialist policies such as public ownership of key industries, government intervention in the economy, redistribution of wealth, increased rights for workers, the welfare state, publicly funded healthcare and education. These principles were duly enshrined in “Clause IV” of the Labour constitution.
In 1995, however, “Clause IV” was abolished by Tony Blair, heralding the birth of “New Labour” and the adoption of market based solutions and neo-liberalisation. Labour in Scotland was less keen to accept this new creed than its compatriots south of the border, but when Johann Lamont recently signalled Scottish Labour’s final submission to the triangulated centre-right doctrine, many whose traditional sympathies lay with the party rounded bitterly on her policy shift.
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