Gwyn Bevan discusses his new book, How Did Britain Come to This?, published by LSE Press.
The post-war political settlement sought to tackle what William Beveridge called the five giant evils of Britain in 1942 – Want, Disease, Ignorance, Idleness and Squalor. These systems were failing by 1979. Successive governments led by Margaret Thatcher tried to tackle those failures by rolling back the state and empowering markets – a neoliberal settlement. This depended on two ideas – that it is the social responsibility of private enterprises to maximise profits within the rules of the game. And that government can harness markets for public services.
Gwyn Bevan argues that these two ideas have produced an accidental logic that allows financial enterprise to exploit the rules of the game to maximise profits. And successive governments have failed to develop effective systems of contracting and regulation for privatised utilities; outsourcing; and markets for housing, education and health care.
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