The lack of transparency and accountability associated with large private companies is problematic when it applies to essential products and services, as we have seen with the energy companies and banks. But when it begins to affect the lives of adults and children to whom the state owes a duty of care, but whose lives are now a source of profit for a private provider, it is truly alarming.
The United Kingdom Independence Party won around a quarter of the votes in wards where it fielded candidates in English local elections. Mainstream parties may be tempted to shift even further to the right in order to win over UKIP voters. But this might end up losing them electoral support, as well as being unjust and deepening rifts in society.
Sections of the UK civil service are to be privatised. Unions have raised concerns about the impact on staff pay and conditions. Such a move also raises serious questions about accountability to the public and democracy.
The House of Lords has backed regulations promoting privatisation of NHS services in England. An Opposition attempt to overturn the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) (No. 2 Regulations 2013) was defeated by a ruling Coalition majority of over a hundred votes. Holders of NHS budgets are likely to be forced to put more services out to tender, giving lucrative opportunities to private firms even if this harms patient care.