Privatizing education in Scotland? New Labour, modernization and ‘public’ services

Poole, Lynne and Mooney, Gerry (2006). Privatizing education in Scotland? New Labour, modernization and ‘public’ services. Critical Social Policy, 26(3) pp. 562–586.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0261018306065609

Abstract

This paper focuses primarily on New Labour's public services 'modernization' agenda, raising questions about recent shifts in governance, local government finance and the relationship between the commercial sector and the provision of welfare. It argues that this agenda is being embraced by the Scottish Executive through its commitment to Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and an increased role for market-based solutions to the problem of poorly performing public services. It examines PPPs in an education context by focusing principally on the experience in Glasgow and argues that PPPs in education and elsewhere in the public sector are part of a broader New Labour agenda to present itself as the 'party of business', in Scotland as well as in England, and in spite of the potential for policy divergence opened up by the devolution process. This paper locates PPPs in the context of other privatization-type reforms and explores New Labour's ideological commitment to opening up public services across Britain to market forces in the context of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

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