Private Good, Public Bad eh? #G4S, #London2012 and the Army


For three decades the idea has held say in most of our political class that “Big Government” was inevitably hopeless and only markets, competition, choice and private provision – even of publicly paid for services – will ‘work’.

If we ever needed reminding that life is not so simple the fiasco surrounding G4S – private sector providers of a large part of the security for #London2012 – makes the point. G4S fail to deliver and as a result 3,500 British troops – many of whom probably have redundancy notices in their pockets – are forced to give up their holidays and step into the breach. G4S managers – who probably have handsome bonuses in their pockets – will probably walk away from this shambles largely unscathed.

This reminds me rather forcefully of the point an American public administration academic made after 9/11 – as the Twin Towers burnt it was mostly public sector workers – police, fire-fighters, paramedics – who were going into the buildings whilst it was mostly private sector employees coming out. Many of the former died when the towers collapsed. This is not a criticism of private sector workers – it is merely to point out that public service has merits that private interests can never match.

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About Colin Talbot

Professor of Government at the University of Manchester, England.
This entry was posted in Whitehall. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Private Good, Public Bad eh? #G4S, #London2012 and the Army

  1. Pingback: Nothing about transparency for government to learn from top companies « Integrity Talking Points

  2. Davy Jones says:

    Very well said Colin!

  3. Rob says:

    Very well said, sadly nobody in Government including labour are listening

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