Criminal Legal Aid
Every day I have to use the railways. A system which went from a nationalised industry to a set of "local" franchises running a specified set of routes, with a specified allowance of carriages and a specified share of revenue.
It works astonishingly badly. There is no night train between Manchester and Liverpool meaning that nights out are impossible. Overcrowding is rampant. Customer Service is a joke.
So when I read about the proposed changes to Criminal Legal Aid my mind immediately drew comparisons to the railways. Obviously here we have thousands of small businesses operating in a free market rather than a state monopoly, but the end result is a number of "local" franchises with a set share of the work and revenue. All selected at lowest cost.
I won't pretend I understand all of that authors concerns about the independent bar - I'm willing to trust he knows what he's talking about and that the independent bar is an important element of justice and a free society (I certainly dislike the notion of G4S processing you from arrest to trial to detention) - but the image of rail privatisation and the threat to customer service and quality is something I can certainly understand and share.
This is not a good state of affairs.
It's yet another threat from austerity and this government's utter contempt for the poor.
There is a petition (Government site), but writing to MPs will also be appropriate should this petition get the numbers necessary for triggering a possible debate.