Spartacus Review

Volume 20: 12th June, 2008

Modern Politics

Title: Politics & Paranoia

Author: Robin Ramsay


Publisher: Picnic Publishing

Price: £9.99

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: Assassination of JFK


From Britain's answer to Michael Moore, Lobster's formidable editor Robin Ramsay brings you the JFK assassination, covert action, destabilisation, strategic theory, economics, politics, para-politics, Colin Wallace, Fred Holroyd, whistle-blowers, New Zealand, Australia, nuclear weapons, Blair, Brown, espionage, MI5, MI6, CIA, 9/11, conspiracy theories and the rise of New Labour.

Title: Confuse & Conceal

Author: Stuart Player and Colin Leys


Publisher: Merlin Press

Price: £10.95

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: Aneurin Bevan


The Independent Sector Treatment Centre programme has been presented to Parliament and the public as a way of helping the NHS cut waiting times for elective treatments such as hip and knee replacements and cataract removals. In reality it is a way of giving private companies access to the NHS budget for secondary clinical care. This book tells the story, first as the government presented it, then as the House of Commons Health Select Committee tried to assess it, and finally as it really is - a bridgehead for the private sector to take over NHS services and staff on a steadily-growing scale.

It shows how the real aims of the programme have been obscured and how information on it has been regularly massaged or withheld. All over the country NHS trusts are closing services as patient income is diverted to for-profit providers on highly advantageous terms. The aim is to make NHS trusts compete in a new healthcare market. The effect is to accelerate the fragmentation of the NHS into a series of unequal units, in which profitability takes priority over patient needs.

Title: The Other Invisible Hand

Author: Julian Le Grand


Publisher: Princeton University Press

Price: £14.95

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: National Health Service


How can we ensure high-quality public services such as health care and education? Governments spend huge amounts of public money on public services such as health, education, and social care, and yet the services that are actually delivered are often low quality, inefficiently run, unresponsive to their users, and inequitable in their distribution. In this book, Julian Le Grand argues that the best solution is to offer choice to users and to encourage competition among providers. Le Grand has just completed a period as policy advisor working within the British government at the highest levels, and from this he has gained evidence to support his earlier theoretical work and has experienced the political reality of putting public policy theory into practice.He examines four ways of delivering public services: trust; targets and performance management; 'voice'; and, choice and competition. He argues that, although all of these have their merits, in most situations policies that rely on extending choice and competition among providers have the most potential for delivering high-quality, efficient, responsive, and equitable services. But it is important that the relevant policies be appropriately designed, and this book provides a detailed discussion of the principal features that these policies should have in the context of health care and education. It concludes with a discussion of the politics of choice.