LAST night I was honoured to be invited by Sefton Democracy Club to take part in a head to head debate with Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) on the issue of using private investment in public services.
The debate was held at Maghull Town Hall with more than 30 people in the audience. Suffice to say, it was a very lively debate. Billy and I were given five minutes to put our respective cases to the audience, then it was thrown open to the audience in a Question Time format.
My basic argument was that given the parlous state of the country’s finances, it would be foolish to be ideologically opposed to private investment if it meant protecting and enhancing services which so many of us rely on.
The one thing which struck me about comments made from a large number of the audience was how let down they felt by the previous Labour Government. I definitely got the feeling they thought Labour has ‘sold out’ and their 13 years was merely a continuation of Conservative policy.
That is partially true, but not wholly because, as we all know, the last Conservative Chancellor Ken Clarke bequeathed what is widely regarded as a golden legacy to his successor Gordon Brown in 1997. In 2010, all the incoming Coalition Government got from Labour was a note from the outgoing Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne, helpfully pointing out that “there is no money left”.
In all, the debate was very good natured and constructive. Afterwards, many people came up to me and said I made a very persuasive speech. It was an excellent experience and I’d like to thank Billy, my co-panellist, and Sefton Democracy Club for inviting me to their event.
I’d highly recommend their debates which are open to everyone. More information can be found about them by visiting http://seftondemocracyclub.blogspot.com/