If it bleeds, we can kill it: a success in the fight against marketisation

Marketisation, at home yesterday

At some point I suspect most people involved in the recent struggles against The Marketisation Of Everything In The Universe have at some point felt that they are on the losing side. While many people remained optimistic enough to stay involved in the struggle, it was difficult to avoid the fact that tuition fees did rise, the marketisation of education continued apace, and although some resistance was offered to the sale of the NHS most of the successful opposition was by doctors on technical grounds – though I’m pretty sure many hid their politics behind the technical objections.

It is therefore a great pleasure to see this week that the government has shelved ‘indefinitely’ a bill to further marketise education, that would have introduced purely private elite universities similar to the US. It is not just a great pleasure, it is a victory, because it appears that the government did not have the stomach for the fight.

Tuition fees rose, despite the protests, despite the strikes, despite the million column inches, and sometimes it felt like we were doing it all for nothing. But this is not nothing. This is something. The government is scared of another fight. I, we, helped make them scared. It is difficult in the middle of a fight, when everything seems to be going against you, to feel you are achieving anything. But even if we don’t win the battles we want to, our resistance can and does win other battles.

It is true that it is a small victory in the grand scheme of things. It is true that many tasks remain, including the public trouncing of the philosophy of marketisation – the idea that those who can pay most should get most and those who have already won should win more – and the undoing of the social damage it has done.

But this is a good day for those involved in the fight. We should feel happy about the grief we have inflicted on the government. And as we gear up for more fights over education and the NHS, we should remember the words of Arnie before he went all governor on us: If it bleeds, we can kill it.