We didn’t know it at the time but historians now pin point 2013 as the year we reached the tipping point. Imagine an astronaut who leaves the space station with an hours worth of oxygen on a short journey to the rescue pod. Thirty five minutes out and they are close enough to see what awaits them in the other ship. They have come over half way and passed the point of no return. There is not enough oxygen to go back so they have no choice but carry on. Some changes just can’t be reversed.
If people had realised the significance would there have been more strikes, more marches and letters to the Guardian? People were distracted there were freak storms, widespread flooding followed by prolonged droughts and fierce forest fires, the Euro zone collapsed causing another banking crisis and there was the realisation that not only were big multinational companies not paying their taxes but they were beyond the control of individual governments.
If the message of 2012 was that things didn’t get better then the message for 2013 was accept it and make the best of it.
And so a two tire NHS emerged, a safety net accident and emergency service for all and the finest medical treatment and latest wonder drugs for those who could afford it. The demise of local government was painful and slow despite or because of their ingenuity, creativity and innovation in continuing to function even with a 50% cut in budget. In reality they were reduced to offering little more than a child protection service and a clearing house for residential care for older people. Most authorities signed off with outsourcing their child protection service to the NSPC. Elected Mayors held annual full council meetings to renew council contracts and receive the elected Police Commissioners report. All schools were required to follow the national curriculum to receive state funding with rewards for being in the top half of the league table. The McDonald University (formerly Birmingham University) led a new wave of educational institutions funded by multinational companies independent of national governments
The Civil Service became the Government Support Service to reflect its newly clarified role and in keeping with this the head of the New Service became a political appointment made by the PM along with other cabinet posts.
The new government happiness index showed we had never had it so good despite the evidence of homeless families camping out in Hyde Park and the criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury when she declared it was easier for a poor man’s daughter to get into Eaton than for the rich to get into heaven.