Imagine receiving this from your bank.
I'm writing to offer you a once in a lifetime mortgage opportunity.
With the shortage of suitable properties and prohibitive prices preventing many people from getting on the housing ladder, we are prepared to offer you one of our very special products. Because we value your custom, we will build you a bespoke house without a prior credit check or proof of income. It requires no deposit or down payment. And you can move in immediately.
All we require is you take out a mortgage repayable over 20, 30 or 40 years. The total monies you will pay will be approximately six times the value of the build. We think this is a reasonable deal, and no doubt you will too.
Don't hesitate to get in touch!
Such an offer was made to NHS bosses up and down the land in New Labour's early years. And it was an offer they could not refuse. Given the choice between taking out a rip-off mortgage for a new hospital, or muddling through with leaky, crumbling buildings from a century ago, few could blame them for taking the first choice.
I know many party members are proud of Labour's hospital-building programme. But would they have been had they'd known the mechanics of Private Finance Initiatives?
Still, it is annoying the great PFI rip off has only become national news only now. From the beginning the left has called PFI for what it is: a means of transferring public funds to private coffers. One can speculate why the BBC have only just "discovered" this. Perhaps bosses think buying into the Tories' 'Labour's legacy' narrative will protect their positions from the axe. Note how supine the BBC has been reporting public sector cuts elsewhere. They wring hands while hammering home how painful but necessary it all is. Even Pravda during the period of high Stalinism showed more editorial independence.
But the NHS PFI scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. Blair and Brown insisted new school, community, public and council buildings be built under the same scheme (and some roads!). In their attempt to make New Labour the preferred party of British capital they saddled the public sector with mortgages a house buyer would be insane to take out. One wonders how many more billions will pour into construction company profits for the next 40 years?