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Too much choice

Most of Labour's public service reforms make sense. The new focus on individual choice does not. The "super-modernisers" who are pushing it make a false analogy with the private sector

By David Lipsey   December 2005

Eight years ago I wrote an article in Prospect (January 1997) attacking the idea that ever-increasing consumer choice was a panacea for happiness. I hardly addressed the extension of the notion of choice to the public sector because it did not occur to me it might become a serious policy prescription.

What did I know? Today, less than a decade later, the extension of individual choice in the public services is one of the main policy initiatives of this third- term Labour government. In Labour’s first term there were few harbingers of this. The government chose, for good reason, not…

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