Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Cameron Embraces Albatross of Big Society

After all the flak the Big Society has attracted recently, I thought Cameron would have the good sense to distance himself from it. But no. He's sticking to it as his piece in the Observer underlined. He is 'puzzled' why so many on the left have attacked it it would seem:

"This is my absolute passion. The big society is about giving you the initiative to take control of your life and work with friends, neighbours and colleagues to improve things around you."

I discussed this with my students today and the points made were quite fair I thought, so let me summarize the way the discussion went:

BS is a much needed concept which requires as much of a fair wind as possible. Greater citizen involvement in public affairs is palpably a public good. However, Cameron's approach seems to be wholly exhortatory; there is no detailed strategy to bring it about. Further, despite a widespread resistance to top down management, there is no evidence that people are leaping forward to 'seize control of their own government'. On the contrary, there is more evidence of people being less willing to step up to the plate and volunteer. Few people I know would give up their nights watching footie on TV to run a local park or whatever.

Moreover, those most likely to volunteer their efforts, in the voluntary sector, are being cut. This thing will not happen just because Big Dave says it should. Community development- because, this is what this proposal is- requires resources, months of nurturing and careful piloting. By starving the professionals in this field Cameron is destroying the tools he needs to build his vision into reality.

I saw Nicholas Hurd, son of Douglas, who is now Minister for Civil Society, being interviewed by Sian Williams on BBC Breakfast yesterday. She asked him what would the government do if she and her friends wanted to run their local library.

'We'd be very encouraging and give it the green light' says the ex Etonian, Bullingdon Club member personal mate of the PM.

'Yes but what practical things would you do to help us achieve our objectives?'

'Well, we'd try to persuade the local authorities to enable you to achieve what you wanted'.

So that was it! You'll have to do better than that Nick, and you too Dave. I'm sorry but the Big Society is so far a worthy idea lost in a sea of official waffle

The whole point of the Big Society is to empower people, particularly local communities, to take responsibility and to make changes – to do things instead of becoming/remaining State dependants.

They are not unique in this, but the previous not fit for purpose guvmint bribed a state created underclass of millions of non productive people to vote for them, buying them off for the continuance of their policies rather than making the hard choices which are now necessary rather than optional.

Try imagining society itself taking back some of the functions that national & local guvmint has by steal presented themselves as the sole provider. Not too hard is it ? Well apparently it is to those so adverse to being weaned off the state teat behave Elizabeth Bott-like.

& BTW Skip, its not at all classy to introduce word association into your posts. BS indeed. Just stick to the obligatory chippy remarks about the Bullingdon. You never know, you might start to feel better about yourself.

Kind regards
The Big Society idea is nonsense. Cameron is getting very bad advice if he thinks this will be credible. Just cut public services, and the welfare waste, and explain honestly why it has to be done. There is a very good case for it, and it can be popular...especially if it is combined with an attack on European judges. Stop wasting people's time with this silly farce, the very phrase makes my blood boil.

The problem is we have a coalition. The Lib Dems know that we have our backs to the wall financially (even a Liberal knows that. In fact even Labour know it, though they pretend otherwise). So they support the cuts, but assuage their conscience by pretending that it is "enabling". Forget that, it is just necessary. But in return for their economic realism, we have to put up with defending European judges(advocates for paedophiles' and other criminals' rights) and accepting a load of other rights for the likes of homosexuals(like they need any more!).

My suggestion. Pick a massive fight with the European judges (over some issue guaranteed to win public sympathy...votes for murderers should do). Put legislation before Parliament asserting the supremacy of British Parliament over their loony judges. Let the Lib Dems walk. Fight an election on the issue, and watch a landslide election victory follow. Hey presto, a Tory majority that can act for the people who voted Tory rather than a few Liberals who'll never do anything decent for the country anyway. Daring I grant you. Which is why Dave will have none of it.

And this should serve as a reminder that PR and coalitions are never any good. Ever.
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