The image of Britain presented by the Tories is of a country of wrecked communities filled with feckless individuals and all of it is the fault of the Labour government.
One of the best rebuttals of their broken Britain nonsense is the growing culture of volunteering, which will build and build towards one of the most important legacies of the Labour government – London 2012.
When Tony Blair went to Singapore to help swing a few final votes to defeat Paris for the right to host the Olympic Games, a big part of the promise made was about legacy. The pledge was that a London Games would leave behind a meaningful legacy of sport and infrastructure as well as a social legacy that would last well beyond 2012.
I’ve written here before about how construction and planning for London 2012 remains impressively on time and on plan – and about the media’s near total blackout on good Olympic news. But what about the so called “social legacy” promised in Singapore? What does it mean and how will it work?
This week we started to see the answer to that question as a coalition of charities, government departments and voluntary bodies launched the 25th Hour campaign, inspired by London 2012.
One of the reasons Britain is far from broken is because of the commitment millions of people make to others, to helping out friends and neighbours, coaching kids in sports, working for local community groups.
There are as many ways to give time to others as there are seconds in the day.
The thinking behind the 25th Hour is to recognise the millions of people who already give time, in ways big and small, in every corner of the UK, and to inspire even more to do so.
People who register on the site as time-givers will be eligible to win Olympic rewards, including money-can’t-buy experiences like access to the dress rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony.
The 25th Hour is designed to build over the next two and a half years, with a major annual event in October on the day the clocks go back – when we literally have a 25th Hour in the day. Users of the website will get information about opportunities near them where they can give their time, or they can find out how to get a group of people together to pitch in on something they care about. It only takes a small amount of time to make a big difference.
Although this campaign isn’t about games time volunteering, more than 300,000 people have already put themselves forward to be volunteers at the Olympic Games themselves. So it’s clear that people are already excited about the chance to give their time, inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
This doesn’t sound like a broken Britain to me, but a Britain up for the best Olympics with the best legacy.
* Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labourhttp://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.