I remain confused by the Big Society concept, as I think are we all, including its author. My hunch is that when DC was trying to ‘rebrand’ the Tory Party, he wanted something that set himself apart from Mrs Thatcher (‘there is no such thing as society’) and the Big Society sounded as good as anything. She didn’t believe in society. He does. And it’s big. Strategy at its best, erm.
Then they tested it out on the media (at the time tickling their tummies even ticklier than they are now, if you can imagine such a thing) and on the public (well, a couple of focus groups probably) and it all came out rather well.
The problem is that what came out well was the idea that he wasn’t Margaret Thatcher. Something that may have appeared obvious. But now that the country is being subjected to the kind of right-wing nonsense that even she never tried out on us, at least not this quickly, not this randomly and not this non-mandately (did I just invent a word?) the Big Society is becoming a big problem for him.
It was great when it was warm and touchy feely and not being Maggie-y. But it is horrid when it is all about shutting libraries and sacking nurses and selling off anything that might raise a few bob provided not too many people protest about it on Facebook.
So it is no wonder he decided to have a little trip abroad to get away from the Big Society debate. But now I am just as confused about his Big World policy as well. I have been away myself the last couple of days, and have not seen much media, but having got back and tried to catch up, I am genuinely confused as to what his message was when he went to Egypt and Kuwait.
If there is anyone there who can help me with a clear succinct explanation either of the Big Society, or the central tenets of his foreign policy, I would be really grateful. I will pass it on to DC, so that he knows what it is he is saying.
BigSoc: Reducing accountable publicly funded services so that private sector and unaccountable volunteers flood into the gap.
Foreign policy: sell more guns.
Come on it’s simple he’s saying the big socie…er….he’s trying to get over that the big ….no…..he likes big things and especially if they have a little bit of sociability about them….I think….no he does….then again…..probably not….Alastair? I don’t know…….sorry…..
The Big Society is simply the continuation of Thatcherism towards its ultimate goal, i.e. rolling back the state, increasing privatisation and voluntarism, and allowing most things to be decided by the markets.
Cameron’s foreign policy is a continuation of the unethical foreign policy and arms trading carried out by successive British governments since time immemorial, under the guise of supporting the “balance of power”.
But only Cameron would be crass enough to pretend that a weapons sale trip to the Middle East is a pro-democracy tour.
Herr Goebbels, Have you thought about TB’s “New Labour” branding & the fact that Ed M has ditched it? What did Lord Kinnock say, oh yes, “We’ve got our party back”. And yes, this is despite getting a resounding mandate in 1997…wasn’t it a 179-seat majority? And somehow I don’t remember TB/New Labour telling the electorate that tuition fees would be introduced, that GB would raid the pensions & STEAL £5 billion & that council tax would sky-rocket in 2000, among other things.
It’s all horses for courses. I’d suggest you read you take some of your medication & read your own books (both volumes) to understand how it works. Or perhaps, subconsciously, you never believed in New Labour in the first place & your true beliefs are revealing themselves now.
The big society is basically a cover up for cuts and the notions of self-reliance and personal responsibility which will do nothing other than highten social exclusion. Cameron has rejected the positive role for government in the management of society along with the idea of individual aspirations being a concern for government policy.
Big Society (BS) = Bullshit.
Foreign Policy (FP) = Fucking Pisspottical.
Join the club AC. Clameron and William Vague have been spraying comments around about the middle east in the last few days which makes me wonder if they’re just making it up as they go along and are almost at the point where they open their mouths only to change feet. Camerons comments today for instance had all the depth and polish of Osbornes “it’s the snow, snow, wind, won’t be blown off course, snow, snow, wind, blown off course” shambles. It seems that Cameron thought he would look good being in Egypt, while in reality he is obviously incapable of finding a sustainable position and is all over the place with his ramblings..and he looked very embarrased as the veneer came off. Apart from his usual ploy of trying to get the words “clear” and “important” into virtually every comment, there is no consistent or developing message which isn’t just the usual trite lecture from the common room. As for Big Society, I love the fact that Cameron has decided to highlight the issue….the Emporer has declared; “My clothes are clearly new and very important”. Utterly, utterly shambolic.
Well he’s abroad so his mates can sell weapons to the feisty Arabs and give the Tory Party yet more dosh for their coffers. The unexpected trip to Tahir Square was for the soundbite (you know all about them) so that it looks as if he really cares about Democracy.
You’re right about him claiming something that’s not Maggie but if he is to dismantle the Welfare State, as he seems hellbent on doing, he has to SEEM to have something in its place. More soundbites. He doesn’t really care if it succeeds or not, but if someone ever complains about said dismantling he can say “Oh yes but we now have the Big Society”,when really it’s just a sham and propaganda.
´If there is anyone there who can help me with a clear succinct explanation either of the Big Society, or the central tenets of his foreign policy´……impossible to answer so Alastair will have to keep on scrabbling round!
Easy Alastair – BS = think back to the debates – “what this nation needs is Change”.
He promised it – we didn’t know what it was but suspected it meant loss.
He’s delivered it – we found out we were right.
Foreign Policy = is there any oil there?
He is off selling the Big Bang . No doubt he will tell us all when he explodes back.
I thought the whole big society concept is obvious – cut state services and get charities to fill the void (while cutting their funding as well). This is just a more devious form of Thatcherism, ie the PR campaign has been brilliant – the economy collapses due to the excesses of millionaire bankers and yet they have got everyone believing it’s all the fault of benefit scroungers.
Big Society = Big Sell Off
The ‘Big Society’ is the privatisation of the public realm in all its forms, discarding all notion of transparency, democracy, equality and strategic public provision. It depends on the rubbishing of the status quo and the assertion that state involvement in anything is dysfunctional and probably the cause of moral turpitude as well.
If you can imagine everything you depend on suffering the same pointless privatisation as that of the railways (effected under the duffer currently being photographed with Cameron in the Middle East), that’s what it is. (Footnote: four years after railway privatisation, the Tories were kicked out.)
The state benefitted, feather bedded “Jeremy Kylers”: workless, hopeless, mass breeders so encouraged by “Nanny New Labour” are going to be smoked out at long last. In return the great mass of hard working families (to coin a phrase) will be happy to contribute in time and effort to create a big society where we think that everyone is pulling equally.
You have spent your career levelling downwards; the big society is about levelling upwards.
PS Where else should our PM be at such a critical time for Middle Eastern and North Africa affairs? TB would be under a sun lamp somewhere, and GB in a bunker playing safe.
This inept crew of a Government confuse me too. “The vision” seems to flip-flop whenever a new policy comes in (see localism v centralism et al). Take today, for instance, where we hear from the Justice Minister that couples will be “forced” to enter mediation before going to court. How does this square with “small Government” and the state getting out of the way and “letting people make their own decisions”?
I suggest there is no “vision” because we have a group of politicians out of their depth, completely lacking in the life experience, empathy and imagination required to cut the mustard as a coherent and constructive political force for good. So policy is badly thought through, non-evidenced, inconsistent nonsense where the only common thread seems to be let the weakest bear the brunt and we’ll change our mind if enough “important” people kick up a fuss. For all our sakes, they need to be gone as soon as possible.
Maybe I’m being too simplistic but why wait to send a plane out from Gatwick to rescue Brits stuck in Libya when there’s a government plane already out there – the one Dave’s swanning around the middle east grandstanding on?
I can gladly help. You are an ignorant leftist clown with a chip on your shoulder. The country gave Blair three chances, and he chose you. Together, after 10 years, you delivered nothing but Gordon Brown and that was pathetic.
Come off it Alastair, you know perfectly well what the Big Society is. You just don’t like it. What will happen to “New Labour” (whatever that was) or “Old Kinnock-style Labour” when millions no longer depend on the big nanny state to do everything for them?
Big Society? The systematic dismantling of the Welfare State and with it the hopes and aspirations of the quiet generation (all now in our fifties), who believed in it and worked for its ideals to make GB a better place. We need to stand up and get shirty…as it is our grown up kids who will pay the price for this Tory-boy strategy, planned behind the Eton bike sheds. They will face an unbearable tax burden and a pension crisis when we’re infirm and wrinkly and dependant on them in our old age. There are so many of us and relatively fewer of them. The savage dismantling of Mental Health services undermine everything that was making this country a fairer place to live.
As for DC’s foreign policy – “Send a gun-boat …er…oops, forgot…we don’t have any…can we borrow a couple of clapped out planes from Richard Branson?”
Let’s not forget that DC is getting the reputation of being the laziest most incompetent PM in history.
That he thinks he is the next ruler of the Universe does not stop seeing the magnificence of The Emperor’s New Clothes to everyone else.
Nothing wrong with trying to be different from Thatcher and promoting the growth of the voluntary sector. When put together they don’t make for a coherent philosophy. It looks like a desperate move from someone who doesn’t know how the other half lives and knows the public sector can only get smaller. Elephant in room or emperors new clothes ? Probably both.
Would ‘non-mandatedly’ be better?
The Big Society starts at the Subsidised Westminster Bar, and ends at the Private Club with the funny handshake. Cameron isnt interested in ‘The Big’ He’s only interested in ‘The Me and my Mates’ We will soon be living in the 80’s again, with 1% of our Big Society screwing the other 99%. I read a good message in the Daily Star today, it asked, how can Cameron say that its the govts fault when riots are happening across the world, yet blames the people when it happens here. Look closely Cameron, the Riots we see the other side of the world will soon be staged here. Big Society my ****
So pleased that you take a break from reading the Daily Mail to join us on here now and again Richard.
I think the correct expression is ‘non-mandaTory’.
“”””So it is no wonder he decided to have a little trip abroad to get away from the Big Society debate.”””
I felt Cameron was trying to physically inhabit a more positive news story.
Egypt was leading the news most nights, so if Cameron was suddenly pictured in Tahir Square, he would become part of that news item rather than the negative news story of the Big Society. I’m sure some postmodern theorist would be able to explain how this move worked upon the minds of the TV audience.
Terrific level of debate Sarah, substance over abuse: is your Guardian late this morning so you have no opinion?
Big Society – repairing Labour’s moral and financial bankruptcy.
Foreign policy – repairing Labour’s disastrous legacy of war in Iraq (dodgy dossier ring any bells?) and appeasement of tyrants like Gaddafi.
The ill-conceived bile from some of your correspondents beggars belief.
I’d like to know how people who’ve been out at work all day, or looking for a job all day, or looking after their kids – all worthwhile things, by the way – are then going to have the energy, or want to run their local library or (as suggested in Leicester) do litter picking! It’s completely impractical and impractical. What happens if one of the volunteers can’t turn up for whatever reason? Is the library/ litter picking etc just not going to happen?
I have nothing against volunteering, my husband and I were school governors for two years – but had to give up because more and more of our spare time was being eaten into – some people did the bare minimum and others, like ourselves ended up doing more and more – that’s what will happen with the big society.
So my opinion is that the Big Society is – we can’t be bothered to provide it, do it yourselves.
As for the Big World policy – I haven’t a clue, but suspect it’s something along the line of let’s sell guns and buy oil quick before it runs out!
As a member of family close to me works for a national charity, I can endorse this view, Ian – funding was so drastically cut that over 20 good Volunteer posts were lost in his charity leaving their clients vulnerable – in the Big Society! How on earth can the voluntary sector pick up the pieces from that mess?
A policy to keep the old british empire thrash me please thank you english public school system going, what with their old supporters, with whip marks on their arse?
Just a thought.
It’s weasel words, or better still, a weasel phrase, as used constantly in the advertising world for decades on advertising hoardings or on telly, when they want to sell you fairy liquid or a choccy bar.
Hope this helps.