It would seem David Cameron's big centrepiece to the election, the 'Big Society', is in serious trouble, with him having to relaunch it just a few months into parliament. Already councils that had signed up to the idea are pulling out because they have realised that you can't build a big society at the same time as making swinging cuts. So, with polls showing most people have no idea what the big society even is, I thought I'd provide some reading material.
|Courtesy of Dave Brown|
From the BBC.
From Cameron himself.
And the reply from Ed Miliband.
I don't think anyone across the political spectrum has a problem with the basic principle of voluntary groups being able to take control of projects if they so wish, and as such most agree with the underlying theme of the big society. But, the issue is that you cannot encourage this whilst at the same time removing state support. Cameron's assumption that removing the state leads to more public initiatives is wrong. These groups need the support of the state, they are often not strong enough to 'go it alone.'
It seems to be a cover for the cuts, instead of saying 'we're going to close down this library', he can say 'we're giving you the power to take over the running'. Knowing full well that the public don't have the expertise and know how to run it, and it will inevitably shut down, whilst keeping his hands sparkly clean. Ditto for the forests.
So, whilst we mostly agree on the premise, in actuality, Cameron is killing the big society more than he is nurturing it.