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How should society work?

09:50 UK time, Monday, 3 May 2010

Labour, Tory and Lib Dem representatives have been setting out their vision for British society. What do you think of their ideas?

Speaking on the Radio 4's Today programme, Communities Secretary John Denham defended the idea of active government, saying that the system was now moving to one of public rights to certain standards of service.

Conservative shadow education secretary Michael Gove spoke of a "big society", saying the issue was for public services to stop doing things "in a bureaucratic pattern" and harness "the idealism of volunteers."

Liberal Democrat education spokesman David Laws argued for a combination of proper resourcing of public services by Whitehall and a devolvement of "much more power down to the people who actually run public services."

How active should national government be in providing local services? Would you like more say on how your public services are run locally? What are your experiences of how things are run in your area?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Page 1 of 9

  • Comment number 1.

    In Gwynedd we have a Plaid led council.

    They think that they can spend our money as they see fit and we will just keep on paying the bill.

    There needs to be a much tighter control on there petty bureaucrats

    They are supposed to work for us, not the other way round

  • Comment number 2.

    The one thing this BIG society needs is the return of Fox Hunting ask David Cameron.

  • Comment number 3.

    we should respect one another and if you commit a crime you should be punished and not let off with a slap on the wrist! the rich should be taxed more and schools should make learning more fun.

  • Comment number 4.

    We really do need a fairer society, one that is not influenced by Media moguls and oversea party paymasters.

    We need a Government that will work much closer with local government and come up with a policy that creates a fairer society. I firmly believe that we need a hung government that will make our politicians to work in closer harmony and in the interest of our Country and NOT party dogma. As I live in a marginal seat I can influence that which is why I shall vote tactically to bring about change.

  • Comment number 5.

    The liberal idea of more power locally means "post code lotteries", the tory view of a "big society" means rely on charity and of course Labour believes in some control of where money goes to. All of the parties are trying to dole out their "motherhood and Apple pie" visions to the electorate, what they actually really mean are less clear and are only each party trying to enter the debate on society as if there is a right or wrong way of dealing with the mixed society we live in.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have news for Mr C Our society (Big or Small) isn't broken!
    There are hundreds of incidences every day of generosity and kindness towards neighbours and strangers.

    The bleak Orwellian nightmare that Lord Snooty likes to imply for narrow political purposes is a figment of the fevered imagining of The Daily Mail and Tory Party Central Office.

  • Comment number 7.

    Not a lot!
    It's up to the 'People'to change Society! (US!)
    All Government can do is tell 'us' what we can't 'do'.Not what we 'Can'
    For all that, and all that ! Come'what may and come it will for all that etc etc.
    The only command that came from Parliament,that did any good was......'Action this day'or else!

  • Comment number 8.

    The tories "big society" sounds like if you have enough money you can do what you want. I think the idea of wealthy parents setting up their own schools will be terrible for the poor families who will be excluded from these private schools .

  • Comment number 9.

    The Tories' "Big Society" idea is just a thinly-veiled ruse to enable the wealthy and the privileged to abdicate any responsibility for those less well off than themselves through taxes.

    In the Conservatives' big vision, if you want public services and believe in a co-operative, mutualistic society then in the future don't expect any support from government. You'll need two jobs just to keep your head above water, and be expected to moonlight as a part-time unpaid teacher, healthcare worker and road sweeper.

    On social issues the Liberal Democrats are essentially Tory-lite.

    And Labour? Who cares what they think any more? They sold their core voting support up the river years ago.

    The bottom line, then, seems to be that tomorrow's society is going to be a tougher, meaner, more self-centered place where everyone is looking out for nobody but themselves. So back to the nightmare that was the 1980s.

  • Comment number 10.

    You can be sure that what ever party gets in they will follow their own agenda and the very last thing that they will be doing is listening to the voters.

  • Comment number 11.

    Government and public services are there to serve the people, not the other way around. I like the Tory ideas regarding the 'big society' but remain unconvinced they can put it into practice fully.

  • Comment number 12.

    It should work based on the harm principle. "If one of sane mind is causing harm to another, that is reason to legislate. If one of sane mind is harming oneself, that is not a reason to legislate".

    Or to quote the original definition by John Stuart Mill "That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

  • Comment number 13.

    I am with the idea that public services need to be delivered effectively without waste and by those who know how to deliver, not civl servants or politicians.
    The idea that the public have rights to minimum standards of service is good but will not be delivered by people who have no idea what services need to be delivered but THINK THEY DO.
    The Tories and Labour have had three decades in absolute control and look at where we are, hospitals failing, benefits failing, councils failing, society failing employment rising all because traditional "class" Governments thought they had the answers.
    People - the electorate - have the needs and can, given the tools by a caring and compassionate government, deliver a Society in which they are proud to be part of understanding the balance between positive and negative prejudice and act accordingly.
    The State has told us what to do for too long, the time to take a risk has come, we know what we have had and we know that if we don't change it we shall just get more of the same whether the face is Cameron or Brown. The electoral system can work to our advantage if we just VOTE.
    The 40% or more of those who think that their vote can't change the system CAN CHANGE THE SYSTEM if they decide to VOTE, just look at what has happened in the last three weeks.
    YOUR destiny in in YOUR hands: so Nanny State, Capitalist State or Caring State I don't mind and will accept the decision, as long as the Nation chooses and not the mindless sheep who have voted for Tories or Labour since Noah was a boy!
    YOU have the power USE it: please, please use it.

  • Comment number 14.

    Oooh lets see... FAIRLY? Is anyone actually "worth" 10x anyone else? Transparently? DEMOCRATICALLY? And remember Keynes' response when it was pointed out that uncontrolled capitalism has to collapse:

    "Yes, but I won't be around to see it."

  • Comment number 15.


    - for the Law (above all)
    - for all the people
    - freedom of opinion and expression


    - distribution of opportunity and ultimately wealth
    - contribution from all citizens
    - and open debate on major issues

  • Comment number 16.

    No more exorbitant taxing on the working middle class to support those who choose not to work (no problems subsidising those genuinely looking for work).

    No more open door immigration.

    All illegal immigrants deported - 'making them legal' is not a solution.

    No more positive discrimination or affirmative action.

    Absolutely no privatising of the NHS.

  • Comment number 17.

    In broadbrush terms I believe that the state has become far too big and far too involved in our lives. Over the past twenty years or so every time there has been a social problem people have asked what the government is going to do about it, this is the wrong question. The government is merely our representative, nothing else, they are not our rulers but out servants.

    I completely agree with the NHS and state schooling, so I am not suggesting that we should reduce those but i think that there are so many laws and rules we have to live by now, which, frankly, have nothing to do with MPs. People say we get the government we deserve, if that is the case then we are lazy, ignorant and uncaring. Too lazy to do anything about the problems on our doorstep, too ignorant to find out what is going on and doing anything about it and too uncaring to help out in our own neighbourhoods.

  • Comment number 18.

    To harness "the idealism of volunteers" - hmm, I bet they do.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think I'd prefer an active government to profit driven market forces. The Conservatives seem to be promoting little more than a rebadged Thatcherite ideology. I'd like to see much less bureaucracy, but lets not forget the seeds for what we have now came from the Thatcherite distrust of non-business professionals, and favour for 'professional' managers. So all in all, it seems the LD vision of properly funded public services, not run by managers whose only experience is profit driven private sector management, seems the most desirable.

    This does seem to be an election where the people's voice has been heard more loudly than usual (via the twitter/blogoshere), and the clearly biased print media - and the polls they appear to own, have not had it entirely their own way. Lets remember that who ever wins a free press is vital for democracy to operate.

  • Comment number 20.

    There should be far more real democracy regarding local issues, especially concerning building projects funded by the council tax payer. As in the case with this Central Government seeking to micro-manage every aspect our daily lives, it seems to me that local government officials also believe that the taxpayer exists for their benefit rather than the other way around. In particular, local housebuilding and other civil engineering projects which can have a real negative effect on the quality of life for many are often bulldozed through with no consideration given to legitimate objection. Housing estates are springing up all over the place where we live, yet the local road, school and healthcare infrastructures are not being developed to suit. The result? Overcrowding and gridlock. Meetings may be held at which lip service is paid to dissenters but ultimately developers' money talks and these projects proceed regardless. I would like to see systems put in place that reflect truly fair and democratic local government, i.e the opportunity for council tax payers to vote against excessive development and for local councils merrily spending OUR money to be forced to listen to and act on the majority view.

  • Comment number 21.

    in the first 60 days

    A written constitution
    1.5 million redundancies in the public sector
    Closure of job centres
    No means testing for core benefits
    No locking up of the longterm unemployed in detention centres this is human rights abuse
    Access to the courts for the 16 million who are excluded from the justice system
    citisenship qualifying period 15 years very limited immigration from the EU only work permits up to two years in five.
    Allow unemployed people to have a pension
    A new body of internal affairs to sack and procecute civil service corruption currently running at 33% in some departments.
    Human Rights abuse by government to be made a crimminal offence
    Those earning over 50k in the civil service to have a maximum time in government of 8 years.
    All government contracts let must have a quota of 10 % senior long term unemployed.

  • Comment number 22.

    Not sure about the Big Society from the Tories where volunteers can set up free schools. It is being dropped by Sweden as a failure due to low performing pupils.

    I think this will be indicative of most services that the Conservatives want to pass on to volunteers, rather than the state running it. Is there enough volunteers with time on their hands to do this?

  • Comment number 23.

    Society will not work unless we have the economy sorted out.

    The economy is the main issue in this election. All polls suggest Alastair Darling will not be the next chancellor. The choice is therefore Vince Cable or George Osborne.

    Need I say more?

  • Comment number 24.

    I notice all the ideas pretty much came down to how much money there is going to be forthis or that. To improve this something else down the line has to suffer. Nowhere have I seen anyone tackling our appalling birth rate especially amongst single parents and the always visible 'yummy mummys'. Nowhere have I seen that whichever party gets in at the next election a return to teaching manners might be on the cards. As a nation we have become incredibly rude, arrogant, impatient and petulant, all four traits can be observed if you take a car out for half an hour, especially around school time.

    Good behaviour and good manners is what make societies, and ours is failing, has failed, and the worse culprits are those who think because they have 'chuldrun' they're special. Special in a way that allows them to run roughshod over all and sundry, this is not the society I was brought up in and it is most certainly not the society that i wish to be part of.

  • Comment number 25.

    The parties are not being entirely honest on the level of cuts necessary.

    Committing to conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq has crippled the country in my opinion. I could see the reasons with Afghanistan but failed to see the reasons for Iraq. I do not blame the Labour Government as such but the Cabinet, led by Tony Blair have a lot to answer for.

    I quite agree with Clegg about the need for Parties to work together for the good of the country instead arguing over things to win cheap points.

    Whatever the result on Thursday, Politicians must never forget their greatest duty is to our country, not their respective parties.

    I think Clegg's proposal of all the parties coming clean on the scale of the problems we face is a good starting point.

    In principle, all the parties have some good ideas and some bad but at this point they have to defend there manifestos. After the election, I hope a degree of cooperation and common sense can prevail so that we can choose most of the best ideas.

    I quite like Cameron's idea of a 'Big Society'. We should be doing more to make the country a better place and locally, we all understand our own communities better than national politicians. However, I am scepticle that Cameron will use it to reduce services that Government should provide. And this 'Big Society' works well in affluent areas. But in deprived areas people face daily struggles. I am also against his tax break for the wealthiest whilst the rest of us will have to struggle.

    Gordon Brown has some good ideas on the economy and Clegg has the right idea regarding 'Trident' as we have to accept we cannot afford it.

    Some compromise between the parties could be benefitial to everyone!

  • Comment number 26.

    How should society work? For the good of all not just the ones that the top. If we don’t ?
    What’s next?
    Crisis riots on our street this generation will not put up with unfair cuts letting the wealthy and the bankers the ones that cased off ..What they going to set the troops on them the police will not do it. Can’t afford the overtime like in the 1980s then they did it for treble pay
    Before long we will all be singing THIS SONG
    This was sung by British & allied prisoners of war (1939 -45) in working parties

  • Comment number 27.

    Let me get this right Dave is going to slash our public services ,then wants those ppl whose public sector jobs he has scarped to do those lost services voluntary ? ,and also that charity's pick up the pieces that was once provided by local govt .his "big society"

    So iam to expect more door to door collections,?

  • Comment number 28.

    Michael Gove says the Conservatives wiil let the public have more say in how things are run, but Cameron says he will see that there are more women bosses. How are they going to do this without intervention by Govt.? Here in our constituency we have felt the effects of the Tory pc agenda with threats from Central Office if we didn't toe the line. How does this action fit in with letting the public have more say. At least the Labour party are open about Govt. involvement

  • Comment number 29.

    The most important thing is to find out where all the money is going;

    Over £500 billion a year is raised by the government as taxes under the pretence of paying for services to the UK population. And to make matters worse, this is not enough, the governemnt still borrows a further £160 billion for this year, using the UK population as colateral.

    We are not getting value for money!!

    The vast majority of public money goes towards individuals and organisations that give little or no return. This needs to be turned around immediately.

  • Comment number 30.

    How should society work?

    With the minimum of interference from the state.

  • Comment number 31.

    Our "broken society" is going to fixed by politicians? Once the election is over they will be far too busy getting their snouts back in the trough.

  • Comment number 32.

    <RICHPOST> <BR />We all know that the Conservative <br><b>Big Society=Big Business=Big Tax cuts for the RICH</b><br><br><BR />Cameron’s <b>“Big society”</b> is no different to <b>“no such thing as society”</b>. <br><br><BR /> I would only trust Labour to be on the side of working people.<br><br> Cameron and Clegg may do the spin better, but I would not trust them not to side with the rich against the majority of the population.<br><br><BR />Under the Conservatives “society” would be run for the profit of big business, not for the good of the many. <br><br><br><br><BR /></RICHPOST>

  • Comment number 33.

    i would love to be able to write what i truly believe, but fear it would be stolen by the corrupt governments who control us.... bbc can email me if you like... il show you something you have never seen b4.

  • Comment number 34.

    Its a pity they cannot combine their ideas as each party has something to offer. If they could we would have a much better country.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'd be for letting people be involved in local decision making, IF I felt that we, the people, had all the facts at our disposal.

    Right now, we do not. So, to pick an example, if we are asked what we think about a new road connecting us to the nearest motorway, we make emotional decisions, based on how it affects us individually. Will the new road go near my house? Will it make it harder or easier for me to get to my (shops/work/school/pub)? What's in it for me?

    If we were given access to all the facts, we might actually find that we can answer those questions ourselves, as well as ones like:
    Will it benefit the local economy? Generate more jobs? Make it easier for local businesses to receive and sell their goods?
    What other options were investigated? Why were they dismissed in favour of this one? Are there cheaper (safe) ways to achieve the same goal? Who had the idea in the first place, and what was their motivation? You get the idea.

    But, until we have a government that is able and willing to give us ALL the facts, I'd be very reluctant to allow everyone to be involved in local decision making - because that always boils down to he who makes the most noise gets to play with the toys.

  • Comment number 36.

    Society is made up of people, some are decent others are not. The UK was once a tolerant and fair society, but sadly this has been destroyed over the past years, either by government or through world influences.

    Idiotic political correctness is probably the key to a great deal of legislation. Instead of retaining our hard won freedoms, we have sleeped walked into an intruding Big Brother society, cameras and ID cards will be the outcome. Plus the ever increasing power of those in Brussels who are now 'running this country'.

    It is still not too late to demand a referendum on Europe.

    With an important election imminent for the first time in decades we have an opportunity to try and reverse some of these gross legislative blunders, it will be a hard road, probably one of the hardest since the last War.

    Wake up England, and importantly use your power of the vote so we can get to work and correct the errors of the last 13 years.

  • Comment number 37.

    Rarely have I heard so much waffle.

    These people are so detached from local issues and the needs of the general public that the very last thing we want is more reams of red tape than we have already. The abolition of hundreds of overlapping laws brought in by Labour is a priority, followed by delegatory powers to responsible people on the ground - not at Westminster.

    On a grander scale, the only powers that should remain with central government are those that affect society as a whole, such as the national economy, law and order and transport, with the proviso that the local authority has the power to over-rule. This might give parliament more time to debate essential issues affecting society such as the return of power to adults rather than children, anti-social behaviour, and the restoration of capital punishment and flogging.

  • Comment number 38.

    We need to realise that there's no such thing as a free lunch - we have to pay our way in the world. That means the private sector has to make products and deliver servies that the rest of the world wants to buy. If we're successful then we can afford to provide public services. However those servies should only be the ones we actually need and not what Government thinks we need. Government needs to remove itself from large parts of our lives and only providing a basic range of public services (looking after the genuinely poor and disabled in our society, not the hangers on and scroungers) on a much lower share of GDP (our money) i.e. 30%

    And shareholders and boards need to get a grip of the growing disconnect between directors and staff salaries - the gap is unsustainable and doesn't reflect the actual 'value add' that different levels of staff add to a company. Directors have been at the trough as much as the public sector fat cats.

  • Comment number 39.

    Labours "big government" approach is nothing short of Marxism. More laws have been passed during the past 13 years than all of the previous 700 years of British history.

    We're photographed, catalogued, observed, referenced, crosss-referenced and checked at every turn by a government that has grown vast in a very short time. This utter dependance on a bureaucratic system of quango's; ministries and levels of departmental red-tape has strangled society, business and the economy.

    Government and local councils have forgotten who they work for and seem to think that they are a presence unto themselves. No amount of failure, error or stupidity on the part or councils or government departments will be held against them - they are impervious to any need to provide justification for their actions or decisions.

    Bogged down by health and safety and political correctness; the needs of society at large are being ignored. When someone holds a job and knows that only by the protection of the system around them can they retain that job (being incompetent) while the rest of us have to put up with it, then is it any wonder that society is up in arms?

    I've dealt with situations with the local council where a simple failure of one member of staff to do the job they are being paid for leads to a huge waste of time and money being expended unnecessarily to put things right. Formal complaints go unanswered and the matter fades away but those making the errors remain in their jobs regardless.

    When society is presented with this sort of situation over and over again, and then has to deal with being handed fine after fine for one infringement or another in the constantly changing quagmire of national, regional and local legislation being cooked up every day.

    Society needs to be treated fairly, not to feel that it is simply there as pockets for goverment and councils to reach into whenever a failure on the part of the government or council leaves them short of cash and they need to pick those pockets.

    It's not even about "fairness"; it's more about value for money. Our cars are being damaged by roads that are not properly maintained - we have to pay for those repairs; then the council announce they have no money and they increase council tax to pay for the road maintenance; so the tax-payer gets to pay twice; actually three times if you then include road tax; or four times if you consider parking restrictions, the plethora of motoring offences and speeding restrictions - this is one example but there are hundreds of similar situations plaguing the lives of society every day.

    Society is being dumbed down, government and councils want to make every decision about how we live, work, eat, sleep and play; how we interact with each other and how we join together. Government and councils are incompetent at doing the job they are paid to do so they devise easy target scenario's which they then monitor and publish statistics which tell us all "what a good job" they are doing.

    Society needs less big government, less incompetent councils and a return to the days when we could make mistake and possibly learn from them - councils never learn from their mistakes and they make the same ones over and over again and then expect society to pay the cost of those mistakes - it needs to change.

  • Comment number 40.

    Central government whould not have any say in local government except in areas such as an integrated public transport system.

    Rural areas have Parish councils, the very bottom layer of government, councillors are not paid, it is purely voluntary. These councils deal with very local issues but the problem comes when the next level, ie District councils do not have the jurasdiction to be of help, the next step is Central government and owing to so many crazy rulings and laws from the EU, a sensible decision for a very local issue is doomed to fail.

    A good example of this is not being able to grit badly iced areas in order to prevent both pedestrian and driver accidents!

    Society generally is fractured and this is a failure of families whatever their make up to take responsibility for themselves instead of looking to the State to provide.

    Single teenage career mother should be looked after by their family, if this is not possible then some form of hostel arrangement should be the alternative, not free but with financial support backed with the mother taking on some form of paid work.

    Parents should fined for their disruptive and in some cases criminal children, if the children continue their behaviour, they should be removed and placed in accommodtaion that will provide an education, instil some manners and respect for themselves and others.

    The only party that will improve society, give back respect and opportunity for the individual to perform to his or her best is the Conservatives.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'd say we need to get away form this liberal lefty view that everything is acceptable. There are rules to a society and we all should follow them.

  • Comment number 42.

    Labour, Tory and Lib Dem representatives have been setting out their vision for British society.


    What a complete and farcical pretentious joke.

    Who gives a monkeys what they think, they are but a very tiny minority of just a few dozens in comparison to 60 million UK citizens who ALSO have views and opinions and ideas of a vision of British society.

    This bunch of muppets cannot even provide the electorate with facts and figures and details of their policys, to add yet MORE unadulterated drivel just ADDS yet further insult to an already outrageous situation.

    People just want to be left alone to get on with their lives with little interference from the state, they want to provide help to the needy, and DONT want to be taken for a ride by the lazy, the criminal the greedy and also especially by politicians.

    Unfortunately, I think politicians are the main and central problem to most of the UKs ills.

    For every reasonable policy or law brought into being, politicians inflict numerous other negative and pathetic policys and laws.

    Who would have thought that labour would have brought in restrictive laws and regulations which basically label every adult as a potential peadophile and criminalise parents/adults for transporting their childrens friends to activitys.

    Who would have thought that anti-terrorism laws would be used by councils to spy upon local people.

    Who would have thought that anti-terrorism laws would be used by the police to aprehend and detain and stop legitimate demonstrators.

    I would ask these political muppets what their vision is for UK prisons, of which NONE are drug free, and that if these political muppets cannot even control or implement basic standards of compliance and decency in a contained prison situation they how on earth can they presume to be able to implement social "vision" on the WHOLE population.

    As with so much stated by politicians, it is just pure and utter unattainable fantasy. They think they can tinker with society as if it is a simplistic substance in a test tube in a laboritory.

    They think that everything can be defined and managed in one or two simple words or expressions or policys.

    The lunatics are TRUELY running the asylum.

  • Comment number 43.

    We all — including the politician's — have it easily in our power to increase the sum total of this world's happiness now. How? By just giving a few words of sincere appreciation or to do a good deed for someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words or deeds you do today but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.

  • Comment number 44.

    Things to come under Conservatives 'Big Society'

  • Comment number 45.

    Socrates 'The Republic' sets out one way to organise things.

  • Comment number 46.

    29 Simon Attwood, history will tell you that the country has never had value for money from a Labour government.

    32. Where have you been for the last 13 years?

  • Comment number 47.

    First, it is not the Government's money - it's ours! So the state should take as little as possible from us.
    Second, the Government cannot solve every problem or save every individual from his/her own mistakes.
    So a bit more of standing on our own feet and "judgemental" allocation of benefits by the Government will be welcome.

  • Comment number 48.

    How about the mp's actually work for us for once in their sad lives and compromise with each other for the best of us all,

    if they don't we should have public flogging of mp's, i don't think anyone would disagree with that.

  • Comment number 49.

    32 Cameron’s “Big society” is no different to “no such thing as society”.

    I'm 27, fairly sane and kinda on the fence about who to vote for on Thursday. Edging Lib Dem probably, though I wish people would stop only selectively using that Thatcher quote to berate the Conservatives. In the full context of that statement she made, I perfectly agree with her.

    "I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand "I have a problem, it is the Government's job to cope with it!" or "I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!" "I am homeless, the Government must house me!" and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations.."

    What exactly is so wrong with this?

  • Comment number 50.

    Claire Herbert @41
    Ok so you would like a right wing dictatorship.
    With Cameron’s blue shirts army. Brown shirts Blue shirts they are all the same.
    All the work of the three wise monkeys

  • Comment number 51.

    I visited a French village with a twinning association.

    That village had several community centres, sports halls, orchestras of various kinds, even a music school as well as village associations which all made use of the many facilities.

    All of this was paid for through taxes levied on the local nuclear power station.

    Most of the buildings were donated to the village by the power station as were many council houses all of which had been built for the original construction workers.

    Many local people had jobs at or connected with the power station.

    The power station even used the heat produced by cooling towers to heat local greenhouses and swimming baths.

    We have a nuclear power station. We get nothing from it but radioactivity.

    Local communities are best suited for running their own affairs. Unfortunately local councils tend to be controlled by long time serving and self serving politicians taking their oders from the central party manifesto.

    They claim to be local but are far from it in spirit. They see themselves as mediaevel barons and squires and look on the rest of us as serfs to do as we are told.

  • Comment number 52.

    I would love to see the public having more of a say in things, such as the running of departments on my local council.

    I have picked up on a few things that if they were run diffently, they would save money. It seems to me that some of these staff are in "part time" jobs, but make their own long winded systems to create "full time jobs" for themselves!

  • Comment number 53.

    I havn't a clue BUT ! I am ABSOLUTELY sure that a society should not sell it,s car factories to China ,
    it's steel industry to India ,
    its food industry to USA,
    its Banking to Spain. etc;etc:

    Then allow mass immigration to take place.....

    Anything has got to be better than that !

  • Comment number 54.

    'How should Society work'? is the HYS question. Listened to the interviews underlying this HYS report and many other political interviews before.

    Conservatives want more 'private' schools yet, at the same time Conservatives want those unaccountable private schools to be publicly-funded?!!!! Charities will, randomly take the place of public services?

    Labour admits they had to intervene in all public services after almost 20yrs of neglect of last Conservative administration. But they have gone too far on targets and quangos?

    Liberal Democrats want neither of these two mad extremes and will allow all areas between Whitehall, Local Government and the people. So more accountability for everyone who spends taxpayers income and council tax?

  • Comment number 55.

    How should society act? With openess, tollerance, dignity and care of course.

    However such public activity is impossible with all the government legislation over public life.

    In regards to the BIG SOCIETY, some people here think this is designed to provide free services, if they realy listened to Cameron they would know that he is talking about profit making schools, therefor private education for the well off, whilst funding for these businesses would be gained by cutting funding to the free state schools that are already struggling.

    Yes society should do more for itself and stop relying on our welfare system so much, but how can we; when all our money and therefore ability to invest in society is taken through government taxation?

  • Comment number 56.

    Implementing similar expenses @ 52
    Very true same for Westminster. No moonlighting

  • Comment number 57.

    Although the major policies of the three main parties seem to be converging there are still issues which divide rather than unite public opinion - such as how and when to start dealing with the HUGE economic deficit; what is really best for the U.K. when it comes to our place in the EU; how to deal with the level of immigration and more importantly what to do about ILLEGAL immigrants; how to build a fairer society with wealth redistribution so that the gap is narrower between the poor and the super rich???
    Cameron, Clegg and Brown all need to swallow their pride and work together which is why I believe that a hung parliament is the best solution for uniting Great Britain once again.

  • Comment number 58.

    A society in which government isn't a stifling 50% of the economy would be a good start.

  • Comment number 59.

    society should work for the benit of all not just the few, we need to understand that everyone deserves a decent standard of living, where everyone contributes to the benifit of all, we seem to have accepted that a monarchy is right and that the bed you are born in gives you special privledges, without work, talent or endeavour, in a fair society
    everyone is equal,and as the same rights as their neighbour, without fear and without intimidation.

  • Comment number 60.

    Rob jones wrote:

    A written constitution
    1.5 million redundancies in the public sector - Increases unemployment to 3.5 - 4 million people.
    Closure of job centres - No public job outlets, only greedy private ones.
    No means testing for core benefits - increase in fraud
    No locking up of the longterm unemployed in detention centres this is human rights abuse - Does this actually happen?!
    Access to the courts for the 16 million who are excluded from the justice system - legal aid? I'd say means tested legal aid to the financially vunerable only.
    citisenship qualifying period 15 years very limited immigration from the EU only work permits up to two years in five. - Currently stands at 13 years. Any ever increasing time period. That flexiblity should be left to the employer, and they should be solely responsible for sponsorship.
    Allow unemployed people to have a pension - So those who already sponge off the system now can get a pension? Hardly sounds fair does it?
    A new body of internal affairs to sack and procecute civil service corruption currently running at 33% in some departments. - Prosecute at whose expense? The taxpayers?
    Human Rights abuse by government to be made a crimminal offence - Amnesty is already available in the UK, and when's the last time the government abused a person's human rights?
    Those earning over 50k in the civil service to have a maximum time in government of 8 years. - Increases the level of employment turnover rates, therefore makes the service less efficient. If limited, should be for long term, like 15 years, and conducted under regular review.
    All government contracts let must have a quota of 10 % senior long term unemployed. - As above.

    Doesn't sound like a society I'd like to live in at all!

  • Comment number 61.

    The thing is, British society has 'evolved' to where we are now, so we probably are more 'broken' than a third world country. People need some control over their own lives but also to see themselves as part of a big society. Yes,i can see where Cameron is coming from. I thnk sociey is 'broken' to some degree; people obviously are opting out of the 'big bit' because of their behaviour.(e.g.cycling on pavements ,wearing of hoods in hot weather, (not a sensible fashion statement and the zombie like appearance of headphone wearing commuters..normal? Talk to people for heavens sake!) I personally don't think life is fun enough in the UK . It's easy to look back through rose coloured specs. but people in Britain dressed better,behaved better,looked healthier generally in the past. There isn't as much optimism about as in the seventies i know that, so what are we going to do about it? Do we really think this is as good as it gets ? Maybe we need to look back and rediscover what worked years ago, try to recreate a post war 'euphoria'. Olympics might do that locally in London but it needs to be national and TV 'events' is not the answer to that. I think that if we were hearing some positive news each day instead of just economy,economy all the time life would be happier. Polititians never seem to mention the arts these days ....So, clock back ,acknowledge the good things from the past and how we achieved them. Jamie Oliver teaching us about nutrition in 2010 really sums up where we have got to, when we knew and local authorites knew about this stuff years ago. I mean did the ancient Greeks have a problem eating ? It's all very much like that kind of thing.. evolving backwards and people making big money out of reinventing amongst other things FOOD and fitness! Yeah, money corrupts, that's the whole problem, difficult to deal with that one really. What's worrying is that society appears to be 'de-educating' itself but is in denial over this, and you have to be a certain age to recognise that.

  • Comment number 62.

    Cameron's "Big Society" seems to be little more than an activist's charter to me.

    Who do you think is going to step in and fill the gaps if the Tories get in and start saying "it's up to you to sort it out if you don't like it"?

    Yes, of course, people or organisations with a self-interest agenda.
    People or organisations with religious, political or financial motives.

    People who simply want a half-decent public service untainted by self-interest or profit will get brushed aside.

    As far as I am aware, No Tory politician can tell anyone how any of these mooted "rights" will actually work in practice.

    Veto Council Tax rises? How? Who? Under what circumstances? What happens if the veto is successful? etc. etc.

    Same with the other examples the Tories quote, like nominating/electing police cheifs and setting up schools.

  • Comment number 63.

    I have a message to Nick Clegg - you are not voted into POWER you are voted into OFFICE! It is that notion of 'power' that bothers me about our politicians and why our society is so wrong. It's about money, money, and POWER, Mr Clegg is a reason not to elect YOU!

  • Comment number 64.

    A society where the people make more of the decisions, not the corrupt politicians. There should more referendums in which people decide the outcome, not the lobbyists who bribe the corrupt MP's in order to vote/support their way. Rotten to the core is Government, which governs how society works.

  • Comment number 65.

    Goverment should be there to serve the people. The've lost their way if they think they should be actively trying to do anything other that provide a few services.

    The labour mantra of trying to mollycoddle people from the cradle to the grave is fundamentally flawed- just look at how they've mismanaged the economy in the name of active government.

    3 days to go, I'm staying up to celebrate the final demise of the failed experiment that was nu-liebour.

  • Comment number 66.

    For all the people who want Britain to have a fairer, more tolerant society, wake up. To demand that the government use force and violence in the name of promoting 'virtue' is at best hypocritical and at worst, immoral, counter-productive and fascistic. Government cannot and should not play at being a grand social engineer, it only causes problems when it sticks its snout in.

    As for what I want: less regulation of the economy; an end to corporate welfare; an end to income tax; massive devolution of tax powers, sentencing guidelines and budget issues to local governments; massive public sector cuts; an end to the firearms ban; legalisation of all drugs; withdrawal from the European Union; reform of the electoral system to a Single Transferable Vote system; the election of all Police Superintendents by public vote in their policing areas; an end to the quasi-nationalised rail system that currently runs and a move to a fully private system; the construction of new nuclear power stations to cope with Britain's future energy demands.

    There's more, but I really don't have the time to list them.

  • Comment number 67.

    We have had more than 12 years of interference from Government dictating what we shoud eat and drink, how we should think, how we are supposed to welcome asylum seekers and change our ways in order that we do not offend anyone who may sue the Government.

    What all the parties need to realise is that their vision of society is not what the people want! They should be asking US what we want not telling the same old lies in the hope of a few votes.

  • Comment number 68.

    It’s OK the Pope will fix it (somebody who has great authority or status) He’s visiting but will need more than the beatitudes to help us

  • Comment number 69.

    The "big society" encourages groups of individuals to take over the running of schools, hospitals, post offices etc. The argument is that if we have a stake in these services they will produce better results and they will be more efficient. Does this argument sound familiar? The last Tory government encouraged us to become stakeholders in the utility companies, gas, electricity and water. The argument then was that we would have a say in how these companies were run and we would have cheaper bills. What happened in reality is that most of these companies are now foreign owned and make huge profits while we pay extortionate bills. The trouble with the "big society" idea is that most of the individuals who become stakeholders will be like those who bought shares in utility companies, motivated by making a fast buck.

  • Comment number 70.

    If someone finally does something about the spongers on the dole it would be great, but I'll believe it when I see it.

    On elections, I think we need to see a change to electoral boundaries so that the current situation is not repeated whereby Labour can be 3rd with about 28% of the vote and end up with more seats than any other party.

    But PR... no. There has never been a winner with 50% of the vote so we would end up with the Lib Dems permanently in power supporting either Labour or the Tories (since we would never see an Con/Lab coalition). How can that be good?

  • Comment number 71.

    Is no journalist going to ask David Cameron something probing about his 'Big Society' idea?

    The Conservative Party's website says:

    'We will establish National Centres for Community Organising.We will fund the training of 5,000 independent
    community organisers over the lifetime of the next Parliament. This national army of community organisers will
    have the skills needed to raise funds to pay for their own salaries, help communities to establish and operate
    neighbourhood groups, and help neighbourhood groups to tackle difficult social challenges. In the US, the
    community organising endowment established by Saul Alinsky has trained generations of community organisers,
    including President Obama.'

    I believe SAUL ALINSKY wrote a book called: 'Rules for Radicals', and that he was in reality a very controversial figure. They are not my cup of tea but many US Republicans (i.e. US Tories) hate Alinsky, seeing him as a 'crypto-communist'. I think we deserve some journalistic probing on Alinsky and his influence in the US.

    I also want to ask the following question:

    What makes anyone think that what amounts to entryist trained 'change managers' coming into local communities, will enhance already hard- working and committed local volunteers and activists. As I see it Cameron's plan my be more controlling (and cost-cutting) than enabling.

    Some answers please, before we wake up on fine morning to discover an iron fist beneath the velvet glove.

  • Comment number 72.

    Society isn't broken - it just doesn't care anymore. There are far too many people who take what they can get - they don't have a clue about what is right or what is fair. If you don't earn/work for it, you shouldn't have it. A fairly simple mantra I think we should all adopt. We wouldn't be in this mess if we did.

    There should be NO tax credits, just better taxation. Tax credits gives you the illusion that you are getting something back.

    There needs to be more responsibility - what you choose to do you own and are responsible for. If you choose to have children, you should be accountable for what they get up to because obviously they haven't learned appropriate behaviour from you. If you choose to spend all your money and not have a pension, then you deserve what you end up with and have a basic lifestyle when you retire. If you choose to immigrate to the UK then you need to assimilate the best you can and NO, you cannot expect to be financially supported or be able to live in your 'ghettos' of a different society.

    There needs to be greater justice and honesty - that includes politicians. Justice needs to be more strict, build more prisons if you need to - yobs and criminals should not be given the illusion that they can do what they want. People are tired of policing their own communities - put Bobbies back on the street not behind the desk.

    Bring back national service - it need not be the military. National service could be in the local community, be part time but a contribution is mandatory for those between 16 and 21. It will not only instill discipline but a greater understanding of our society and what is expected of them. If they are not happy with our society as a result, they are welcome to migrate.

    Just a few ideas...

  • Comment number 73.

    A fair society, which need change at the moment.

    equal pay for women who do the samne jobs, but equal rights for a fathers at the work place, mother and father have very different un written rules.

    equal retirement age for men and women ie 65 for both, something that no government has not got the guts to do, but are happy to increase it for men despite dieing on average 5 years earlier.

    equal rights for fathers to see their children not just finacial responsibility.

    end discrimination and that includes '+ve discrimination'

    dont just invest in public services, they are not the holy grail of the economy, invest in private sector.

    stop manufactoring jobs going to germany because it's easier to make people redundent in the uk

  • Comment number 74.

    I would like a Government that did not try to run my life, make decisions for me or one which tries to force me to accept its own biased political views as being the only acceptable ones.

    e.g. Foreign wars
    e.g. Immigration.
    e.g. Europe referendum.
    e.g. Political Correctness.
    e.g. Feral children.
    e.g. Benefits culture.
    e.g. Police state mentality.

  • Comment number 75.

    40. At 12:33pm on 03 May 2010, Lynn from Sussex wrote:

    No matter how much the Conservatives might like too they are not going to turn society's clock back. As a Agnostic I believe that the dumping of religion or living without religion has jolted the moral compass of society, also didn't the Conservative start the removal of local powers to Central Government in the 80's because most Socialist Councils wouldn't play ball.
    It might surprise you that I believe Labour councils should be banned by law along with, this won't surprise you Conservative Governments. My
    personal views is that nice people need to live next to nasty people and the laws regarding the behaviour of individuals needs to be tightened.
    I'm all for the socially ignorant spending vast amounts of there time picking up Dog excrement and Litter in bright orange clothes.
    And I'm a Liberal.
    I'm also not a Nimby, the street I live in contains both the nice and the nasty, thanks to a excellent community Police Office, she has knocked(figuratively) a lot of these people into shape.

  • Comment number 76.

    70. At 1:23pm on 03 May 2010, chris911t wrote:

    If someone finally does something about the spongers on the dole it would be great, but I'll believe it when I see it.

    On elections, I think we need to see a change to electoral boundaries so that the current situation is not repeated whereby Labour can be 3rd with about 28% of the vote and end up with more seats than any other party.

    But PR... no. There has never been a winner with 50% of the vote so we would end up with the Lib Dems permanently in power supporting either Labour or the Tories (since we would never see an Con/Lab coalition). How can that be good?
    Not that I disagree about cracking down on benefit cheats, but the spongers on the bonuses cost us more.

    Regarding a majority vote, when was the last time this entire system got 50%+ of the public vote, even if you do count all the fraudulent votes toward voter turn out which they do.

  • Comment number 77.

    David Cameron's 'BIG SOCIETY' ideas are based on the ideas of a long-since dead American called SAUL ALINSKY (just search for his name in the Conservative Party's website).

    Are the many, many people working to bring about a better life for people in local UK communities really have trust in thousands of 'trained' change managers coming into their areas packed full of officially sanctioned and financed ideas taken word for word from someone whose ideas came out of American (not British) experience, and in particular conditions, circumstances and ways of life, finance, income and laws in the Chicago area. I fear a might mis-match, a lot of arm-twisting, disillusionment and an awful lot of wasted money and setbacks for real change.

    This 'Big Society' notion needs the glare of a spotlight on it before it is too late.

  • Comment number 78.

    Cleggs Society. (Sorry Power under the Cleggys)
    We all will have
    Pie in the sky by and by, Pie in the sky when you die

  • Comment number 79.

    Society is top down - those at the top set an example to those below. There is a correlation between the dishonesty demostrated by our polictical leaders and the eroding and selfish attitude of society. Until those at the top set a example then the society will continue to fall apart and spilt into different social and ecomonical groups.

    Our failing is due to failure of state policy and the actions of polictical groups for short term gain at the cost of long term people success.

    This is the reason and all other reasons and causes spilt from this. This debate is over but the problem continues.

  • Comment number 80.

    #70 -

    But PR... no. There has never been a winner with 50% of the vote so we would end up with the Lib Dems permanently in power supporting either Labour or the Tories (since we would never see an Con/Lab coalition). How can that be good?


    But First Past The Post... no. There has never been a winner with 50% of the vote so we would end up with the minority (35-40%) of those who voted holding 100% of the power (since we would never see a Con/Lab coalition).

    It's a vastly smaller minority if you measure it on those ELIGIBLE to vote - many of whom don't vote simply BECAUSE they know their vote won't count for anything under the current system.

    How can that be good?

  • Comment number 81.

    As much as i would like a better society rather tham a ambigious bigger society. It just cannot be achieved without adequate finance being provided by central government. Whilst Education is suppose to be delegated to a local level it is governed by the level of funding provided my the national government. The same goes for roads, health & care even the police, so please don't let the politicians try to spin a headline catching phase that has no real substance.

    i would be more supportive of David Cameron if he would be honest and forget forget he was a spin doctor and admit we need a fairer society where all citizens are equal and that their vote `is based on equality and not the marginal seat you might live. I just cannot believe that he really believes deep down that first past the post system is truely fair. Unfortunately like his buddies in the shadow cabinet he is ruled by his inner instict that his party would never be able to get the majority of the electoral vote. We need a society that is fair and of benefit for ALL, not just those born with a spoon in their mouth. Society should be fair, a society that should bring rewards by what you achieve by honest endeavour, a society that is not moulded or rewarded by greed and unfairness. A society where we have an honest open media not controlled by bigots.

    Yes, lets have a society that works by ensuring that the Country and its people comes before Party dogma. Lets give it a try by voting for a hung parliament where Brown, Cameron and Clegg are forced to work for the benefits of all and not their party paymasters or the whims of the media moguls. I know I am looking for utopia, but this election is the first in my lifetime that provides that real opportunity to get away from the dreadful corrupt two party system that has split our society for years. Yes, lets vote for a new society that really works in the interest of us all.

    I urge all voters to vote tactically for change

  • Comment number 82.

    "PAUL WILLIAMS wrote: The thing is, British society has 'evolved' to where we are now, so we probably are more 'broken' than a third world country."

    Paul, have you ever actually BEEN to a third world country? Have you ever seen hundreds of people living in "houses" made out of old rubbish? Have you ever watched someone slowly starve to death?

    You can debate exactly where the UK lies on a scale of "brokenness" but a country that provides the vulnerable with free healthcare, council housing, income support and old age pensions is NOT, in my opinion, a society that is "more 'broken' than a third world country"

    And whilst some things have gone awry, don't forget all the positive evolution like reductions in discrimination and introduction of the minimum wage.

  • Comment number 83.

    How should society work?

    Rationally and with foresight.

    Promising free biscuits to passengers on the Titanic would not have stopped it sinking.

    The UK needs to look up, forward and outwards not down, backward and inwards as it has during this entire election campaign.

    Government large or small is useless if it faces the wrong direction. It needs to ignore all voters pleas about ‘services’ and focus instead on reorganising the UK to better compete in the global marketplace.

    The last 13 years have been a well-meant but misplaced and shortsighted focus on state welfare of the people at the expense of long-term future.

    Pie in the sky dreams about ‘a future fair for all’ ignore the fact that the UK’s share of global business is shrinking and if you ain’t got no cake then you ain’t got nothing to share, fairly or otherwise.

    Growing the UK cake is the priority and all else needs to be subordinate to that, especially low international business priorities like publicly provided social services, in their widest sense, that the UK cannot afford for the foreseeable future.

  • Comment number 84.

    "How should society work?" - we should judge society on how it treats its weakest, not its strongest. That's my question for the politicans. How will you help the elderly, the mentally ill, the asylum seekers escaping from torture, children with learning difficulties, the long term unemployed in areas of little work (and so forth)?

  • Comment number 85.

    A read of the www. (East Anglian daily times) is worth a read and you can see just what the CEO of Suffolk County Council thinks. It appears as rate payers we are investing £6.5 million to keep the regulator happy and employed in there jobs. It seems that this cash could have been better spent repairing some 600k pot holes in Suffolk Roads.
    Just how important are we people in Suffolk? Not so Gordon Brown would think he left Ipswich this morning drove through Suffolk Coastal constituency, or flew over, to Waveny and by doing so not only ignored the constituents there but also his young hopeful Adam Leeder. Perhaps at this coming election we should ignore him. So clearly GB thinks society stinks.

  • Comment number 86.

    We need a working Society where we have a real voice, we can start by reforming our outdated and unfair electoral system.

    For those in marginal seats to be the real important decisions makers as to who forms our next Government is crazy. In fact, it only highlights by supporting such an outdated and unfair system you are not really interested in a fairer working society, but just your own selfish party interests.

  • Comment number 87.

    I am a (self funded) volunteer worker and have been on and off (between working hard to raise the funds) since the early 90s. I would be happy to volunteer on schemes that would aid or serve my local community given that I received basic housing, food and some support during the projects period.

    However, like any other socialy minded volunteer (and I expect unlike the idealisticly motivated ones which are the majority) there is no way that I would work on a Tory proposed scheme. This greedy political party is expecting the common people to do their work whilst they continue to take our money and provide tax cuts to the least needy in society.

    Given that we get a hung parliament I would advise that the Greens are given the job of recruiting the unemployed into semi-voluntary workers groups, I an not an avid environmentalist but feel they would be the best minded people to run such an organisation. That organisation could help with any need within their community for which they are suitably experienced and convert waste ground into community gardens that they can use to help sustain their group.

  • Comment number 88.

    The fact that politicians from all over the spectrum seem to think society is something that can be enforced from the top down suggests that none of them are fit to oversee society.

  • Comment number 89.

    Didnt that wicked witch Thatcher once say that there is no such thing as society ?
    All David Cameron wants to do is bring back is fox hunting for his rich chums "Tally ho"
    Those toffs that like hunting defenceless animals might want to try and hunt something that will fight back.

  • Comment number 90.

    As an American who is well aquainted with the dangers of ideological conservatism, I fear for the British people. In America, Corporate America has done a great deal of damage to our social and political processes as it attempts to turn America into one large Corporation, replete with an education system designed to turn children into non thinking uncreative machines. Corporate America is aided by the propagadist Rupert Murdoch, from whose Fox News conglomerate (Sky news in the UK)he issues buzz words, spins and talking points that attempt to make ideological conservatism acceptable. The Tea party is an example. In Cameron I hear echos of Murdochianism, which boiled down is the effort to sell the idea that that the value of money is money itself, and to reject the idea that that value can only reside in what money can buy, which often means things that cannot be summed up in terms of cash. While Cameron often sounds reasonable, behind his words a great darkness lurks.

  • Comment number 91.

    How should society work?
    Fairly! Unfortunately it can't happen under a monetary system in which greed is a virtue.

  • Comment number 92.

    The British society in which i belong as a citizen should be made free for all to belong without racial restrictions on unwarranted modalities to create favour for a few at the detriment of many. Things i will the Lib dems, conservatives and labour to do is to rectify certain principles that will make every citizen and resident more adaptive to government policies despite ones race. Blacks are so unfavoured in this country raely but a few you see a black man in the police force, fire brigade, ambulance crew(paramedics), Prison Officers. Were you see more blacks is on retail shops as guards on the shop floor, cleaners, school cover supervisors etc. Its too bad and their should be a change to this situation. Equal opportunity for races in the country. We should love each other and put heads together to keep our country the greater.

  • Comment number 93.

    We are always being told that support services are available for parents or carers, but I have yet to see these support services actually support the people rather than league tables. I don't believe anyone in the big 3 know what it is like to have very little & have to fight to get the support that you need. In my experience if you have money you can have everything, if you're poor you just have to make do with whatever they are willing to give, which isn't necessairily what you need or have asked for. They country is broken in terms of government, but society is not. I see many instances of the community making up for the diabolical lack of government care for the elderly & disabled. It is thanks to the many charities & volunteers that any support services are running at all.

    I fundraise for a charity Action for Children. One of the things they do is contribute to the running of Sure Start centres. These government initiatives are only part government funded. If these centres start showing promise of being good the government withdraw their portion of the funding with the excuse 'you're doing well enough'. Basically forcing them to cut much needed services to bring the centre back down to the level of government funded centres. I don't see any different attitudes on the horizon, in fact I can see far more support services being reliant on charitable donations & voluntary workers.

  • Comment number 94.

    If politicians really want to 'listen to the people' we should help them.

    Everyone on the electoral register to have a computerised connection to the parliamentary voting system.

    After they've debated their latest bright idea and shuffle off to say aye or nay, we all vote for home on the debate.

    The result will then be a democratic result. No more westminster manipulation. The ayes have it: twenty million to three.

    Now that would be democratic.

  • Comment number 95.

    How should society 'work'? I'm a bit fed up of work. Seems to make alot of people pretty miserable. Suggest we stop doing so much of it.

  • Comment number 96.

    Government should be a big as is needed to deliver the public goods that it is tasked with providing... but no bigger. I am disappointed by competing ideologies and succesive governments firstly centralizing powers and then decentrallizing them. Both processes just add cost and neither is 'right'. Should we define the purpose of government first and then decide the ratio of government to private sector or population? If we could establish a relationship, then perhaps we would stop this see-saw effect, it might 'right-size' government.

  • Comment number 97.

    Not one of the parties offers everything to anyone. We should have a coalition, proportional representation - anything that doesn't throw the majority of votes in the bin simply cos they weren't first past the post.

  • Comment number 98.

    Britain's society, as a whole, is broken. In the developed world, Britain is among the top 3 worst countries on all the following indicators: teenage pregancy, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, crime rate relative to the population, violent crime, obesity, divorce, single parenthood, child abuse, child fatalities in car accidents, depression, suicide. It's pretty clear that something is wrong.

    Much of the entire resources of the NHS, police, courts, and Local Councils are now devoted to keeping a lid on this broken society, to cleaning up the mess it leaves behind. I work in a Local Council and we estimate that about a third to a half of all our revenue (that's your Council Tax) is spent dealing with crime, preventing crime, or dealing with its consequences. It's a VERY expensive way to run a society, the way this country is doing it.

  • Comment number 99.

    It seems as though the Tory Party has lost the courage of its convictions. Whilst it remains true that a successful Tory Party must appeal to the centre ground in politics, it is wrong, then to assume, that innovative and radical policies must be abjured. The ideal policy – and one policy is better than ten – would be radical, far-reaching, grounded in conservative values and of appeal to all but the most reactionary parts of the electorate.

    In the current debate it seems that everyone has lost the will to advocate significant reductions in taxation. It is as though victory has been conceded to socialism on the battlefield of the public services. Is it not now the time for a “Progressive Tory” to state a few self-evident truths? Given that Daniel Hannan has detached himself from the constraints of Cameron’s march to the centre ground – and has done so on the issue of liberty – perhaps he should elucidate these truths?

    Taxation is evil – it may in some cases be a necessary evil – but it should be minimised at all costs. Why? – because taxation involves the sequestration of wealth from the citizen by the politician so that the bureaucrat may then exercise choices, notionally on behalf of the citizenry, in how that wealth is to be disbursed. In practice, the public sector is parasitic on the public purse, as it will always feed itself before it feeds the citizen. Furthermore, in taking choice away from the citizen and exercising it by proxy, the public sector regularly commits monopsony – the denial of free and fair competition through the exercise of monopoly purchasing power within a rigged marketplace. And this amounts to an assault on the most fundamental conservative value – freedom of the individual.

    Freedom is only evidenced when the individual can exercise choices in what they do and how they do it. It is true that we have much freedom in many aspects of our lives – travel, speech, diet and association to name but a few areas. But, even in those areas where the State exercises fairly loose constraints - through sensible regulation – true choices are only available to those who possess what economists call effective demand or discretionary spending power. When the State sequestrates wealth through excessive taxation it shrinks the discretionary spending power of the citizen to such an extent that the taxation itself amounts to an assault on basic freedoms. Further, when the state arrogates unto itself the right to administer the delivery of essential services, then the assault on freedom of choice is even clearer.

    The has been much talk of late about the role of the State a commissioner of services, with competition being provided through a multiplicity of providers, some of whom may be in the private sector. It is important to recognise that true competition only exists when an individual citizen freely can make a value for money distinction between providers that are vying for trade in a free market place. As anyone who has seen the public sector tendering process at work will attest, bureaucrat choice is a very poor substitute for the judgement of individual citizens about those choices which are in their own parochial and immediate best interests.

    Socialism has always sought to transfer wealth from rich to poor. The principle mechanism devised to achieve this has been to tax the rich and to give benefits to the poor. However, an additional mechanism, the arrogation by the State of power over the delivery of essential services, has somehow become enshrined as an essential component of wealth redistribution policies. Both of these socialist nostrums should be challenged.

    First, taxing the rich and giving benefits to the poor is a “Revenue” rather than a “Capital” solution. State benefits will never enrich the poor; they just institutionalise the poverty trap. Conservatives, as believers in capitalism, should seek to transfer wealth, not just benefits, to the poor. The sale of council houses to their tenants was a classical example of compassionate capitalism and we should urgently search for new ways of wealth creation for the poorest in society.

    Second, if we believe that true freedom is only achieved when individuals have the wealth to exercise free choices about all the goods and services that they might wish to purchase, then the purchasing decision must be transferred from the bureaucrat to the citizen in every feasible circumstance.

    Third, if we believe that capitalism is the preferred method for the delivery of goods and services – because the profit motive moderated by competition is the best mechanism for delivering quality at the lowest cost – then conservatives have an obligation to ensure that, in every practical circumstance, public services should be delivered by profit seeking private enterprises operating freely within a competitive marketplace.

    These ideas can be unified under a single policy strap-line – “Transferring Wealth from the State to the Citizen”. We should set out a programme to transfer ownership to our citizenry, of the all those state enterprises which cannot be defended as “Natural Monopolies”. Every hospital and every school should be incorporated as a limited company with share capital distributed to all in the relevant catchment area. It would be important to transfer the shares to citizens rather than sell them – millions of citizens would become capitalists at a stroke, able to trade their shares or to retain them as profitable investments.

    Equitable education funding would be achieved by distributing vouchers to parents each year for the purchase of the national curriculum from any school of their choosing. By moving every school to the private sector, the damaging class-divide between the state sector and the independent sector would be removed – all schools including those in what is now called the independent sector would take these vouchers. A continuum of provision from independent schools would emerge, with some charging nothing, some charging for extra curricular activities and some charging significant top-up fees.

    Healthcare, free at the point of need, would be preserved for all emergency and acute conditions, and in a highly subsidised form for all treatment of chronic conditions, by the introduction of a hypothecated tax that funded insurance payments to all patients. Citizens could choose their insurer from within a competitive marketplace. Emergency and acute care would be paid for directly by the insurer according to locally agreed schedules of rates for specified healthcare interventions. These rates would be negotiated between insurers and hospital companies within a free market. Chronic care would be subject to citizen choice of provider and basic care would be reimbursed by their insurer with “Optional Extras” paid for out of advance voluntary contributions or ad-hoc top-up fees. Thus the principle of free healthcare at the point of need would be retained for all accident and acute care, whilst a regime of differential insurance premiums would disincentivise the adverse lifestyle choices that require greater reliance on the healthcare system.

    In summary, we privatise all healthcare and education, eliminate the sclerosis of state control, introduce competition into those marketplaces and thereby significantly reduce the costs of service delivery and simultaneously increase the quality of the services provided; empower the citizen with real choice rather than bureaucrat mediated choice, and give every citizen – even the very poorest in society – a first step on the capitalism ladder. Together, these policies would reduce the tax burden and more fairly distribute the benefits of taxation throughout society. Who would dare to oppose such policies? Or should I ask –who would dare to advocate them?

  • Comment number 100.

    Proportional representation, compromise, and as much freedom as possible. :)

    Decades of "us vs them" politics leads to so much waste. Look at the National Identity Register for one example. Both the Tories and Lib Dems would scrap it, but Labour have spent billions on it already. What a waste of money! How many other schemes do we keep starting and stopping, throwing money down the toilet? If we had a truly representative government, these things could be negotiated and decided on in advance.

    The "worm" tool on the last debate clearly showed the public reacted better to positive talk and the idea of working together. I think people really are sick of wasted votes, tactical votes, and voting for the "least worst". Reform would open the doors to positive voting and real representation of everyone's views in parliament.


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