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Daily View: The Tories' 'Big Society' ideas

Clare Spencer | 10:22 UK time, Thursday, 1 April 2010

davidcameron01042.jpgCommentators discuss the merits of the Conservative "Big Society" policy which would attempt to get everyone involved in a community group.

The Times editorial welcomes the idea but suggests "big" is the wrong word:

"The Tories stress that they value public provision but wish to make it more intimate. That is the right question. Many of the problems in public service are about providing individually suitable goods. This is more easily done by a small, local organisation. But, like most big ideas, The Big Society may turn out to be smaller than it seems."

The Guardian editorial considers David Cameron's ideas about charity:

"First, his enthusiasm for a strong society is not actually shared by his party's more ideologically Thatcherite members, large numbers of whom still see cutting the state as a virtue in itself and are not overly fussed about the social consequences. These free marketeers are likely to see the Big Society's community initiatives as a waste of time and money. Second, and much more important, it is hard to see how the Big Society approach cannot benefit the rich more than the poor."

Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian says the idea that everybody would be a member of a community group is good in principle but not practical:

"All this do-gooding community involvement is much like apple pie. Delicious in principle, but hard to find the time to actually make in the rush of everyday life. It's hard to see how it fits, for example, with another of Cameron's favourite themes of family life and work-life balance. Large proportions of parents are already anxious about how little time they have to spend with their children given work demands, so it's hard to see how they will cheerfully leave the toddlers behind to go out to that meeting on anti-social behaviour or litter on the streets or dog dirt."

Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail calls David Cameron's speech superlative, saying it is the only hope we have to escape moral squalor:

"Cameron's vision amounts to nothing less than a total revolution in the way Britain is governed.
He acknowledged as much when he said that while the six decades since the end of the Second World War had been about building the Welfare State, the decades to come will be about building the Big Society."

Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph calls the Big Society policies David Cameron's Eureka moment:

"Mr Cameron has a plan for revolutionising the relationship between the individual and the state. It is ambitious. It is detailed. It is in many ways a gamble, because its success is by no means assured. It demands some quite profound changes in the way we have got used to behaving. It will require different thinking on our part. Once exposed to the toxic daily demands of government, it may prove to be wildly over-optimistic. No matter: he has told us what he wants to do in quite exhaustive detail."

James Forsyth in the Spectator offers a tweak:

"Next time Cameron talks about how a Conservative government will encourage the Big Society, he should mention how a Conservative government would stop state run bodies abusing their position in this way."

Links in full

BBC News BBC | David Cameron promises to create 'neighbourhood army'
GuardianGuardian | Conservative party: Mr Cameron's big idea
GuardianMadeleine Bunting | Guardian | David Cameron bigs up society
MailPeter Oborne | Daily Mail | Vision and hope to heal land mired in moral squalor
TimesTimes | Big Ambition
TelegraphBenedict Brogan | Telegraph | At last, I can see what David Cameron is on about
SpectatorJames Forsyth | Spectator | Curbing the state

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