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'I am different to Margaret Thatcher'

Nick Robinson | 14:29 UK time, Monday, 14 February 2011

Moments after the prime minister made a passionate defence of the Big Society I interviewed him in the Cabinet Room where Margaret Thatcher used to sit.

He told me:

"I am different to Margaret Thatcher, different to past Conservative governments, this whole idea of emphasising the importance of building the Big Society and all the things that we can do, Government is not just making cuts, sitting back and saying 'let's hope society steps forward."

He defied critics of his big idea saying that he didn't care whether people thought he was being naïve. The government was bound to be blamed for cuts, he said, but that didn't mean that councils did not have a choice over whether to cut in ways that did less harm to charities and voluntary organisations.

Finally, he seemed to accept that the government had been making mistakes as it was going so fast.

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Below is a transcript of some of the most interesting moments.

On the Big Society:

David Cameron: "Now, people that say 'oh, that's naive' I don't care, that's what I think, that's what I think government ought to be doing, and it's what my government is going to do."

On whether cuts are undermining the Big Society:

Nick Robinson: "Isn't it grown up to say, look, the cuts I am imposing, that my government has chosen to put on councils, will mean cuts to services even when councils deal with top people's pay and merge the back room. The councils you've listed are all cutting front-line services. They have to do it."

DC: "Inevitably there will be some cuts that are difficult and painful, that is clearly the case. But councils do have a choice to try and do these things in the right way. I think of my own small council in my own constituency. They are struggling hard so they don't reduce the budget of the citizens advice bureau. I happen to think that's a good decision. They are sharing their chief executive with the neighbouring council, so all councils, I know we have given them a difficult job to do but I do believe they can do it in a way that is friendly to building a bigger society."

NR: "Are you saying don't blame me? Blame the council?"

DC: "No, clearly, everyone in the end will blame the government for having to make cuts. I hope they will fairly say that we are doing this not because we want to but because we have to, because of the inheritance we've had from the last Labour government that racked up these debts, racked up this deficit that means that frankly whoever was sitting here as prime minister would have to make difficult decisions about spending and tax."

NR: "The suspicion that people have I think is what you're effectively doing is getting the councils to make the cuts and saying don't blame me, I'm only the prime minister"...

DC: "No, I'm not saying that, as you've just seen, I'm absolutely not saying that. You know, the responsibility for the mess we're in, I blame the last government, the banks that got us into this mess and all the rest of it. But I absolutely accept that I am having to take very difficult decisions as prime minster and I know that will mean that, you know, this is not going to be an easy year, and it will not be an easy year for me. I absolutely accept that. I see it as my duty. I'm trying to do the right thing for the country."

On whether he is like Margaret Thatcher:

NR: "Can I put to you what I think underlies some people's concern about Big Society, the cuts and the banks... You presented yourself as a different sort of Conservative, and I think there are some people who believe that who now look at you and say Margaret Thatcher all over again?"

DC: "Well I just, I am, I mean, I am different to Margaret Thatcher, different to past Conservative governments. This whole idea of emphasising the importance of building the Big Society and all the things that we can do, government is not just making cuts, sitting back and saying 'let's hope society steps forward'. You know, we are establishing the Big Society bank that's lending, (interruption), look these are really important points... (interruption)...

NR: "But they think, I suspect, many people, they think, I think, he cares, he seems to say the right things, but we see some dreadful things happening as a result of cuts, and in the end he says you've no alternative?"

DC: "Well I don't, I do think that what we are doing economically is the right answer, because as I say we are borrowing this year, you know, more than countries that are in real difficulties. The plan we inherited of halving the deficit over four years, would have got us in four years' time to where Portugal was last year. That's no plan at all. I do believe that you have a duty in this job to do the right thing, even if that is painful and difficult, and getting the debts and the deficit under control has to be done But just because that is your duty doesn't mean you shouldn't have, as I do, a burning mission to try and build a stronger bigger society where people look out for each other more, where people make a bigger contribution and work together to make this country a better place."

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    A strange comment, considering that the policies are increasingly Thatcherite (only, strangely, worse for not being bravely and openly so). Especially coming a few days after his own MPs accepted that the policies pursued are Thatcher-like. For a bit of fun (shameless plug) read my article:

    Last Night I Dreamt of Margaret Thatcher Again

  • Comment number 2.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 3.

    It's a pity he's not different to Tony Blair

  • Comment number 4.

    "and it will not be an easy year for me." OMG I feel so sorry for David. A whole year of unease for our suffering PM. Good job not many people will share his discomfort for so long a period? What Galaxy is this deluded (at best) person living on? Does he (unlike Ken Clarke) have any idea what he and his willing lieutenant are doing to millions people over the next four and more years!

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm surprised he granted you an audience Nick.

    The BBC have been on 'selecto-vision' reporting for some time now.

    it's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 6.

    Dave is showing the same kind of arrogant attitude to the Big Society that Thatcher showed towards the Poll Tax, IE "I believe it’s the right thing to do & I’m PM so there”.
    Give her a ring Dave & I’m sure she will advise on what could happen next.
    He’s right about one thing though; he’s no Margret Thatcher...not even close let alone get the cigar.

  • Comment number 7.

    "I am different to Margaret Thatcher, different to past Conservative Governments"

    No kidding. The lack of any political spinal vertebrae proves that. He's what she would have called a "wet". Much closer to Heath than you know who.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Nick Robinson: "Isn't it grown up to say, look, the cuts I am imposing, that my government has chosen to put on councils, will mean cuts to services even when councils deal with top people's pay and merge the back room. The councils you've listed are all cutting front-line services. They have to do it."

    DC: "Inevitably there will be some cuts that are difficult and painful, that is clearly the case. But councils do have a choice to try and do these things in the right way."

    Somebody remind me please, just how much Newham council have just spent on a new HQ building? Why, thank you Auntie. Most kind of you.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-11984977
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NR: "Can I put to you what I think underlies some people's concern about Big Society, the cuts and the banks... You presented yourself as a different sort of Conservative, and I think there are some people who believe that and now look at you and say Margaret Thatcher all over again?"

    Only because you tell them so, Nick. You're not in any hurry to take a different tack to Her Majesty's "Loyal" Opposition, are you? I dont even like the man for Gods sake and even I can tell that he and she who must not be named are poles apart on every level. All this is doing is leading the more dumb members of the proletariat around by the nose.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    NR: "But they think, I suspect, they think he cares, he seems to say the right things, but we see some dreadful things happening as a result of cuts, and in the end he says you've no alternative?"

    So what was the alternative then, Nick? Would you have taken this line with Alistair Darling? Are you going to take this line with Ed Balls?

    I somehow doubt it. Doubt it very much.

  • Comment number 8.

    1#

    Yesterdays chip wrappers AGAIN. I see nobody's yet pressed the "Like" button and you have no hit counter. And probably no audience without the free advertising....

  • Comment number 9.

    Same old tories same old lies. Tories have been on about the big society for years yet do little to help the process. They caused 2 recessions last time they were in power and that had nothing to do with the banks. Labour had to clean up the mess they left after 80s and early 90s. looks like labour will have to sort out another mess the tories will leave. All tories are concerned with is capitalism yet time and time again they try it and it fails. They should scrap capialism and get back to promises they made about taing banks more for damage they caused. I can't believe people still believe what tories say on their plan on big society its doomed to fail before it even starts.

  • Comment number 10.

    Something seems to be going wrong here with the concept of the Big Society. Government supports Charities with money far too much already, a movement away from this would be a good idea. A lot is wasted. Now if the idea is that Government should support Charties more, in order to produce the Big Society, that is not Big Society, that is Big state. Which would in fact be more in line with socialist model of society. Plus it would be unaffordable at this time.

    The ideas of the Big Society, I thought, was the redistribution of power from Government to the man in the street. In turn, this would mean people taking much more responsibility for not only their own lives, but the community around them. If money is needed from the Government to provide for the Big Society, this completely defeats the goal you are aiming at in the first place. Government would merely be telling people, through money to care more, this would in no way mean that they would. Again this would be state control and not the free will of the public to sort out problems of funding and looking after their own communities.


  • Comment number 11.

    Maggie Thatcher would be spinning in her grave at The Big Society, just she hasn't made it there yet.

  • Comment number 12.

    5. At 3:17pm on 14 Feb 2011, rockRobin7 wrote:

    "I'm surprised he granted you an audience Nick. The BBC have been on 'selecto-vision' reporting for some time now.

    it's grim up north London..." [ this is getting very tired! ]

    ----------

    ^ Is that really the best you can do, Robin??

    Back on topic... just reading Cameron's responses during Nick's interview has given me a bad hair day - so much bluster!

    So now Cameron is doing his best to turn his own party stalwarts against him by desperately trying to distance himself from Thatcher.

    And lines like: "...a burning mission to try and build a stronger bigger society where people look out for each other more, where people make a bigger contribution and work together to make this country a better place."

    ^ Sounds great, doesn't it? So do motherhood and apple pie. Nobody could ever argue against those being a good thing, surely??

    Unless, of course, the mother is an abusive drunkard and the apple pie contains e-coli (there's a methaphor there somewhere, err, honest!).

  • Comment number 13.

    'I am different to Margaret Thatcher' is the title of Nick Robinson's blog.

    Oh, the audacity and arrogance of the Prime Minister, David Cameron. Plus, the sliding/wriggling and serpent in the manger type deceit of the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.. is, in many ways, actually worse as he, unlike David Cameron, has 'gorn' to ground and has little courage or any idea of what a senior position of Deputy Prime Minister actually means? So, Nick Clegg, wake up, find your balls, and make your highly priviledged position work for those who elected you - and who pay for you?

    Unspeakable words/phrases to describe the behavior, of the above two Leaders, yes Leaders - who purport to represent, and tell the people of this country what to do, do not fail me - but my polite side and BBC Moderators certainly do. No doubt, imagination and freedom of thought cannot be moderated?

  • Comment number 14.

    Gosh, the Unthinking Right really have it in for the BBC, don't they?

  • Comment number 15.

    Its a shame that he did not say I'm like thatcher BUT not like Brown or Blair that would have been magic.

  • Comment number 16.

    He is different from Mrs Thatcher and other Tory goverments he has always been a Liberal minded Tory. He is dealing with the situation more gingerly than many of his backbenchers would like . He is carrying out reforms that are needed and these are the same things Tony Blair and New Labour wanted to do , but were scared to do because the public sector unions did not like them. People are hurting from the cuts ,we all are but if we dont take them things will get worse and the pain will be greater .2011 will be a bad year for the coalition but if they have made the right calls people will see things start to get better.

  • Comment number 17.

    sturdyblog 1

    Perhaps you care to enlighten us further. Didn't Alistair Darling say that cuts under Labour would have been greater than anything experienced under Thatcher ?

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    Of course Cameron isn't Thatcher. He's much younger. I'm sure given time I could think of something else...(I did consider the gender thing, but that's a red herring)

  • Comment number 20.

    Under thatcher we had thousands of miners and steel workers put out of decent, hard work and forced into poverty whilst the yuppies drank champagne and contemplated what kind of porsche to buy next.

    The only difference under cameron is that he is targetting care workers and librarians not miners.

    ... oh and at least thatcher had the balls to take responsibility for her actions instead of hiding behind scams like 'big society' and 'localism'

  • Comment number 21.

    #8. At 3:28pm on 14 Feb 2011, Fubar_Saunders

    Come on fubar - answer the question!!!

    Are you in favour of this BS (big society)?

    Are you willing to come back from belgium and work for free?

  • Comment number 22.

    In one important sense this is a conspiracy by a powerful vested interest group, namely politicians, against the people.

    Cameron, and Harman who followed him on the piece I saw at lunchtime, in essence blamed the global financial crisis for 'what went wrong', neatly sidestepping the fact that our Public Sector Debt total of £1Tn is comprised £300Bn (previous Tory administration), £400Bn (outgoing Labour Government, £125Bn (supporting the banks)and finally £175Bn (interest to date).

    These politicians are doing what they do best, being disingenuous in the extreme.

    This blogger has zero sympathy for Dave, Harriet and their motley crews because ultimately it is us, the people , who will suffer for their errors, not them.

  • Comment number 23.

    So now we know. 'The Old Etonian Clown' believes that elected leaders should be pooling their resources.
    Is it reasonable to assume that he has been overly influenced by the Prime Minister's of Ireland and Iceland? Disaster in both those places, was caused by the policies now being pursued by our Westminster lightweights. Mervyn King know's a thing or two.

  • Comment number 24.

    pdavies...

    'the unthinking right'... are they the nemesis of the 'deficit denying left'???

    it's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    maybe David Cameron should rename the big society and christen it @The Big Deficit'

    Then the 'progressives' might finally understand the damage they have done.

    Clearing up newlabour's mess. It's a grim old job.

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 28.

    14. Ah the truth does hurt you lefties.

  • Comment number 29.

    It's a shame Cameron is determined to turn this into a PR exercise for himself. He really should be trying to promote organisations such as CSV. I find it incredible that I'd never heard of this organisation until all of this Big Society nonsense kicked off. We don't need daft political ideas, we need those in charge to help out what's already there and proved to be effective.

  • Comment number 30.

    13.
    Substitute the names Brown, Miliband and Balls and you would be right.

  • Comment number 31.

    In the same way as it is a little disingenious of Labour to claim that the Tory cuts are so much worse than theirs then it is equally so that the Tories continue with their banal 'deficit-deniers' brainless mantra.

    Labour policy of halving over 4 years would mean roughly a reduction of 60-65% over 5 years compared to Tories completely remove tactic. This would be equivalent I reckon to around £50-£100bn on debt by the end of the parliament. Leaving us like Portugal Dave - no I dont think so.

    He is different from Thatcher - she could and still can do economics and maths better than Dave (both have bad politics in common). But then he's a Big Picture kind of guy (probably why he's flogging thi Big Society thing to death) - detail not his strong point.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    10. At 3:35pm on 14 Feb 2011, Susan-Croft wrote:

    Something seems to be going wrong here with the concept of the Big Society. Government supports Charities with money far too much already, a movement away from this would be a good idea.
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Indeed. A charity that depends on the public purse for funding isnt a charity.

    Its a quango.

  • Comment number 34.

    At 3:35pm on 14 Feb 2011, Susan-Croft wrote:
    Something seems to be going wrong here with the concept of the Big Society. Government supports Charities with money far too much already, a movement away from this would be a good idea. A lot is wasted. Now if the idea is that Government should support Charties more, in order to produce the Big Society, that is not Big Society, that is Big state. Which would in fact be more in line with socialist model of society. Plus it would be unaffordable at this time.

    The ideas of the Big Society, I thought, was the redistribution of power from Government to the man in the street. In turn, this would mean people taking much more responsibility for not only their own lives, but the community around them. If money is needed from the Government to provide for the Big Society, this completely defeats the goal you are aiming at in the first place. Government would merely be telling people, through money to care more, this would in no way mean that they would. Again this would be state control and not the free will of the public to sort out problems of funding and looking after their own communities.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Although our political viewpoints vary wildly, we seem to have reached some of the same conclusions re BS. It does have unfortunate overtones of Big Government. The sort that tells people how to live a better life. Nanny knows best. For the greater good socialism. The left will be suspicious while the right will be truely puzzled.

  • Comment number 35.

    Conservative policies are the stuff of which dreams are made.

    Thatcher's dreams, that is.

  • Comment number 36.

    #20 On a serious note, the paradox that has flown under the radar, is that amongst all this talk of localism and Big Society, three Conservative councils are planning to merge into one Super-council to save costs:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11604540

    On a less serious note, the new Thatcher biopic starring Meryl Streep has been rated 18. It is deemed completely unsuitable for miners.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    jon112dk

    whereas under Blair and Brown we had eight million 'economically inactive' with 2.5 million claiming incapacity benefits.

    Are you telling me that was better? Thirteen years and all newlabour could manage was to shove a cheque in peoples' hands paid for by one or more of the more than a hundred new taxes introduced under newlabour. Another magnificent achievement.

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    #20 jon112uk wrote:
    "Under thatcher we had thousands of miners and steel workers put out of decent, hard work"

    Yes, producing goods at prices that the customer refused to pay.

  • Comment number 41.

    Rockborin - do you have anything to say...ever?

    If Cameron is admitting to making mistakes then he ceratinly is different to Thatrcher and previous Tory administrations.

  • Comment number 42.

    Jim 327 - Totally agree. Cameron is definitely not the same as Thatcher and is more pragmatic.

    I actually like the idea that he chooses his battles. The issue with forests was totally misrepresented by the media with Labour jumping on the bandwagon but Cameron has obviously decided this is one battle he is not going to fight and is considering alternatives. Maggie would not have done that.

    There is so much negativity around the "Big Society" idea but this has been going on for years. Believe it or not many of us do not call on "the State" every time we have a problem and we try and sort issues out ourselves as mostly we can do a better job. Where is the harm in letting us do more? I considered volunteering as an exhibition assistant in the area I live in on the days I do not work and I was faced with an eight page application form, request for references, crb information requested and pages of equality and diversity questions. Needless to say I have decided not to bother as it is all just too intrusive. If the beurocracy and lack of trust in ordinary people can be addressed then this stands a chance of being successful regardless of the critics on this blog.

  • Comment number 43.

    Oh dear oh dear, Dave just does not get it. Like Blair (on Iraq), like Thatcher (on Poll tax) he is just not listening. We do not want your Big Society, it is totally Scotch Mist. If we want to volunteer to do good then we will of our own volition, not because we are told to. The vast majority of the contributions to local society are made by normal working people and certainly not by the multi millionaires and their ilk in your Cabinet. Give the whole idea up and concentrate on getting growth into the economy and maybe, just maybe,you can reduce the damage the cuts your Government is doing to the voluntary sector.

  • Comment number 44.

    I can't think of anyone at the general election who voted for The Big Society, since nobody including, I suspect, David Cameron, even knew what it was. As things start to be revealed, to my mind, and looking at the Big Picture of the Big Society, it's all beginning to look a bit sinister.

    Nothing in Cameron's plans appear to have any tangible substance, but there are a couple of common themes, and they are that government seeks to take less and less 'social responsibility' and also to 'pay less' towards social support costs. Both themes are worrying, since, with the increase in the elderly population we can expect less assistance both financially and by way of social back-up, which means that families will have to shoulder more and more burden, at a time when both their finances and time will be at a premium.

    In reality, The Big Society, is nothing more than a Conservative plan to impose social engineering on a scale not seen since the Thatcher era, and social engineering that will inevitable widen the gap between rich and poor, by taking away the official support mechanisms that have given less well-off families some rights, and expecting charitable organisations, which could be cash-strapped and will invariably be more selective about the services they provide, to take up the slack. I don't think anyone who voted at the last election signed up for this, and there was nothing in the Conservative manifesto telling us what TBS was anyway, since they didn't themselves know. They are making this up as they go along.

    TBS now, is being used as nothing more than an excuse for government to save money, and long term, take less social responsibility. But with all these savings, can we expect to pay less tax? Not a chance!

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    Personally, I've always found it rather agreeable in north London, Hampstead's a delightful place; still, takes all sorts, I suppose. Whatever Cameron claims to be, he is implementing ultra-Thatcherite policies. And how can one even think of the idea of some 'society' to which we all belong in so tribally-divided a nation as England? (Scotland and Wales are different, rather more civilised places.) Cameron belongs to a patriciate that would have very little cultural connection with the long-term unemployed on a sink estate in the West Midlands. Do the snarling leftist intellectuals who infest the rabid sinks of festering communism that are our universities subscribe to the same values as decent Daily-Mail reading folk in the leafy suburbs of Surrey? Or even support the same football teams?

    By the way, the BBC isn't that bad for a few pounds a week. Or it's not if you listen to the radio, where dispassionate intelligence seems still to reside. And, you genial right-wingers, we filthy lefties find that its views are far too uncritical of the right. Could it be that it actually is stumbling along on the middle ground?

  • Comment number 47.

    "Now, people that say 'oh, that's naive' I don't care" - Cam

    We're not saying it's naive. Quite the opposite. We're saying it's cynical.

  • Comment number 48.

    Why does this Fubar character write so many blogs full of bitterness. Is he an unhappy Fooh-Bear. We should be told why he loves Cameron so; its quite unnatural!

  • Comment number 49.

    I fear that the government's pursuit of big society could, ultimately, be as ineffective - and perhaps even as counter-productive - as John Major's somewhat anachronistic (even then) notion of 'Back to Basics'. As with that earlier Conservative regime, adopting a primarily a moralistic stance and expecting the nation to behave in a certain way will not work. For one thing, our society is founded on individualist, rather than collectivist principles. Not only this, but the government is sending out mixed messages about the moralistic principles it wishes to advocate - they are saying, well, it is completely right to cut benefits to the poorest people in society, but we do expect others to pick up the pieces. I will be interested to see how much mileage there will be in this vision.

  • Comment number 50.

    "I am different to Margaret Thatcher, different to past Conservative governments........."
    Maybe Nick Robinson misheard. Maybe he said "I am indifferent to Margaret Thatcher, indifferent to past Conservative governments" - At least, that would be correct grammar.
    Cameron should Write 1000 lines - "It is different from, not different to." Handwriting only. Keyboard plus cut & paste is forbidden.

    Gallech wneud i fyny. (Welsh for "You could make it up.")

  • Comment number 51.

    10 Susan

    I can sort of see where you are coming from. I would like to live in a society where people were generous, could see the needs of others and are prepared to do something about it. But we don't - well not to the extent needed.

    The local night shelter for the homeless has many volunteers, a couple of full time workers, a building to run and food to buy. They charge people to stay there, but if they are on IS they can't afford much. The Council pays a lot of the running costs probably because it stops people from sleeping on the streets with associated crime and they get many of their clients back on their feet. It is a CHARITY. People raise what they can, but it isn't enough they need the Council's help. It would take an enormous amount of effort to raise the funds needed. And that is one charity. Would charities that help the aged, provide guidance to families in difficulties all have to go round raising money? My letter box would be soon blocked with letters asking for help. Do I help the homeless or do I help the Citizens' Advice Bureau or do I give lots of little bits because I am concerned about so many things? And what a waste of effort - all those people fund raising for small amounts of money and fighting over what individuals give. How do you cope with the sort of problem there is in health charities? The principal Heart and Cancer Charities are doing excellent work, but other charities really struggle, because they find it hard to get noticed. This would happen everywhere - a well organised (in fund raising terms) hospice vs a less well organised stroke after care service. It isn't the people doing the charitable work who would suffer, it would be their clients.

    Yes, I would have the choice and that IS important. I think you have read too much about some minorities' origami group receiving grants and not enough about those charities which help those who have fallen on hard times. In a pure way you are not wrong, but you have over simplified the problem. David Cameron at least understands the problem which is why his position seems vague. He has proposed an idea, the solution should come from us.

  • Comment number 52.


    #36

    Is this a play on words:

    'miners'

    Surely you mean minors?

  • Comment number 53.

    Fubar writes "a charity that depends on the public purse for funding isn't a charity". Does he mean like Eton? Surely every charity that does not have to pay tax is is in reality living off the public purse. If I do not pay my tax and you do I am living off you no? More importantly is not Cameron and his millionaire front bench living off the public purse? Bit ironic they are telling everyone else they should not rely on the state when they themselves do. Is this hypocrisy or what? After all they do not need to take money from the state. Or is there one rule for them and another for everyone else? Smacks a bit of hypocrisy no?

  • Comment number 54.

    No38 RockingRobin,
    I am beginning to feel sorry for RockingRobin, the Toytown Tory political philosopher.
    He clearly thinks 'power'rests in Westminster,how naive.

  • Comment number 55.

    38. At 4:35pm on 14 Feb 2011, rockRobin7 wrote:
    whereas under Blair and Brown we had eight million 'economically inactive' with 2.5 million claiming incapacity benefits.
    ======================

    I thought the number of unemployed was going UP under the policies of your tory chums?

    I'm still waiting for all these dole dependent types to rush out and get jobs. Likewise I'm still waiting for the 'private sector' to come to our rescue with millions of jobs.

    But during the wait - don't expect me to be doing other people's jobs for free ... I can recognise BS (big society) when I see it.


  • Comment number 56.

    Surely if the Tory policies are all about putting power back to the local level then this implies encouraging councils, which after all are our lowest level of accountable politics/public service.

    Why then the contradictory policies of encouraging councils to effectively merge on various things (looks a lot like centralisation) and to blame the application of financial cuts on councils making the wrong choices? The sight of Tory ministers claiming that certain councils are being political when they choose to shut libraries or remove a care service is amazing in its sheer audacity.

    As always with this government so far there is too much cake and eat it in their approach. Pickles has delivered his policy to the councils - he should have the good grace to allow them to implement as they see fit locally. After all, its all about putting the power back into the hands of the people at the local level.

  • Comment number 57.

    40. At 4:38pm on 14 Feb 2011, johnharris66 wrote:
    #20 jon112uk wrote:
    "Under thatcher we had thousands of miners and steel workers put out of decent, hard work"

    Yes, producing goods at prices that the customer refused to pay.
    ======================

    Bit like now then.

    Just like I ask rockyrobin - when are your chums in the 'private sector' coming to the rescue?

    You'll excuse me if I laugh at the idea of bloated british businessmen with their 'I left school at 15 and it never urt me' skill levels competing with countries like china.

    Going to undercut them on price are they? Ho, ho, ho.

  • Comment number 58.

    skol 45

    How did you get that past the moderators?

    Respect.

  • Comment number 59.

    33. Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    10. At 3:35pm on 14 Feb 2011, Susan-Croft wrote:

    Something seems to be going wrong here with the concept of the Big Society. Government supports Charities with money far too much already, a movement away from this would be a good idea.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Indeed. A charity that depends on the public purse for funding isnt a charity.
    Its a quango.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    All of which leads me to believe that Davy’s only rebranding a concept that’s been with us for many years.
    Yes, it’s surprising just how many charities already help out with public services as it is, & that’s before BS; trouble is I can’t see this continuing if their budgets are cut.

    Davy just doesn’t get it; Big Society’s been with the mortals for years, but his life has been so sheltered he seems to think it’s a new concept invented by his chums.

    Perhaps we should have got a PM with a little more life experience behind him – Dave sounds more patronising & removed from the real world every time I hear him.

  • Comment number 60.

    At 4:17pm on 14 Feb 2011, rockRobin7 wrote:
    pdavies...

    'the unthinking right'... are they the nemesis of the 'deficit denying left'???

    it's grim up north London...
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    A refreshingly short contribution from you. Not sure what you mean though. Never met a 'deficit denier' left, right or centre. The deficit is there whether anyone likes it or not. How do you deal with it? That's the question.
    Perhaps we could reformulate;
    'the unthinking right'... are they the nemesis of the 'clear thinking, progressive left'???


  • Comment number 61.

    Ah yes... the 2015 election and 'clearing up newlabour's mess'...

    That's an easy one...

    newlabour wanted to leave the mess for another time and they still do.

    So more importantly what will the labour party line be? puit us back in to clear up the mess the tories couldn't? Make even more mess? Why do the lefties never think these things through; they are the self appointed 'intelligentsia'.. if the tories can't sort out newlabour's mess in five years, how can newlabour be trusted to sort out their own stinking pile?

    it's grim up north London.. (where the ideas are old and the options are restricted)

  • Comment number 62.

    I genuinely hope that David Cameron is a different conservative prime minister to the ones I have seen in the past, but the evidence at present does not support this.

    The Big Society has fine words, but it is easy to see how people, who even believe in the rhetoric are cynical when they see so much damage in their communities. It is the deeds we will judge the government on, not just it's high minded speeches and strap lines.

    http://extranea.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/the-big-society-the-cameron-relaunch/

  • Comment number 63.

    Big Society was a sound bite dreamt up by his PR men during the election campaign. You expect that sort of nonsensical rhetoric during campaigns, but no-one expected him to actually take it seriously and declare it as government policy. Cameron is isolated on this one and he has made a serious error to declare this meaningless slogan as his 'mission'.

    We all know it is solely a cover for cuts and for him to deny this just makes him look foolish.

  • Comment number 64.

    Big Society???
    Theresa may, Eric Pickles and Michael gove have all been found to have acted unlawfully in pursuit of Tory policies.
    we have a daily announcement from the government saying "ah yes we found another £100m down the back of the treasury sofa so there will be some debt advisers after all. or maybe we were a bit hasty in trashing school sport given we host the olympics next year, hold on whats this down the back of the treasury sofa???.
    there has to be a total lack of talent and ability within the government to get so much of normal proceedure and planning so wrong, so quickly. and DC's tital commitment to the £100m Big Society compared to his lack of commitment to the £12bn the defence cuts have so far COST! again highlights they are so far out of their depth.....
    how can you have a strategic defence review that ends up costing £12bn to implement???

  • Comment number 65.

    No40johnharris,
    The price of coal had nothing to do with the Tories using the full apparatus of the state to destroy mining communities. The conspiracy between the Thatcher government, forces of law and order and the judiciary was intended to destroy the power of the NUM and was part of their plan to rob the people of public assets with their privatisation programme.
    In reference to an earlier blog, and with the greatest respect, I think Galbraith knows a lot more about the bankers role in the two major world economic upheavals than yourself.

  • Comment number 66.

    #247 (from the previous blog) Sagamix wrote:

    "She meant what she said and she said what she meant.

    "There's no such thing as Society!"

    And it's the most utter codswallop."

    In the context of the political debate at the time, and as I remember it, I think Thatcher was arguing against the idea that all social ills were the fault of society, i.e. an abstraction over and above the individuals and families that comprise it.

    The left quote the first sentence, the one everyone remembers, because it is taken to mean that Thatcher was stating that everyone acts alone and in their own self-interest. I quote the next sentence (and refer people to the whole article in 'Woman's Own') because it is quite clear that Thatcher was talking about social responsibility and not arguing for a rugged (or ragged) individualism.

    For conceptual reasons, I don't agree with the extended quote, or the article as a whole. Indeed, I would argue that the article is self-contradictory, and that the body of her argument actually demonstrates that is such a thing as society, despite her opening remark to the contrary.

    But nor do I agree with the political interpretation that the left put on her words. If there is codswallop then it lies in most of the left's simple-minded reaction to it.

    There has always been a social side of Conservatism.

  • Comment number 67.

    The novelist Joseph Conrad was particularly struck with the idea that people only really get to know themselves, others and their interconnectedness when working together on a common task. This, for me, highlights one of the problems facing the Big Society notion.

    Just a century or so ago most people resided and laboured in small towns and villages. People worked and lived together and all these nebulous things that attempt to define the Big Society existed then as a consequence of this spatial organization. Today, of course, it is still true that people get to know themselves and others through their work - after all, most people spend more time with their work colleagues than their own families and home communities.

    That last bit is key to the geographical problem facing this Big Society idea for today. Large numbers of people now face a long journey to and from work. In any particular neighbourhood, few will work for the same employer. This means the community that people know from work is geographically dispersed outside of work. The one they live in is increasingly anonymous and, given that after a long day at the office, shop, factory or whatever, followed by a tedious commute home in traffic or on the train, the most that many can muster, when home at last, is to fall asleep in front of the TV.

    Which all suggests that the Big Society would stand a better chance of being meaningful if, at some time in the future, our society dispersed back to being largely small towns and villages with people living and working in the same locality...Bells across the meadow, the distant whack of willow hitting leather, morris dancers on the village green and the spirit of ye olde merrie England abides.

  • Comment number 68.

    "everyone in the end will blame the government for the cuts" - Cam

    Yes I think so. And how refreshing to see the PM drop the tired and super-stupid "clearing up Labour's mess" mantra. Maybe he's just leaving that to the troops, but still.

    Nice one, Cam.

  • Comment number 69.

    As stated by Phillip Blond, one of the architects of the Big Society ('The Observer' 3rd October 2010):

    "The failed left/right orthodoxies of the 1980s bequeathed us a broken society and economy. Both the market-driven right and the statist left conspired in concentrating wealth and abandoning a balanced economy. They both allowed the state, under free-market guise, to sanction monopoly dominance of our economy. The rise of vested interest and the concentration of economic power in the city created an economy based on asset bubbles and debt leverage.

    At its best, the "big society" is the answer to most of these ills. It is about breaking up the concentration of power in the state and in the economy – it is a distribution and dispersal of capital and capacity throughout our society, so as to create multiple centres of wealth, innovation and ownership. For the public sector – it is about addressing state failure via a revival of our civil society through a radical decentralisation of budgets and power to our localities and communities."

    There a few independent commentators on the left that have not been as dimissive as most of the bloggers on this site.

  • Comment number 70.

    I don't really understand what Thatcher has to do with what is happening just now. Other than she took over a Country in crisis as well. She was a successful PM as was Blair. I see very little difference between them to be honest. Both when in office developed tunnel vision and could not see the wider picture. Both lacked empathy for other Human Beings. Strong people like this, are the sort that the British admire, otherwise they would not vote them in. Decisive Government has always been the preferred option of the British.

    Cameron is a totally different breed to these two leaders. He actually falls between two stools. He is neither true Conservative or Socialist. This could be his undoing, as it is decisive Government which Britain needs. Someone with a proper vision is needed now, of what Britain will look like after all this Government action, Cameron seems unable to provide this. Both Thatcher and Blair had this vision, however in Blairs case he was mostly unable to carry out his ideas because of restrictions due to Brown and some of his party. Thatcher did manage to transform Britain in many ways, most of which was undone by the following Labour Government.

    Cameron also has the weight of the dreadful Lib/Dems to carry on his back in Government, this is something I am pretty certain Thatcher and Blair would not have tolerated. Britain is in fact, seeing many more Lib/Dem policies than Conservative. The result is a strange mix of policies, which is not really pleasing anyone and lacks direction.



  • Comment number 71.

    He must be off his rocker.
    Quick – send for an ambulance, while we still have them.

  • Comment number 72.

    The stated priorities of the Big Society are:

    1. Give communities more powers (localism and devolution)
    2. Encourage people to take an active role in their communities (volunteerism)
    3. Transfer power from central to local government
    4. Support co-ops, mutuals, charities and social enterprises
    5. Publish government data (open/transparent government)

    Nothing much to argue about there, brilliant ideas ... in theory.

    Except that 'Big Society' is a terrible name, and far too close for comfort to 'Big Brother' for this Englishmans liking.

    Fundamentally, this the curse of the 'political wonks' - a branding issue.

  • Comment number 73.


    Are we seeing "Government backed People Power" or a disgraceful "Abuse of Power by the few in Power" ?

    Ask yourself if you've had any say in i) how swinging budget cuts are introduced, ii) how tax hikes are implemented (e.g. VAT targeted at the poor), iii) if massive tax cuts should be quietly be given to the ultra-rich Tory backers (bankers and those in tax-havens*), and iv) if our previous forests should be sold off ...?

    IMHO "People Power" will eventually arrive, but to counter the "Abuse of Power" we are currently witnessing! However what we are also seeing is this Government smokescreen being blown away. What they are trying to do is to devolve responsibility and deflect blame for the cuts onto others (e.g. a great article on this is http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/11/defence-brutal-cuts-attack-lies-blame%29 ... and put responsibility on communities for picking up the pieces (via volunteering - or perhaps by compulsion in the future with future welfare reform)!

    It is important to note that this Government is also trying to force through NHS reforms, that also 'devolve the axe and deflect blame' onto doctors for the planned £20bn p.a. of efficiency savings ... and 'buying their slience and support' by bribing them for cutting the healthcare they provide to you (e.g. with lucrative contracts and bonuses) ... again without any consultation or support from the electorate (as this radical change was in neither of the Coalition's election manifestos). Take a look at http://poweromics.blogspot.com/2011/01/nhs-reforms-patient-choice-or-doctors.html for instance.

    Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, has also been accused of an 'abuse of power' by a high court judge for scrapping the Building Schools for the Future programme without proper consultation and consideration .... take a look at http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/feb/11/gove-school-building-court for instance.

    You can also take a look at http://poweromics.blogspot.com for more abuses of Power too. IMHO Ignorance and Apathy are endemic, but both will reduce as people's lives get far worse ... which they will given current plans!

    Roll-on real "People Power"!


    * An excellent post http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/07/tax-city-heist-of-century by George Monbiot in the Guardian exposed this one! Contrast this with the spin from David Cameron ... who tells us he can't afford tax cuts! ... I'm afraid all we have here is more lies, deceit and hypocrisy.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    from prev blog. 63. johnharris66 wrote:
    #7 sturdyblog

    Monbiot's article was nonsense.
    ------------------------------
    Amazing John. Ive spent hours trying to find someone in the media or from a political party or who works in tax law who can dismantle or properly critique Monbiots article. Of course I have found nothing that seriously argues or proves wrong the facts of his article. Simple as that.

  • Comment number 76.

    Having seen an example of Big Society working (local library in Little Chalfont) at first hand I simply cannot envisage it working in say in a rundown council estate. For it to work, it necessitates strong community spirit and pride in where you live.

    Unfortunately our society is fractured which is why the state does support the neediest and poorest. Most of the staff at the are retired and all are volunteers, so have time on their hands and do not need extra income. The hours are reduced compared to the council run libraries but this also reflects what the community wants.

    I'd say that Cameron's weakness on this is perhaps he sees only the good in people and not the reality of this sometimes cruel world.

  • Comment number 77.

    Boilerbill 51

    That was not really the point I was making actually. I am merely pointing out that if you exchange one Government support for another, that is not Big Society that is Big Government and cannot be afforded at this time. That would make it a socialist model and continuation of Big state Government.

    The Big Society is supposed to Liberate people from the shackles of the State. When you just change one reliance to another nothing will change.

    I did make the point that many charities do waste vast amounts of money on administration, they do not work smart if you like. Others, to be honest, are not very worthy in anyway.

  • Comment number 78.

    The financial manoeuvring by the Coalition Government with the banks, including this small-scale Big Society, radiates a certain contempt towards working people who pay taxes.
    First came Project Merlin. The banks would make available some £190B to small businesses and provide an additional £200M to the government’s Big Society Bank, aimed at making public servants of the ordinary citizen.
    In addition, it was agreed that cash bonuses at banks bailed out by the government would be limited to £2,000 and that they would publish the pay of their five highest-earning individuals. This is so naive, it makes me smile. When is a bonus not a bonus? When you call it something else: It's as simple as that!
    In order to finance this bailout, The Coalition Government is imposing severe austerity measures; in the last few weeks local authorities have stated that they are closing libraries, swimming pools and other facilities and are laying off thousands of workers. What will happen to these services. Well, if the public really wants them, they can set up and run them for the community; that is, The Coalition Government expects at least some of them will be picked up the Big Society with its little budget.
    Chancellor George Osborne: “Britain needs to move from retribution to recovery.” If he thinks Big Society will close th gap between laid off public servants and community needs, he himself has failed to move to "recovery" and is stuck on "retribution".
    The banks have won the day - again. The figure on lending to small business is not mandatory; the banks will face no penalty, no fine. The banks of course are all good fellows and will carry out their agreements.
    As for pay, the government, disclosure would apply only to those reporting to the CEO, exempting the traders who are often the biggest earners. Whose concession was this if not The Coalition Government?
    RBS and Barclays, which have big investment banking divisions, fear that disclosure of traders’ pay would lead to vilification of these individuals and make their lives more difficult while they are trying to earn their billions.
    Project Merlin was followed quickly by the CEOs at Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds (bailed out) stating that they were going to take their bonuses.
    - Stephen Hester, chief executive of RBS, £2.04 million, and
    - the outgoing chief executive at Lloyds, Eric Daniels, £1.45 million
    in STOCKS. Among them, the bonus pool at Britain’s 4 biggest banks: Barclays, RBS, HSBC and Lloyd = £5B in bonuses. In contrast, The Big Society will begin with (Are you ready?) 200M. That's million not billion.
    In an effort to deflect criticism, Osborne announced separately that a government levy on the banks would be raised by £800M this year. Just to compare: This is about a fifth of the money that will be paid by taxpayers as part of the coalition’s VAT increase. i.e. The taxpayer remains the scapegoat.
    Meanwhile, the Government is slashing taxation of the corporations. Tax laws are being changed to enable multinational corporations and banks to significantly cut the tax they currently pay on their overseas subs. If these proposals go ahead, the UK will be only the second country in the world to allow money that has passed through tax HAVENS to remain untaxed when it gets to the UK. The other country is Switzerland.
    Now here's the real dig: The exemption applies solely to large and medium companies; IT IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR SMALL COMPANIES.
    The treatment of the banks, including this new little bank called the Big Society, shows that Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim that “we are all in it together” is a joke.
    "We are all in this together" really means all the taxpayers are in this together, and with the Big Society "we" will all be in it together even deeper.

  • Comment number 79.

    jh66 @ 69

    Don't think I've heard David Cameron explain it in anything like those terms. Guess it could be he's wary of railing against the "failed orthodoxies of the 1980s"; being code for bashing the person who was PM for the whole of that time - Margaret Thatcher.

  • Comment number 80.

    What about tackling tax avoidance, rather than government ministers doing it themselves and making it easier for others?

    http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/osborne-pay-your-taxes

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/07/tax-city-heist-of-century

    And, as a bonus, this one:

    http://www.neweconomics.org/press-releases/are-british-banks-getting-billions-in-hidden-subsidies-asks-nef

    My definition of a big society would include "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs". I wonder what DC would think about that? ;-D

  • Comment number 81.

    Look I think we need to be fair. David has hit on a pretty interesting idea whcih could be agenda setting for a generation.

    The problems is while David is not a bad front man he is no Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair. He wants to be but he just hasn't got it.

  • Comment number 82.

    rockRobin7
    Is there any particular reason why you keep repeating the same phrase? Does it have some hidden significance or are you just rather stupid?

  • Comment number 83.

    David Cameron certainly isn't like Margaret Thatcher. When I heard him say in your interview, and I quote your quote Nick,...

    "Now, people that say 'oh, that's naive' I don't care, that's what I think, that's what I think government ought to be doing, and it's what my government is going to do."

    ...my blood boiled and he actually reminded more of Gordon Brown.

    As for the Big Society idea, I will buy into it seriously and wholeheaartedly, when I see a significant reduction in my Council Tax. If I'm getting the saving, I'll put some of my precious time into the project...

  • Comment number 84.

    47 Saga

    Enough of being cynical.

    We should all take this opportunity of enbracing the BS for all it's worth and join forces to be part of the BS. Sort of one of the moments when future generations will ask "where you when the BS broke out" and we can all day that "we had to que to sign up...I was only 16 but looked 18" that sort of thing. Years later I can see the future Ricard Curtis and Ben Elton writing a script in recognition of our heroic efforts. Yes, enough of being cynical our Country Needs You and go forth and find those weapons of mass destruction. Look out her comes Vera Lynn and her backing group the Pussycat Dolls..."There'll be Blue Birds...".


    Back in the real world, I'm just pleased that this was not a Lib/Dem policy. Apparently, according to the latest opinion polls there are only 17 of us left on the whole Country and this policy would have done us no good whatsoever.

  • Comment number 85.

    "Well I just, I am, I mean, I am different to Margaret Thatcher…”

    I agree DC, and that's the problem.

    If there was ever a time (other than 1979 of course) that the UK required clear and firm leadership, it is now.

    Rather than trying to ‘coo’ disappointed lefties, which is a complete waste of time, Cameron should be targeting the politically disaffected - The people who are sick and tired of politicians trying to be all things to all men. When Thatcher was in office, you didn't have to guess what she stood for, it was obvious, and you got exactly what it said on the tin. Cameron would command far more support and respect, if he dropped this ludicrous ‘sloganising’ and started leading with ‘real’ conviction.

    Leading, as in making sure that spending cuts actually occur where they need to occur, and that areas that shouldn’t be cut are not cut, just to placate critics. (for example)

  • Comment number 86.

    66 @ 66

    But don't you agree with what I say she was driving at? - that she had zero patience with the tendency of the Left (as she saw it) to over-intellectualise, lose the micro in the macro, to favour a deterministic view of life chances, to blame "society" for the shortcomings and disappointments of individuals. Her "Society? There is no such thing!" is the authentic - exasperated - expression of this. The rest of the quote just muddies the waters.

  • Comment number 87.

    TGR Worzel 83

    That is exactly my point, he says that is what Government should be doing. Government intervention is big state which is socialist.

    That is not the definition of Big Society is it?

  • Comment number 88.

    susan croft 70

    I'd say Cameron has quite a bit in common with Maggie, not least a willingness to take (very) unpopular measures to get the country back on its feet. I suspect Blair COULD have implemented many of the reforms be wanted to introduce but didn't do so because he wanted to please everyone. I agree there's a strange mix of policies but can't see how this can be avoided altogether given the electoral arithmetic.

    The true test of Cameron will be if he stays the course in the areas that really matter, foremost of which is tackling the deficit. If he can achieve that then I suspect he'll also able to achieve many of the things dear to Conservatives such as letting people keep more of their hard earned money.

  • Comment number 89.

    There's nothing new about the Big society:

    Here's a few lines from a song by Leon Rosselson from a tape recording I have of the LSE occupation in 1968:

    I am a Tory lady, sir, of gentle disposition;
    I go to church on Sunday, sir, and feel it is my mission
    To educate the masses in the art of gentle living,
    By teaching them to follow the example I am giving.
    I donate to worthy charities, and treat my neighbours kindly;
    I never use a vulgar word, and always speak refinedly;
    But the mob, sir, who rob, sir,
    The hooligans and teddy-boys,
    The flick-knives-at-the-ready boys,
    The one who never do a decent job, sir …

    H – A – N – G – O …

    Hang ‘em and flog ‘em and strap ‘em and thrash ‘em
    Until their bottoms hum, sir, …
    For justice must be done, sir!

    I'd love to quote the whole song, but no doubt that falls foul of posting copyright material, but Leon's song goes on to say:

    "with noble knights to lead us
    and ex-Scotland Yard Inspectors,
    and rows and rows of debutanes and company directors.
    Society must be protect from the cimes of thugs sir,
    especially my poodle, my husband and my pug sir!"

    Just the sort of people we will see leading Cameron's Big Society...

  • Comment number 90.

    Lefty11 75

    ' Ive spent hours trying to find someone in the media or from a political party or who works in tax law who can dismantle or properly critique Monbiots article.'

    If you look hard enough through the comments responding to the article you'll find plenty that do just that. Try thinking about it for one minute. If it's such a big deal why on earth aren't New Labour making an issue of it. Do you think there's some conspiracy here involving all the main parties plus the BBC ?

    The article is just fodder for left wing loons and conspiracy nuts such as yourself.

  • Comment number 91.

    Can anyone please enlighten me as to how Big Society changes anything or introduces something that wasn't already happening??

    Please someone must know, though listening to Cameron he doesn't.

    One often quoted example is that LOcals can take over and run a closing post office!!! But they already could and did in a village 5 miles from where I live (along with the local shop).

    Local voluntary organisations can deliver certain Social Care Services...They already do!

    My local PTFA work with our local school, improve the grounds, raise money..they did before they still can?

    Everyone surely knows, even those pro Tories that this is a white elephant.

    Strangely I think Cameron is sincere in his beliefs (for once) sincere but delusional. I do agree though that there is an element of trying to take credit for something that already happens, any example of "community action" in the future will be trumpeted as success for the Big Society even though it would have happened anyway.

    Second plea, if anyone can let me know if they feel it will ADD something, I am intrigued!

  • Comment number 92.

    #78 bluesberry wrote:
    "Now here's the real dig: The exemption applies solely to large and medium companies; IT IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR SMALL COMPANIES."

    (taxation of foreign branches)

    The UK Treasury is currently consulting on the proposals. Taking this point, there are very few small companies that have foreign branches for legitimate trading reasons. See question 3.24 on the Treasury consultation document available from the UK Treasury.

    This is a very small practical point anyway, and hardly merits the capital letters you have given it.

  • Comment number 93.

    sagamix 79

    'Guess it could be he's wary of railing against the "failed orthodoxies of the 1980s"; being code for bashing the person who was PM for the whole of that time - Margaret Thatcher'

    Hardly, that's exactly what he wants to do, albeit in a less overt way.

    I don't see it does Cameron any harm being seen to be passionate about society and civic duty. Probably doesn't do him much harm being attacked by a bunch of cynics either.

  • Comment number 94.

    Never cease to be amazed at the naivete or plain disingenuousness of Tory posters. "Big Society" is typical vacuous Cameron waffle, designed to disguise the reality of vicious cuts in public spending. Tories always want to shrink the state and Dave and George are revelling in the opportunity that the cover their footman Clegg is providing gives them. Fortunately the public are beginning to wise up to their constant, ludicrous refrain of "it's all Labour's fault".

  • Comment number 95.

    He's right about councils sharing chief executives. In fact, why don't they really go for it and share one chief executive between all local authorities? That should save us a fortune. Oh, wait a minute, would that be big government? Is there a point on the scale where things stop being local and become central?

    And am I alone in being confused about 'free schools'? When local decision-making is the order of the day, the 'free schools' will be reporting direct to Mr Gove and not to a local authority. Free from one set of shackles but bound to another, central set?

    Is it any wonder that no-one understands any of it means?

  • Comment number 96.

    No80 Sasha,
    Will you join me in betting that the drug dealers,mobsters, tax evaders,tyrants and a host of other crooks and thieves operating in the City and depositing 'hot and dirty' money into the Tories paymasters coffers will be fighting hard to play their part in the 'Big Con-trick'

  • Comment number 97.

    70 Susan.

    What do you mean DC has taken over ''a country in crisis?'' ?

    Big bonuses, no more windfall taxes. Hurrah for DC's Building Society,
    (well, its offshore branch) where I'm gonna stash it.


  • Comment number 98.

    I'm not sure how giving yet more powers to local authorities to ride roughshod over local residents wishes on planning issues equates with a Big Society...

    I'm not sure how forcing patients to call a National Call Centre to book a doctor's appointment instead of contacting their local surgery counts as 'localism'...

    I don't understand how allowing councils to sack librarians while recruiting more traffic wardens benefits society.

    No I don't want Cameron to explain, or to hear any more about his 'passionate defence' of an incomprehensible policy.

    He is just making himself look even more out of touch and foolish. He should stop flogging this dead horse.

  • Comment number 99.

    What worries me about these blogs is how many people see the world from such a partial viewpoint that they cannot see anything worth while that "the other side" does. While I think the Big Society has some good ideas behind it - & many people have been doing what it describes for years - under governments of both main parties - it strikes me as badly timed when cuts in public sector spending are so large and still ill-defined. It's almost defined by what it isn't than what it is - but exercises in the civil service to re-brand existing programmes as Big Society fuel cynicism. But at the same time it's worth remembering (a) that a high proportiuon of the deficit was caused by the global recession which hit UK tax receipts. (b)UK public spending was substantially a response to 18 years of massive underinvestment in schools, hospitals, etc. We now have a brand new hospital in our area, replacing a Victorian one.(c) cuts are supposed to bring public spending back to 2006 levels - so why are services which were being provided then now being axed? The world is a complicated place & it's rare that things are black and white, yet so many people insist on seeing things in those terms.
    It must be grim in rockRobin7's little nest!

  • Comment number 100.

    The Councils are having to save money but Nick are you aware that people like myself are putting a burden on the Government/Councils. Since the Government advised the new legislation for the retirement age for September 2011, many companies are shedding staff 65 plus before September. We are now having to ask for pension credits, housing benefit and/or council tax benefit. I have always been a saver and now find my savings dwindling because no-one wants to employ me. My savings were for when I wanted to finish work and NOT be a burden on anybody. It would be interesting to know just how many people are affected.

 

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