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Is Cameron's Big Society in trouble?

Nick Robinson | 16:16 UK time, Thursday, 3 February 2011

Saving the Big Society will have to be high on the agenda of David Cameron's new message messenger Craig Oliver.

Municipal Buildings in Liverpool

When the idea was unveiled it was greeted with indifference by many who couldn't tell what it meant. Ridicule followed. Now the danger is that anger will come next.

The reason is the tension between the message of empowering people and voluntary organisations and the reality of spending cuts.

Liverpool City Council has withdrawn as one of four pilot schemes for the Big Society. A letter from the council leader declares:

"[W]e can no longer support big society as a direct consequence of your funding decisions"

More tellingly the council Leader Joe Anderson claims that:

"Your government promised to work with us to remove some of the problems and blockages that were preventing us from successfully delivering our Big Society programme. I have to say, the government has failed to deliver a single change that we have requested, which has severely hampered many parts of our programme."

Now Councillor Anderson is a Labour politician and Liverpool is not the whole of the country but his warning may be a sign of things to come.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    One of several problems that I have with it is that Big Society seems to mean different things to all the different agencies that might take advantage of it. And not enough has been explained to the people who would be required to make it work (us)for it to mean anything at all.

    I'm afraid that until the government itself agrees what Big Society means, to the rest of us it will remain... well, meaningless.

  • Comment number 2.

    Must admit that after the Blair/Campbell spin years, the phrase 'big society' just washed over this bloggger.

    Was the 'Big Society' ever clearly defined or does it remain some political wonks brainchild that is not really understandable by the rest of us?

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't even know whether the "Big Society" is supposed to be anything to do with my bit of the UK. When Cameron/Clegg and the other Tories talk about "the country" "this country", they usually just mean England (since that's the only part of the UK under their writ for much of domestic policy).

    I don't suppose anyone here knows either, and I do apologise if using the word "England" is considered ill-mannered in England, as your politicians seem to suggest it is.

  • Comment number 4.

    John Constable

    I'd be interested in your views on this

    http://www.betternation.org/

    which suggests that Question Time's London-centric stance is a problem.

  • Comment number 5.

    "LABOUR POLITICIAN OPPOSES COALITION POLICIES"

    Yes, I can see that such a headline could be seized upon by some as proof that the coalition's policies are failing.

    I mean, crickey, you'd have to be awfully cynical to thik that a Labour council might have some political agenda here. And clearly, Nick, you're not cynical.

    Maybe Mr Anderson is still grumpy about having to give up some pay? Labour politicians do seem anxious to get as much as possible.

    http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2010/06/30/row-continues-over-liverpool-council-leader-joe-anderson-s-pay-92534-26753543/

    What next, I wonder?

    "LIFE LONG LABOUR SUPPORTER VOWS NOT TO VOTE FOR CAMERON"?

  • Comment number 6.

    It strikes me that the "Big Society" is little more than a means of getting services carried out on the cheap by volunteers, while costing trained, experienced people their jobs

  • Comment number 7.

    The Big Problem with the "Big Society" as an idea is that it has been around for years in the voluntary sector. It is not new and therefore it is not even an idea! People who have the time and inclination to work in the voluntary sector for nothing already do and those that can't or won't will not start!

    I have run a Tennis Team for over 10 years and we struggle to persuade people to help run things which is to their benefit, it is that much harder to persuade people to work at things that is to others benefit and might actually be hard. I have a friend who works in Social Services and who recognises the part that the voluntary unpaid sector can do but he also points out that on the whole they unsurprisingly are willing to help out in the relatively "easy" areas and can't be forced to work in the harder areas like juvenile offenders and drug users. He makes no criticism of this and acknowledges the help but there are large areas where it doesn't work.

    On top of this most people of working age are in jobs that are increasingly pressurised, measured and insecure and genuinely don't have the energy for the "Big Society".


    It is clear that the Big Society is a sound bite to make the Tories look like nice people while they take the resources away from the professional sector which might make a difference. It is part of their small state agenda which is aimed at reducing the state sector to reduce taxes to the disadvantage of the poor, weak and needy. They should just be more honest and say it and let the electorate be the judge!

  • Comment number 8.

    Liverpool Council Leader Joe Anderson claims that:

    "Your government promised to .."

    Whoah, Joe stop right there.

    Mistake #1, believing something the Government 'promised' would actually happen.

    Usually, our experience is that Government is very poor on delivering its promises, for a whole bunch of reasons.

    I do not know the ins-and-outs of this particular case but one would have thought that the Government would make some effort to keep their promises in a place, namely Liverpool, where historically the Tories have'nt been too popular and also because Dave has raved about this thing called the big society.

    PS. As if they needed reminding, woe betide any politicians who 'cuts' libraries, which these days have often evolved in multi-purpose community centers. Some things are sacred, the community is sacred, we could call it the small society and it is what matters on the ground.

    Big Society sounds corporate, statist, impersonal, anonymous - no thanks.

  • Comment number 9.

    reincarnation @ 3

    I'd say Cameron's BS (most of it anyway) is very much meant for English consumption.

  • Comment number 10.

    PPS. This blogger is delighted to see that some Scots, presumably living in Scotland, have descended on Nick Robinsons blog to shake things up a bit and provide a Scottish perspective.

  • Comment number 11.

    The Big Society was and still is nothing more than a meaningless gimmick. In fact it was an attempt to abdicate responsibility for the services people rely on by placing an onus on charities etc but of course with the massive ideolgical cuts in funding this hasn't happened.The Big Society could turn out to be Cameron's cones hotline.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Big Society is a con. I work for a Tory-controlled council who are now attempting to rebrand absolutely anything as 'The Big Society'. So walking buses to school, neighbourhood watch, Scouts, home helps - you name it - are now all rebadged as 'The Big Society'.

    The fact is that 'The Big Society' are all things that people do anyway. I don't want the fact that I do some shopping for my elderly neighbour spun and branded for political expediency.

    The fact of the matter is that with massive reductions in funding for community groups, there is likely to be a lot less volunteering, not a lot more. Most of us are becoming financially poorer and will also have less time on our hands as we seek ways of to plug the gaps in our household finances.

    The Big Society will go the same way as The Big Conversation.

  • Comment number 13.

    outrage @ 148

    No, guess not. I'd quite like to see some name-changes for our main parties though, think the time is right for this. Overdue really. I've always been jealous of all those other European countries, for example, which have "Free Democrats" and "Progressive Alliance" and "Radical Front" ... exciting sounding organisations like that.

  • Comment number 14.

    That's exactly the worry I have, Whinchaker (6).

  • Comment number 15.

    As noted - it's Labour Liverpool, dey would sey dat wouldn't dey.

    However that said I cannot work out what on earth the Big Society is supposed to be or what the vision behind it actually is. It is all very nebulous and contradictory.

    Empowering people to help themselves sounds great, but it keeps getting mixed up with money. The types of things being dragged out are precisely the types of things which councils are finding they are having to make cuts to - e.g.funding to charities which already use volunteers to provide socially useful (and financially even if the common 1X spend here = 2X saving to other state costs down the line).
    It just needs more clarity and thought - it still appears something written on the back of a fag packet one wet weekend in Witney.

    However I do take issue with the first line of the blog - it is not for the new communications chief to save the Big Society nor decide what the priorities are, he is an unelected employee.
    The PM or politicians in the government we have elected have to make those decisions and make clear what the message they wish to promote is and the Comms director advises on the best way to get that message across and arranges it.

    It may suit the village to make the holders of this post into Campbell like figures because that was sensational - the infrequency of in context (as in this blog it is not justified) reporting of his name will be a measure of whether he does a good job or not.

  • Comment number 16.

    The ideas behind the Big Society have been around for a while and they seem to be useful. However labelling a package of this sort as "the Big Society" is meaningless & actually counter-intuitive (as it's actually about small things done locally by local people). It smacks of spin - which has, of course, never gone away - it's in every politician's DNA. It's also absolutely bonkers to try to introduce something like this at a time when you are making such severe cuts in public expenditure. the voluntary groups/charities/etc who you are expecting to take forward the "Big Society" are seeing their funding cut and can't take the strain. Moreover, it looks to many as though it's an attempt to get people to do for free what their local council previously supplied - and it's not as though taxes are being reduced to balance it. Perhaps Mr Oliver will give this a hard look & come up with some more realistic advice for the Coalition

  • Comment number 17.

    The Big Society slogan, unveiled just before the election seemed like a lightweight pithy political statement for the election campaign. Normally, any great philosophical idea on society takes years to develop with many essays and considerations of intent.

    If we cast our minds back to the 1990's, we had the "Active Citizen". I remember reading one essay by Douglas Hurd on this. There is barely a paper's width between the 2 ideas. Both involve - smaller state, personal responsibility, more role for charities etc.

    The Big Society is the same same ideas dressed up. The reality is voluntary organisations will be doing less in 2 years time than they are today as funding reduces and the public can give less. The Big Society is dead before it began.
    http://extranea.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 18.

    Big Society? More like Big Scam. How can you expect charities or communities to so to speak step up when they are having their funding savagely cut. It just does not make sense basic economics will tell you that. It may be a Labour council but lets face it there would be a crisis if Tory and Lib Dem councils started to abandon Big Society. I must admit it is a nice thought but as it always it with the Tories clearly just a front and spin campaign for savage cuts anywhere and everywhere with no forethought.

    I can only hope more councils and perk up the courage to denounce the cuts to perople's everyday services and ultimately expose the great scam.

  • Comment number 19.

    Can I write to Cameron and opt out of the Big Society as well?

  • Comment number 20.

    Of course nobody understands it. Thats the whole point.

  • Comment number 21.

    Looks like a further step towards the americanisation of our politics. People making decisions based on political lines rather than what is good for the country. Now i don't know if the 'big society' is a good idea or not, but why not give it a go? To use this a political tool is regressive.

  • Comment number 22.

    7. At 5:28pm on 03 Feb 2011, Spirit-of-56 wrote:

    It is clear that the Big Society is a sound bite to make the Tories look like nice people while they take the resources away from the professional sector which might make a difference. It is part of their small state agenda which is aimed at reducing the state sector to reduce taxes to the disadvantage of the poor, weak and needy. They should just be more honest and say it and let the electorate be the judge!
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I think it is more likely that it is Dave's idea to show that he has 'changed' the Conservative Party from the days of Mrs Thatcher's oft (mis)quoted phrase.

    I don't think Cameron is good on political strategy. To lumber yourself, early in a first term, with something so nebulous as 'Big Society' is asking for trouble. And mockery and lampooning. I think it also demonstrates a slight disconnectedness with what is going on in the real world of 9-5, or, more correctly these days 8-6, or 7 or 8.

    I think demonstrating togetherness with fiscal reform right at the start would be a much better approach to five years of Government. The other stuff can follow later, if it must.

    PS: Less services and tax reductions can actually help the poor and needy.

  • Comment number 23.

    13. At 5:43pm on 03 Feb 2011, sagamix wrote:
    I've always been jealous of all those other European countries, for example, which have "Free Democrats" and "Progressive Alliance" and "Radical Front" ... exciting sounding organisations like that.

    There's probably going to be a really terriffic opportunity for a lot of Lib Dems to snap up one of those names soon, I suspect. I hope they don't miss it. 'Radical Front' would obviously not be appropriate, but bearing in mind that true liberalism biodegraded a long time ago, I sometimes wonder what was wrong with 'Social Democrats'. Admittedly it's a bit vanilla, but I'd be surprised if that put them off.

  • Comment number 24.

    All this big society is the same old stuff from the thatcher years for any local group to get funding for their project they had to have "real people" from the community sitting on their committee I did this was part of many organizations on a voluntary basis we were supposed to get a say on how things were run but at the end of the day no matter what we decided the politicians just did whatever they wanted Cameron wants people to get involved really Mr Cameron I don't think so can you not get your own ideas are you just bringing back the Thatcher years and let me tell you they were not good
    dizzyizzy

  • Comment number 25.

    Big Society will fail. OK to say we should give support and power at the lowest level. That we all should help each other. But the government is cutting spending to local groups. Where there is a group helping for example youths to keep them off the streets, they suddenly find funding is cut. Groups who support disabled people, a good Big Society issue without doubt, also are finding their funding gets cut. So what does Big Society mean? Simple view so far is we want lots of people doing something to help each other, but we dont want to pay for it. No doubt Camerons new spin doctor will tell us we are all wrong and that nice Mr C is doing the right thing. Big Society!!!! Having a laugh.

  • Comment number 26.

    12. At 5:39pm on 03 Feb 2011, Bluebaldee wrote:
    The Big Society is a con. I work for a Tory-controlled council who are now attempting to rebrand absolutely anything as 'The Big Society'. So walking buses to school, neighbourhood watch, Scouts, home helps - you name it - are now all rebadged as 'The Big Society'.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    I hope they are not spending vast sums from your Council Tax on new stationery, signs on buildings and doors and advertising at roadsides, executive conferences and workshops, etc.

  • Comment number 27.

    The Big Society seems to be totally meaningless. Round here it can be interpreted as 'If you have the money, you can have it'. Frankly I think it just another spin slogan with no value.

  • Comment number 28.

    9. sagamix

    Any idea why he doesn't say so? (not the BS description obviously!)

    Why has "England" become a "Lord Alfred Douglas-ian" term

    I am the [geographical area] that dare not speak its name.

    Are you all like that down there? Do you all share some kind of "anti-glaucoma" - you can see the periphery but not what's centre-field?

  • Comment number 29.

    re #9
    Hey Saga, buddy! Is that the good ol' American BS, that your cousins talk about? Well! Dang shoot! A Limey PM saying that about his country, now. Well, I never ...

  • Comment number 30.

    6. At 5:28pm on 03 Feb 2011, Whinchacker wrote:
    It strikes me that the "Big Society" is little more than a means of getting services carried out on the cheap by volunteers, while costing trained, experienced people their jobs

    ===============================================================

    Yeah, it probably would mean that to you. If you extricated yourself from your sofa, put down the bag of Dorritos and thought about how local people doing things for and with their own local community, like what used to happen fifty or sixty years ago, before we lost all that and only gave a monkeys about ourselves, then it might start to make some sense.

    You might things like its just services being done on the cheap by volunteers, but thats just lazy, pathetic left wing propaganda swallowed up by the weak minded. Do you seriously think that those who provide your local council services are really the best that money can buy and that they've been retained to cater to your every whim?

    Incredibly naive, if so.

    Rather than that, most are just delivering what the council has contractually bound them to once they've bid lower than everyone else. They deliver what the council tells them. Not necessarily what YOU want.

    But then, if you're expecting Nanny State to do everything for you and that social responsibility and community is something that doesnt interest you.... then your reply isnt surprising.

    I'm not saying Big Society is a panacea. Its badly sold, means too many things to too many people and isnt clearly defined or financed yet. But, what you have come out with isnt what it is meant to be about either. Thats just scaremongering garbage.

  • Comment number 31.

    Big Society = Small Government i.e. cuts

    Fans of the first series of the West Wing will recognise this.

  • Comment number 32.

    22. Up2snuff
    "Less services and tax reductions can actually help the poor and needy."

    Of course. But that would mean less services for the rich and tax reductions for the poor.

    Are any of the UK parties (who actually control tax policy) suggesting the latter? I know UK Labour did for a bit, before they reverted to Tory type and dumped the 10% rate.

    Scots Labour are still on Tory message. They want to tax people instead of supermarkets.

  • Comment number 33.

    Like so many things that are really important (friendship, love, humour) the Big Society is hard to define - but we know it when we see it. It is an absolutely necessary process of re-balancing what the state does for us and what we do- together - for ourselves. It will take a long time and a great deal of work to bring this about, but no wonder since whole generations have now been brought up believing that somehow 'the state' will provide everything for them without any effort on their part (from someone else's taxes!). This has to change, but like all change it will be uncomfortable.

    Condemnation from the labour leader of Liverpool should be seen as evidence that they're doing something right!

  • Comment number 34.

    Oh and by the way Nick, so Scouser Labour politician defies the evil tory led Central Government?

    Big deal. Sounds like Derek Hatton.

    Fine. If thats how Liverpool wants it, then fine. Leave 'em to it. Let someone else take part in the pilot scheme. If its successful, maybe this particular politician may be left with egg on his face afterwards, for the sake of less than 24 hours of headlines. And the people of Liverpool may end up being worse off for not having tried it.

    Incidentally, what were the conditions Liverpool asked Central Government to fulfil before they took part? What were the pre-requisites?


    Anyone?

  • Comment number 35.

    On Wednesday, March 31 2010, David Cameron outlined his "Our 'Big Society' plan".
    He said
    "Big society - that's not just two words.

    It is a guiding philosophy - a society where the leading force for progress is social responsibility, not state control.

    It includes a whole set of unifying approaches - breaking state monopolies, allowing charities, social enterprises and companies to provide public services, devolving power down to neighbourhoods, making government more accountable.

    And it's the thread that runs consistently through our whole policy programme - our plans to reform public services, mend our broken society, and rebuild trust in politics.

    They are all part of our big society agenda..."

    He also said

    "This idea, the big society, is both incredibly ambitious, but also refreshingly modest.

    Ambitious because its aims are sweeping - building a fairer, richer, safer Britain, where opportunity is more equal and poverty is abolished.

    But modest too - because it's not about some magic new plan dreamt up in Whitehall and imposed from on high.

    It's about enabling and encouraging people to come together to solve their problems and make life better."

    Mr Cameron needs to check over the details of that philosophy again.
    Go figure.

  • Comment number 36.

    A lot of people - me included - have been very impressed by the way our city government has tried to work with the UK one, despite philosophical differences. They won't have made this decision lightly, and referring to that they are 'Labour' is a red-herring. The official opposition here is Lib Dem, and until last year our government of over 10 years was Lib Dem. The recent city budget was set by consensus between the parties. The normal rules of UK politics just don't apply here, and this is a sign of a real problem with the 'big society' agenda, achievability and what people can live with.

  • Comment number 37.

    snuff @ catch

    "Less services and tax reductions can actually help the poor and needy."

    Tax reductions, yes, but less services? No sorry, can't see that helping the poor.

  • Comment number 38.

    13#

    Progressive Alliance... Radical Party... would certainly make for an interesting and appropriate four letter acronym, wouldnt it?

    PARP.

  • Comment number 39.

    outrage @ 23

    I think they should split into "Nick Clegg and the Bad Seeds" and "The Democratic Liberals". The DemLibs then able to pursue the old (pre May 6th) LibDem agenda, free of tory taint.

  • Comment number 40.

    Is Cameron old enough to remember when Thatcher declared that there was no such thing as society, and swore to destroy same. We will never forget this declaration in ex-mining communities as the tory government at the time sought to destroy any political power in said communities. Beware Tories trying to cover over bitter memories of the past.

  • Comment number 41.

    The problem with Cameron's version of the Big Society is that it fails to acknowledge AND build upon the inspiration, talent and energy of countless organisations and people who work for, or contribute to, not-for-profit activities.

    Indeed, ever since Thatcher, the nature of political leadership in the UK has become distorted by the use of rational managerial language which fails to emote our people. Paradoxically, many large corporations evoke the language of vision and mission, moving people to work for the benefit of the business overall, rather than for their team or section alone. In this context, the recognition of employees' strengths and contributions to the mutual benefit of an oganisation is key to the organisation's success. So Cameron et al would be well advised to look at best business practice if they really want their vision of a Big Society to engage others in their new emerging political paradigm.

  • Comment number 42.

    So a Labour council joins the unions in claiming they can't afford to play ball with the elected government. That is to be expected. These councils prefer to cut services to the council tax payers and to the vulnerable rather than get rid of the non essential tiers of non jobs and the high proportion of overpaid executive posts that have been created in local government over the past 13 years to mask the failure of the last government to find gainful employment for the population.

  • Comment number 43.

    I agree with what Cameron is trying to achieve with the Big Society, but it was a big mistake trying to collectively brand those principles under a slogan.

    The slogan just attracts cynicism and undermines the initiatives that the government are trying to implement. There is nothing inherently wrong with encouraging people to take more responsibility for themselves, just as there is nothing inherently wrong with cutting the bloated public sector. Suggesting that this means the government is trying to replace essential services with DIY alternatives though, is totally ridiculous. But this IS the response that the slogan invites, and as such, the government has scored an avoidable own goal.

    Cameron must either provide an unambiguous definition of what Big Society is, or quietly drop the slogan completely. Personally, I would suggest the latter.

  • Comment number 44.

    Mr Robinson

    Please 'Lay off' the big society .. it's starting to work wonders ... in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordon ... but I'm not so sure about the UK?

    I think I get it now ... the big society ... means very a much smaller establishment that is properly comitted to the national interest and not just to themselves. This is going to need an awful lot of work in the UK.

    Where have I heard something sismilar before? ... Hmmmm ... 1997 ... a certain politician who later became General Tony of Khartoum ... er sorry ... I meant Baghdad (except that he's never been there) ... promised 'big society' reforms ... except he had none of the 'nows(e?)', guts, intent, intellect or support that is needed for its delivery?

    Perhaps our political class and the establishment can take their fingers out of the exorbitantly privileged ... price creeping, tax dodging supermarkets, banks, energy companies, multi-nationals, importers of every foreign product ... but knowing that the 'fingers' belong to their parents, sons and daughters, friends, associates, 'partners', donors etc ... will mean that something ...'earth shattering' (that's politicians' talk for actually doing something instead of spinning it along) ... will be needed to achieve this.

  • Comment number 45.

    35. mefocu
    "breaking state monopolies, allowing charities, social enterprises and companies to provide public services, devolving power down to neighbourhoods, making government more accountable...building a fairer, richer, safer Britain"

    See what I mean? Everything he is talking about he only has the authority to do in England. So why doesn't he say "richer, safer" England.

    He doesn't sound like he's a stupid man, so I have to assume that his choice of words is either very careless, or very careful.

    Since so few up here vote Tory anyway, and most that do are probably very well aware that these English policies are irrelevant to them, is this

    An attempt to sow confusion among the Welsh?
    An attempt to persuade the English that they matter outside England?
    some other reason?

    This whole exercise in obfuscating England out of existence seems inexplicable.

  • Comment number 46.

    32. At 6:23pm on 03 Feb 2011, reincarnation wrote:
    22. Up2snuff
    "Less services and tax reductions can actually help the poor and needy."

    Of course. But that would mean less services for the rich and tax reductions for the poor.

    Are any of the UK parties (who actually control tax policy) suggesting the latter? I know UK Labour did for a bit, before they reverted to Tory type and dumped the 10% rate.

    ==============================
    If you are looking for a party suggesting tax reductions for the lowest paid you could look at the LibDems / Coalition.

    In April the tax allowance will rise by 1000 pounds (a LibDem gain from the coalition) whilst at the same time reducing the rate of higher rate tax.
    Net result is low paid paying less tax (very lowest currently paying tax will be taken out of it completely) and richer paying more - seems to meet your criteria.

    If things go to plan the tax allowance could rise to 10k before the end of the parliament which is only benefiting the very poorest.

  • Comment number 47.

    As visions go I'd say the 'Big Society' is a pretty good one. The question to ask is whether visions serve any useful purpose.

    In practical everyday terms probably not. In political terms absolutely. In fact you pretty much need one if you're an aspiring leader of a political party because otherwise people say you lack vision.

  • Comment number 48.

    44. nautonier
    "tax dodging supermarkets"

    So the Con/Lab/LD coalition in Scotland votes against a tax on them.

    Sounds like none of these parties is worthy of your support then.

  • Comment number 49.

    It is interesting to read many of the above comments most of which seem to 'dis' the whole idea of the "Big Society" for one reason or another but perhaps the corner stone of this concept and by any which label you give it, is that there are far too many 'taxpayer funded' things that we as individuals, should be doing for ourselves.

    Take for example the Brown "Child Endowment" or whatever name it was called by, just because a child was born here, they got £250, why ? Because according to Gordon, their parents are too feckless to care for them ? Surely this was a total nonsense because it is not the place of the State to do such things.

    I looked after both my +80 year old parents for 6 years. It was a full time job for which I was "paid" about £50 a week plus a top up to some notional minimum of a total £140 pw so, full time 24/7 care for two old people in their own home cost the taxpayer £7,000 pa, likely a bargain. Do I resent that ? Of course not, it was my parents and I was in the position to put my time in and more than that, was grateful for the financial help I got to do so.

    We have to be realistic here: Today's Taxes pay, today's benefits and in difficult times for the public purse, call it what you like, Big This or that, the only way as a society is for us to 'leave no one behind' old person or child is by totally voluntary help that costs us as individuals the time and effort but the taxpayer little to nothing.

    Labour Councillors in a totally Labour controlled area that generated as the 'local norm' a sitcomn called 'Bread', are not valid straws in the wind for all of the Country, just those parts of it where dependency on the taxpayer is a way of life and local politicians want to play with their..."wobbly bits" .

  • Comment number 50.

    10 John Constable

    Happy to stand corrected John from previous blog on your Scottish stance.

    Back on topic - The Big Society = stuff for free to hide the impact of cuts. Whats actually worse is the implication that people dont get off their backside and do half these things anyway. If people take the trouble to look round all over the UK then they'll see society at work trying to help. Mrs Thatcher was wrong back then and Mr Cameron is wrong thinking we need some gimmicky govt policy to sort out a non-existent problem.

  • Comment number 51.

    What Cameron still does not appear to understand is that most Local Councils are totally inept.

    They waste lots of money, don't listen to the wishes of local people, bulldoze through unpopular planning decisions (always taking the side of big developers), provide poor services while often paying their Chief Executives obscenely high salaries.

    Voters need protection from local authorities. The last thing people want is yet more powers to be given to these tinpot dictatorships.

    The so-called 'Big Society' is meaningless twaddle. What people actually want is Small Government. If Cameron had understood this, he might have actually won the last election.

  • Comment number 52.

    "I'm not saying Big Society is a panacea. Its badly sold, means too many things to too many people and isnt clearly defined or financed yet."

    "Fine. If thats how Liverpool wants it, then fine. Leave 'em to it. Let someone else take part in the pilot scheme. If its successful, maybe this particular politician may be left with egg on his face afterwards, for the sake of less than 24 hours of headlines. And the people of Liverpool may end up being worse off for not having tried it."
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hard to believe but both quotes from same poster. Welcome to the schizophrenic world of Fubar_Saunders. Bad day a right wing blogging.com?

  • Comment number 53.

    30. At 6:22pm on 03 Feb 2011, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    ...how local people doing things for and with their own local community, like what used to happen fifty or sixty years ago, before we lost all that...

    We haven't lost all that, Fubar. A lot of people, far more than you think, are running the things that councils stopped doing ages ago. Our local village Heritage Association is entirely run by volunteers. We had well over 100,000 visitors to our centre last year. The council withdrew its tiny grant a while ago. They also decided to demolish the public toilets. Cheaper that way and their justification was that there are more about 2 miles away. So the village took them over, did them up and provide the rota of volunteer attendants who keep them spotlessly clean. You might have cause to thank us for that if you visit us next summer, Fubar! This happens all over the country - you just don't hear about it.

    ...And some of those Tory councillors will be booted out with the same enthusiastic community spirit at the next opportunity.

  • Comment number 54.

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

  • Comment number 55.

    46. Whistling Neil

    You appear to be one of those who think that "tax" means "income tax". Now, I'm quite prepared to believe that income tax is the biggest tax that you have. For the poorest, that isn't the case. The poorest don't pay income tax, because they don't earn enough money.

    That's why they are called "the poorest"!

  • Comment number 56.

    51. DistantTraveller
    "Voters need protection from local authorities. The last thing people want is yet more powers to be given to these tinpot dictatorships."

    Mmm You might want to re-read that and consider whether your use of political terminology is accurate, or meaningful, or sensible, or none of these while being simultaneously contradictory!

    All in all a couple of sentences wholly worthy of a blog about vacuous statements!

  • Comment number 57.

    I have a Big House and so do most of my chums, so we are a Big House
    Society. That must be a good start to the PM's plan.

  • Comment number 58.

    "Big Society", "We're all in this together", "Broken Britain"....

    Drone, Drone, all Tory clap trap, but it seems to have fooled the usual Dullards and apologists.

    Most hard working voluntary organisations eg CAB and numerous others rely on some sort of Government funding to meet essential expenses, but clearly they give a great return to society...however, you cut that funding and what would we expect to happen?...it aint rocket science though it seems to confound Dodgy an Co and his legions of blog fodder.

    As for dave's other mantra about Brokn Britain, I just wonder if he'll let us know when it's he's completed the repairs and perhaps he's got the big society on the job as we speak, yep the cuts in funding to debt advice charities announced n Tuesday, that should certainly help to mend broken Britain.

    Thanks Dave but most of all thanks Clegg for putting him there.

  • Comment number 59.

    Big society is ..... BS!
    A JOKE WHEN ALL THE CARING THINGS SOCIETY DOES ARE BEING SLASHED TO BITS.

    DROP THE DEAD DODO PRONTO.

  • Comment number 60.

    I work in local Govt, specialising in community policy. I have been dismayed at the ignorance being displayed by my Council. It is all about PR and gloss and there is no substance or core vision underlying some of the decisions being made. It's all about quick turnaround, nevermind the quality. I did not enter public service to do what I am now being asked to do, and my advice on how it can be made to work long-term is being ignored. Big Society, good in theory (too many 'things' in it to make sense) but crass implementation from the cuts, to decisions about quangos, and the flurry of consultation papers with stupid response periods. All talk, no thought.

  • Comment number 61.

    The "Big Society" has one major flaw.

    Despite all the cuts, we are still expected to pay a small fortune in tax. Wherever you look we are taxed. Sometimes we are taxed twice on the same product...!

    So unless we get some massive tax cuts, there's no incentive to get too involved in these "Big Society" ideas.

    Why should I continue to pay a fortune in Tax and be then expected to donate my time to serving the community.

    I'm simply not prepared to be taxed just to keep the Bureaucrats and politicians in jobs with fat salaries and fat pensions. I expect something practical to be done in return for all the tax I pay...

  • Comment number 62.

    Look, #1, the Big Society is not about the government deciding exactly what it wants and then instructing everyone to do it. That is big government: it costs a fortune and doesn't work, and the proof is there in our education system and health service, both of which are crucial but which delivery only uniform mediocrity when compared to other developed nations. No, and I can't believe people haven't grasped this yet, the Big Society is really a desperate attempt to get us all to get off our fat ar**s and take some blinking responsibility for our own lives, instead of expecting the government to do it all for us, and then moaning about it when it fails. It shouldn't be about "Lefties" scoring points off "Tories" - it should be about us all taking a step back from the brink and knuckling down to some more work for a change.

  • Comment number 63.

    reincarnation @ 28

    Yes, there IS a certain shyness in some quarters ... oh no, just too vulgar ... about proclaiming one's Englishness. I think this is mainly because there's also a certain bellicosity in other quarters ... England uber alles! ... about that very same thing. So the one is a reaction to the other (in both directions).

  • Comment number 64.

    I am afraid the big society is just a sound bite ideal that means nothing other than trying to get services run on the cheap or by volunteers.
    Many communities in Liverpool & everywhere else already run a lot of local services for those who need them , this would lead to many services dissapearing & the Govt saying nobody wants to run them so they mustnt have been needed.
    Lets not confuse not having the time , skills or knowledge to run a service to the need to have it.
    Apparently we are al in this together , I am sure that Mr .Cameron , Osbourne & all the other ex Etonions are struggling with the pay freeze's rising inflation , job insecurity , payment of tution fees & high price of petrol.Lets hope they dont lose theri family allowance or bus passes ............

  • Comment number 65.

    Fubar @ 34

    Hmm - apart from it being Labour and Liverpool, not sure it really does sound much like Derek Hatton. Total PARP, in fact, to say so. Deggsy was a bit of a one-off. Also an eighties thing. You can't have a Deggsy without a Maggie - and vice versa, I suppose.

  • Comment number 66.


    ''What next, I wonder?

    "LIFE LONG LABOUR SUPPORTER VOWS NOT TO VOTE FOR CAMERON"?''
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Why not discuss the actual issues at hand instead of playing with words to suggest that the only reason Joe Anderson has rejected The Big Society is because he is a Labour Councillor?

    Its not just Labour supporters who are against this government now. All the students who voted for Nick Clegg have changed their minds to say the least. Even their own are turning against them: David Camerons brother-in-law Dr Carl Brookes was worried hospitals could lose out under the shake-up.

    The Big Society is the kind of niave idea a brainstorm group comprised of 15 year olds on a school committee would come up with. Except in their case it would be a genuinely philanthropic, though niave, idea, not as it is with David Cameron: SPIN to fool people that he cares about the ordinary person in the community. Now THAT's cynical.

    Joe Anderson's rejection of the Big Society one of many warnings of things to come.

  • Comment number 67.

    55. At 7:19pm on 03 Feb 2011, reincarnation wrote:
    46. Whistling Neil

    You appear to be one of those who think that "tax" means "income tax". Now, I'm quite prepared to believe that income tax is the biggest tax that you have. For the poorest, that isn't the case. The poorest don't pay income tax, because they don't earn enough money.

    That's why they are called "the poorest"!

    =========================

    If you want to take one word out of context and then make agressive and highly assumptive replies back based on a false reading of the reply then I am sorry but you reduced the pool of people willing to correspond with you by one unless an apology is forthcoming.

    You asked a question which I took as an honest one and suggested a reply which matched it about something positive for the lowest paid tax payers/poor/poorest (take your pick).

    Oh couple of last things, of course I am aware there are many forms of tax however in a reply based in a question about income tax it is not normally required to always use both words unless correspoding with a pedant or an idiot, neither of which I took you for.
    Most working peoples largest tax outlay is income tax, hardly rocket science - they also pay VAT, council tax, Vehicle taxes, fuel duties, insurance tax etc etc etc.
    Also, you will find that the poorest (as in the very poorest) do pay some taxes (they cannot avoid it) - value added tax which is levied on many neccesities of life including fuel (even when costing more on a prepay scheme which is a disgrace in itself), some foods and clothing which undoubtedly the very poorest (though infrequently) are unable to do without.

  • Comment number 68.




    Interesting to note that although the “big society” idea, has been around for a while now, not many people really know the details of what its all about. Even conservative counsellors and party members are being encouraged to go on workshops, conferences and courses to get to grips with it.

    One example of a course/workshop
    http://www.national-training.com/events/conferences/bigsoc/index.php
    prices for any takers. Unfortunately there is no option to pay by direct debit.

    Early Bird Fees:
    £242.10 + VAT for a first delegate
    £197.10 + VAT per head for second or subsequent delegates from the same organisation
    £197.10 + VAT for small Charitable/Voluntary organisations (turnover less than £1m)

    “The Big Society is a key set of policies of the new Coalition Government, set against the current social and economic landscape; it is a new and challenging agenda. The development of Big Society initiatives and projects will require significant changes in government policy and new ways of working in partnership with the community and voluntary sector, social enterprises”.




    So in summary the big society is ultimately about saving money. The government want to reduce the role of govt and public services by asking people to do things themselves and/or rely on charities. At the same time they are reducing funding to charities and slashing essential govt spending to councils/public services.

    There are many examples of how this could work.
    Just a few here..........................

    Example 1.
    The unemployed will walk to the job centre because there are fewer buses and they wont be able to afford the bus fare anyway (big society). When they get there, there will be fewer jobs and fewer job centre staff to advise them due to cuts. The amount they receive could be lower under new restructuring of payments and even if it isn’t the cost of living (rising vat, energy bills, etc etc) means the amount they get wont go nearly as far as it didn't in the first place.

    Example 2.
    Some local youths are vandalising a car. The owner, a factory worker, phones the police, but as police numbers have been cut they don’t arrive in half an hour so the factory worker decides to deal with the problem himself. He goes outside and pulls one of the boys off the car himself (big society). The boy grazes his knee and decides to sue. The factory worker goes to citizens advice centre but it has been closed down due to cuts. He phones the next nearest CAB centre but he earns £10 per month too much to qualify for free advice. He pays to see a solicitor which means he cant afford his gas bill which has gone up considerably. (Along with his car insurance). He goes to the bank to get a temporary overdraft but is refused so he goes to his local money till pay-day shop who are more than willing to help. APR 3762%.

    Example 3.
    A local handyman offers to go to his sons comprehensive school to repair the leaking roof in one of the portacabins that is now not being replaced due to cuts (big society). On his way he drives over a pothole that hasn’t been repaired by the council because of cuts. It costs him £60 for a new tyre. He eventually gets to the school and repairs the roof. He loses £100 for taking a day off work. On his way home he drives past the local private school and remembers the radio programme he heard the day before. He remembers key quotes from the conversations
    “For those that qualify, our Pension Plan is often the best option. By extending the time you pay your school fees, you may, frequently without any extra monthly cost, build up a substantially greater pension fund and pay off your fees. The additional tax relief gained can often be more than the original school fees”! All courtesy of the exchequer...aka the tax payer. Independent schools are run as charities, which gives significant tax advantages.

  • Comment number 69.

    As far as I see the "Big Society", it's a means of placing more unemployment in society. It needs to be place in the same place of Poll Tax, an historical failure of a Conservative lead Government.

  • Comment number 70.

    Cameron's Big Society claptrap is falling apart before his very eyes...even the peer put in charge of it can't hack it :


    "Lord Wei of Shoreditch, who was given a Tory peerage last year and a desk in the Cabinet Office as the "big society tsar", is to reduce his hours on the project from three days a week to two, to allow him to see his family more and to take on other jobs to pay the bills."

    Guardian 1/2/11

  • Comment number 71.

    Agree with most of the posters here.... the BS (how apt) reeks of brainstorms and blue sky thinking. And I'll bet it was an easy sell to Dave with his PR hat on. You have to be really careful with soundbites and slogans.

  • Comment number 72.

    67. Whistling Neil

    I'll give you this - that the LD proposal to raise threshholds was better than Tory or Lab were offering. It doesn't alter the core reality that the poor and needy are unaffected by income tax, hence my post gave Labour too much credit.

  • Comment number 73.

    The difficulty we English have with the big society is that it is driven by a philosophical idea which we distrust when applied to our slumbering constitution,our lazy empiricism and dislike of isms.

    The idea is that government is oppressive,that communities know what suits their needs and active citizenship at a local level is a value in itself.These ideas dovetail neatly with an economic policy which aims to shrink the state and encourage self reliance.

    It must surely be the government`s hope that at a time of economic upheaval,the big society will provide a cohesive idea to compensate.

    The difficulties have been well rehearsed here.Of what value is the big society when Pfizer closed its factory at Sandwich? The economy is national and global,social organization follows economic structure, ideas of local autonomy are a nonsense except for subsidiaries or smaller players.

    Add to that the slashing of local government budgets and you lose the epicentre of libraries,charities,schools,local transport voluntary groups and all of Burke`s "Small platoons."

    Big society is a bespoke idea,like artisan cheese it`s expensive and Mr.Blobby shows no sign of putting his hands in his ample pockets.

  • Comment number 74.

    Get the bankers to give 25% of their bonuses to a fund initiatives to help the poor and the disadvantaged. Get them to give 80 hours a year to advise the new charities.

    ITS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE - THAT IS THE BIG SOCIETY!

  • Comment number 75.

    Hi Nick yes it is in trouble - and not because it is a bad idea but because his governments policies and cuts are undermining the very thing they want to support.

    The Big Society as let loose in the Localism Bill is a damp squib, rather than being power to the people, it is power to the local authority. It is as if whoever was writing the bill decided at the last moment that the community challenge for services and assets went too far, so they had to add in the proviso that the local authority has to have the last say. How can that be seen as radical and transformative? With the market based commissioning that will follow any challenge it is hardly likely that small community groups will be able to compete against larger better organised but less local organisations in bidding for services. All the bill does is annoy local authorities who feel they will have to constantly react to bogus challenges.

    The Big Society mark one also has a number of problems not least that the very organisations that support volunteering are being massively cut by local authorities. Nothing can have more totemic of the governments fractured approach to the big society than the decision to phase out funding the national support structures to volunteering, community and volunteer involving organisations.

    This short sighted nihilistic approach makes the policy risible to all but the most ardent ideologues.


    My understanding is that in the pathfinder areas nothing is happening.

    David Cameron really put his finger on something with the big society - the problem is it was already there and his policies are now dismantling it.

  • Comment number 76.

    I think I will stick with the ridicule.

    Lord snooty chucks us lower classes out of work, casting us and our families into poverty whilst his fellow toffs get 55% pay rises and million pound bonuses.

    Apparently the scheme is that we will all then come back and do our old jobs - or someone else's - for free.

    Ho, ho, ho .... I think not.

    It really is a great time to laugh at the tories.

  • Comment number 77.

    48. At 6:56pm on 03 Feb 2011, reincarnation wrote:

    44. nautonier
    "tax dodging supermarkets"

    So the Con/Lab/LD coalition in Scotland votes against a tax on them.

    Sounds like none of these parties is worthy of your support then.
    ....................

    Yes ... its the 'turkey establishment' not voting for Christmas ... they're all 'linked' with the establishment as the differences between them all are as narrow and false as the Tesco - v - Asda phoney price creeping war

  • Comment number 78.

    Whistling Neil

    "If you are looking for a party suggesting tax reductions for the lowest paid you could look at the LibDems / Coalition."

    According to the IFS,even factoring in the tax reduction,the budget leaves the poorest and the richest losing the highest proportion of their income after the cuts.

    As you know,in politics it`s not what people think that matters but what they do.In other words who gets what,how much do they get and when?

    For a Lib-Dem this must be a chilling lesson and the end of a dream, rather like Camelot.Don`t despair,another group of earnest fantasists will be along soon and you can join them.Just don`t count on Mr.Clegg to lead you,by that time he will be embedded with the Tories.


  • Comment number 79.

    77. nautonier

    And many got crates of free lager when the legislation failed.

    Certainly a Happy Xmas for some turkeys!

  • Comment number 80.

    There is a danger here for left wing critics of the BS. The more they go on about how silly the idea is the harder it becomes for the Coalition to quietly ditch the idea. Let's face it even the usual suspects don't seem to have much enthusiasm for defending the BS.
    Perhaps if those on the left could just pretend to be looking the other way on this one, you know pretend to be uninterested, then the Coalition might do the decent thing. They shoot horses don't they?

  • Comment number 81.

    While admitting to being a conservative by instinct, when I first heard David Cameron float his idea about the "Big Society" I heard myself groaning, after which I (metaphorically if not actually) put my head in my hands and thought "Oh G*d No..."
    Nothing I have heard since has given me any reason to change this view.

  • Comment number 82.

    I suggest anybody unsure of what the Big Society is take a look at 'When the Boat Comes In'.

  • Comment number 83.

    Society works, even a big society works, where there is a considerable degree of equality in that society .... unfortunately this is anathema to both Tory and Labour so society will continue to disintegrate - anyone for a gated community!!!!

    If you want society - first one MUST cap both incomes and wealth. (See David Cameron's idea of the maximum set at 20 times the minimum.)

  • Comment number 84.

    Thanks 74 great idea and to Liverpool City Council VERY WELL DONE. At last some sense and I hope others who have signed up to the BS follow suit. I have been under the impression for years that most of us were part of the BS as part of the way we are - for example subsidising our children's education supporting our kids at university etc supporting charities of many kinds - all the famillies who support their elderly and disabled people and thus save the state millions of pounds the parents who support their sick children - and let us not forget the very many people who on low incomes actually PAY THEIR FULL SHARE OF INCOME TAX - WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER really? let us see - let us see

  • Comment number 85.

    Big Society = Big Mess, what does it actually mean ? poke beneath the thin veneer of rhetoric and what do you have ? a hollow phrase who`s meaning is lost in the message !

  • Comment number 86.

    80. At 9:19pm on 03 Feb 2011, Idont Believeit wrote:
    "There is a danger here for left wing critics of the BS. The more they go on about how silly the idea is the harder it becomes for the Coalition to quietly ditch the idea. Let's face it even the usual suspects don't seem to have much enthusiasm for defending the BS.
    Perhaps if those on the left could just pretend to be looking the other way on this one, you know pretend to be uninterested, then the Coalition might do the decent thing. They shoot horses don't they?"

    I think you may have a point.On the other hand the longer it goes on the more discredited they become.Succesful periods in the history of the party is when they succeed in reinventing themselves.Mr.Cameron has tried to do this but is boxed in by the economy.

    Anyway,Big Society is a weak idea because it quickly comes up against reality and is found wanting. You need an idea that soars,as a myth like Disraeli`s queen and empire,Churchill`s nation in arms,Macmillan`s imperturbability as the empire crumbled.And inbetween reinventions? Disraeli said it,-the stupid party.

  • Comment number 87.

    "Now Councillor Anderson is a Labour politician...."

    Nick, we were not born yesterday and we know how Labour operate. Its all about the Labour Party's interest and never mind actual people. This is not news.

  • Comment number 88.

    I think the moment we saw the details of the spending review we all knew the the "big society" was dead in the water, a lame duck ... it once looked great as a duckling but when it came to fly the nest the poor little duckling is struggling and is doomed to fall to a death ... big society ... big faliure

  • Comment number 89.

    Big Society has emerged as Big Business Society. If you've got a lot of money you can buy things that were once owned by all of us. Like Forests. People in the UK are really feeling the squeeze and are working harder than ever to protect their livelihoods and assure a basic standard of living for their families. They do not have the time or resources to fill the gaps left by the budget slashing and local authority spending custs. The Government has created a vicious spiral of cynicism and indifference amongst the population by failing to meet the standards of support that it promised us all. We have been failed by them and they are too removed from reality to see what they have done. What a great pity!

  • Comment number 90.

    we always were a big society politicians need to trust that everybody is doing the best the very best that they can already - those of us who volunteer will always do so its a bit of a downer not to be recognised and have some one saying oh thats a good idea and we'll do it on less money- David Cameron thinks up these ideas with no knowledge of how much effort we already put in in an unacknowledged way - I am a full time carer with mental health problems of my own - Thats as big as it gets keeping two people out of expensive psychiatric hospital treatment - Worker co-ops were a thriving very big society in the 80's when Thatcher derailed the movement by setting up co-ops as job creation - Stop meddling and find out whats happening - its insulting and counter productive.

  • Comment number 91.

    I am Head of the Citizenship Department in a secondary school and there is little mention of it continuing in the Governments proposals for education. Citizenship aims to encourage pupils to become informed and active members of society, a school level version of the big society. How does this government hope to have the public involved in voluntary and useful contributions to society when they are not backing this at a grass roots level. I like the idea of a big society, I would like to see apathetic members of society becoming active members, but mostly I would like to see some sensible thinking of how to get this to happen, rather than just voicing the idea.

  • Comment number 92.

    It could be about obesity for all the relevance it's likely to have. Actually, perhaps it is - I neither know nor care.

  • Comment number 93.

    The government appears to want to bring about a big society and improve general happiness, but their actions don't support this. Selling off forests and failing to introduce a per unit alcohol price clearly show that the Conservative party hasn't actually changed at all.

    David Cameron's job is to appear to be wholesome and loveable whilst passing unpopular legislation which consolidates the position of the rich. It's a shame really, I was nearly ready to believe him!

  • Comment number 94.

    Great news,if this means no extra money going down the plug hole called Liverpool.

  • Comment number 95.

    reincarnation @ 4

    You asked me about the Question Time programme and referenced a website which discussed a QT editor's refusal to relocate from London to Glasgow.

    We also read that the BBC is having some difficulty in persuading staff to relocate from Lodon to Salford.

    People who live in London are often reluctant to leave for a variety of reasons and it should not be seen as any sort of slur on the target relocation places.

    Actaully, people are often not willing to relocate from wherever they are currently living to anywhere else, usually because of family ties and friends.

    QT is a tedious programme anyway with a very tired format and only comes to life when somebody controversial, such as the BNP's Nick Griffin appears - and then it became a full scale car-crash of a programme, which at least was somewhat entertaining and informative.

    Probably it should be more like a political version of the Jeremy Kyle Show, full of real warts-and-all politicans going full-bore at each other, not the sanitised for human consumption version that QT currently hosts.

  • Comment number 96.

    I'm sick of people whinging that they "don't understand the 'big society'"

    If you don't know what it means, how are you qualified to comment on whether it works or not?

  • Comment number 97.

    Whatever you call it, big, small or anything-in-between society there is a problem that has been mentioned on this blog - namely that people in full-time work, which is usually extracting the maximum effort, does not leave much energy for volunteering.

    As it stands, we seem to live in a society where the potential working mix includes full-time workers, some part-time workers and the unemployed.

    If, like Germany, we had managed to have many more part-time (flexible) workers, particularly drawing from the ranks of the unemployed, then those part-timers might well feel they have some energy left over for volunteering.

    In other words, rebalancing the economy is not just about shifting human resources from the public to private sector but also about creating the conditions that allow more part-time working with the possible side benefit of more volunteering.

  • Comment number 98.

    95. JohnConstable

    Thanks. I watch it from time to time, but it always looks as if Dimbleby has decided what topics he wants to cover - then picks the appropriate questions.

    I imagine framing a question for QT is as useful a process as responding to a UK consultation paper.

  • Comment number 99.

    "If you don't know what it means, how are you qualified to comment on whether it works or not?"

    Like "The great ignored", "Alarm Clock Britain" and Labours "Squeezed middle". It doesn't mean anything. Wouldn't it be great if people did stuff for charity and Cameron could claim it as his big idea? seems to be it. Its not our fault your library's closing its yours for not taking the opportunity to buy it and run it yourself. They are being very devious with words. Like when they say "We are not doing this for ideological reasons." to cover up the fact that they're doing it for ideological reasons. You just have to look at how self satisfied they look after they've done it.

  • Comment number 100.

    I have often been very critical of Liverpool City Council whether run by the Lib-Dems or Labour, (It is a Conservative Free Zone). However I must in this case praise them for showing some Northern Commonsense and rejecting this ill thought out "Big Society" nonsense. It is a "bunco booth" idea where one will end up paying the same amount for inferior services or indeed being expected to do it for yourself. Somebody needs to take David Cameron aside and tell him to drop this "Big Mistake" before it collapses in ignomy and takes him and his party down with it. It is doomed to failure.

 

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