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They love it, they love it not

Nick Robinson | 09:22 UK time, Monday, 14 February 2011

Can David Cameron make us love his Big Society this Valentine's Day? He's certainly determined to try. Those who refuse to be wooed may wonder why he bothers.

The first reason is the next election. The prime minister accepts that the deficit, the economy and cuts will define him, his party and his government whenever he goes to the polls. However, David Cameron wants to be seen to stand for much more than that. From the moment he became party leader he spoke of decontaminating the Tory brand. With Ed Miliband now speaking about re-contaminating it, the stakes could scarcely be higher.

The second reason is captured in a phrase Tony Blair liked to use when party supporters demanded to know why he was going along with George Bush and his war in Iraq - "it's worse than you think, I actually believe this stuff".

For years Tories have been clear what they are against - what David Cameron called the big, top down, bossy bureaucratic society - but they struggled to articulate what they were in favour of. The Big Society is his answer but it's still a struggle.

One thing worth noting today is that the Tory leader is reaching for phrases he's had more success with. Phrases such as "responsibility" and "broken society" to explain the concept he's finding it hard to make us love.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Hmmm, still not convinced over the Big Society thing

    I think he does have his work cut out to get the message across, I think people have a vague idea about what it is about and what they can do but it still seems to be just sound bites - and more on the way as well

    I just don't think enough people will but into in fully to make it work, there's just so much apathy towards it. It will be a struggle....

  • Comment number 2.

    His mistake was choosing the word "big". Sort of means everything and nothing. He should have consulted a PR expert.

  • Comment number 3.

    "....the big, top down, bossy bureaucratic society..." I know Mr Cameron can't help it, but he sounds bossy all the time, and his plummy accent makes it worse. His petulant defence of the "Big-Mac Society" is very irritating coming from a scion of a well-heeled elite who will not be materially affected by the damage he is inflicting on the rest of us proles.

    It is very difficult to build a credible policy on the basis of a sound-bite. Mr Cameron is just another politician getting his undergarments in torsion after discovering this.

  • Comment number 4.

    Big society is a scam intended to get idiots to work for free whilst the tories make the people who used to do the work redundant forcing them (and their families) to live in poverty.

    Meanwhile the spivs in the city can not possibly be expected to do a lick of work for less than £100k basic and a million bonus.

    When I hear that the spiv sector in london is being run on unpaid volunteers or that MPs are working out the goodness of their hearts then ask me again.

    In the interim I will respond to calls for me to do someone elses job for free with the contempt it deserves.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think "society" was a bad choice too. He means community.

  • Comment number 6.

    David Cameron has a big job on his hands. He has to somehow prove that the "Big Society" is not just another pithy political statement like "Broke Britain". The ideology that if you dismantle aspects of the state then the "private" sector/volunteers/charities automatically spring up to take its place, neither has validity in economics or in society at large.

    The glue that holds together society is varied. Publicly funded services are a part of the whole. If this project was billed as a 20 year gradual evolution it would have more validity. But the cuts, mean that this switch from public to private funding needs to happen almost immediately. This is a nonsense.

    He will have to do a lot more than this to convince people that this is more than a cloak for the cuts.

    http://bit.ly/eLcyvL

  • Comment number 7.

    While all this fuss is going on about National Forests, the Big Society and Project Merlin a real coup d'etat is going on under the radar with the Finance Bill 2011, called by Monbiot "the heist of the century". Read a layman's explanation of it here and PLEASE spread the word:

    One Sausage Too Many – stealing from the poor and giving to the rich
    http://sturdyblog.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 8.

    Will the shiny new £20billion ticketed Trident system, that's not being spent on the Big Society, not kill people more efficently than previous version did not kill people?

    http://tinyurl.com/6hfsstt

  • Comment number 9.

    jon @ 4

    That's a good point. We are often warned that if we're too mean to the bankers, they'll move to another country - ditto the highest earners if we increase tax rates. Do they not feel any responsibilities towards the country which nurtured them and allowed them to rise to these positions in the first place? Or are they above the 'big society'? Is it something you can evade, like income tax, when you earn over a certain amount? I think we should be told.

  • Comment number 10.

    As an overall concept, the small-state, community-responsibility type philosophy is a good one. The problem I think has been in the vagaries of the details and a lack of direction in the delivery.

    Always, with governments it seems, the delivery of the idea seems to be the lowest priorty, with marketing the idea taking precedence. Sadly, with the Big Society, the marketing hasn't been up to much either.

    Not to say that good can't come of this in the end, of course, it just depends on whether the coalition are up to the challenge of making it work.

  • Comment number 11.

    I am an member of a choir which, as well as providing some entertainment, raises tens of thousands of pounds for charity each year. We have always had a "big society" in my community.

    Now however, we are told we must do more. Why? - to help pay off bankers' socialised debts and to protect wealthy tax dodgers (including government ministers) from paying their fair share.

    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

    There is a lot of anger amongst those who volunteer, and many are as likely to give up as do more!

  • Comment number 12.

    All the Big Society talk could actually be detremental to the voluntary sector as it effectively politicises something that, by defination, has to stand above politics.

    For example, if I had the time I'd be very willing to volunteer to help run my local libraty if/when the local Tory council close it down. But NOT if the local Tory MP waddles down the road with a press phtographer and puts it about that 'this is a great example of David Cameron's Big Society in action.'

  • Comment number 13.

    "When I hear that the spiv sector in london is being run on unpaid volunteers or that MPs are working out the goodness of their hearts then ask me again. In the interim I will respond to calls for me to do someone elses job for free with the contempt it deserves."

    And that, DC, is why it will never work. Too many self important wind-up merchants, people lost up their own alimentary canals only bothered about whats in it for them and s*d everyone else. The kind of people who, if you were a stranger having been either beaten up by some pond life mugger in a town centre or had been taken suddenly ill, wouldnt be able to step over you fast enough to leave you to your fate and yet are quick enough to bleat about how the poor are getting shafted by the squirearchy.

    They talk about community when it suits them, they use it as a lever for their argument when it suits them, but when the chance is given to do something about it..... they cant run away fast enough.

    Full of urine and vinegar, the lot of them.

    Ironically, there is conceievably only one place where the Big Society idea could work or maybe already is working; the immigrant communities, particularly the muslim and jewish communities. Who says multiculturalism has failed, eh?

  • Comment number 14.

    If Dave is looking for a phrase - how about the Valentines day mascara - expresses the the substance of this fantasy.

    If you want to see top down bossy government read the Coalition's health bill.

  • Comment number 15.

    @2 @5 pcdavies65 Wasn't he a PR consultant at one point?

    On the night of his election, Vernon Bogdanor, Cameron's prof at Oxon, described him as "brilliant".¹ The rest of us must be really stupid if we're misunderstanding his message.

    ¹ it reminds me of a Russian proverb my late mum used to quote: "buckwheat porridge always praises itself."

  • Comment number 16.

    7#

    Oh god, not this garbage AGAIN.... are you so short of readers that you see the BBC as a way of getting free advertising for your navel gazing and reheated online-yesterdays-chip-wrappers?

  • Comment number 17.

    What a cringmaking phrase ! Mr Cameron is starting to make me sick

  • Comment number 18.

    The concept might be a good idea, it might even work... but when it's being presented by a man who is leading an administration that reneges on every obligation that it has towards its citizens, a man who is a leading member of a group (politicians, irrespective of party) which has a track record of putting themseleves and their cronies first, and who regard their duty to the country as a matter to be disregarded whenever their personal interests conflict with it, it is no wonder the poor dear struggles to be convincing.

  • Comment number 19.

    Big Society baffles brains.

  • Comment number 20.

    There is no question that the Big Society is a Political con. The big society already exists in almost every part of the country and Cameron is trying to appropriate volunteers efforts as part of the Tory Mission. Nice Tories Nice Big Society. The problem is that while some volunteers are Tories, many are not and some actually despise this cheap Tory attempt to claim their efforts for Tory dogma.

    If the plan is to replace paid professionals with unpaid volunteers then it won't work, the unpaid volunteers will do the "nice" jobs whilst the underfunded professionals will be scratching their heads on how to do the hard jobs with much less money.

    Cameron should also understand that this Big Society contributes to unfarness where a few people do all the community work, while the majority including the over paid bankers pay less tax and contribute nothing. In every area everyone knows that it is a small minority of largely retired people who contribute to the voluntary sector whilst the working majority have no time!

    I loathed Thatcher but at least she was honest in admitting that she thought that there was no such thing as society, Cameron believes this but has found what he thinks is a nice PR gimmick and does not like to have been found out so early.

  • Comment number 21.

    It should not be the "BIG" Society, it should be the "ONE" Society to replace the "whats in it for ME ME ME " Society.

    One of his problems is simply this, those of us who believe the bankers are raking it in at our expense (Present day Neros in the City of London as the rest of the country burns), we will treat these ideas with contempt. I have a Father who volunteers, tries to help his area but what happens ? The park rangers who were there previoulsy to provide PROFESSIONAL cover and help for the towns parks have been cut. Volunteers are now being used to cover for things that require professionals, professionals who are being cut as part of the cost cutting exercises. Volunteers see themselves as "cheap (FREE) labour", politicians trying to smokescreen and say otherwise are as out of touch with the people as the bankers but hey politicians/bankers and politicians/the people - which one would most say was the more natural fit ? That is the problem.

    This is not his only problem ? The woodlands issue is simmering along, politicians (of all ilk) have to start realising that people are not in the mood to accept "BIG" concepts, they want concepts that are seen to be FAIR.

    If Cameron thinks his sell of the "BIG SOCIETY" is tough now, wait till the bankers tell us how much they have "earned".

    One final thing, HBOS and RBS ? if they had failed along with all the others, what would have happened ? Financial meltdown ? No banks, no jobs,no bonuses. Bankers should remember that, without taxpayers, they would be like the millions of others, ONE society Mr Cameron, try that instead.

  • Comment number 22.

    Has David Cameron really changed his outlook on life since his Bullingdon Club days.

  • Comment number 23.

    That Cameron is sticking with the whole thing is both admirable (as it suggests genuine conviction - this would be very easy to flip-flop on and dump) and also 'brave' (in the Yes Minister sense of the word).

    The media have made the connection between the 'Big Society' and 'Cuts'. The coalition are pushing ahead with both in parallel so they will be hard to decouple. Somehow they have to get accross that they would have pushed on with Big Society regardless of the Labour legacy, whereas they only have to push with extreme cuts because of it.

    I think general cynicism means (sadly) people wont believe them - the connection has been made and it is going to be tough sell for the next few years. Good luck to him, because the philosophy behind it ("There is such a thing as society, it just is not the same as the state") is core to my belief system and I'd love to live in a place that lives and breathes it.

  • Comment number 24.

    This idea may of been in his head for five years but it hasn't been in anybodyelse's. The problem is he appears to be hijacking the already functioning voluntary sector and stamping 'Big Society' all over it. And worse, for conspiracy theorists, it's coinciding with local government funding withdrawals and local civil service job cuts. These former employees will not be able to walk into manufacturing related work, which is supposed to take up the slack when unemployment bites. So no wonder D.C. is having trouble explaining this, the fear in peoples' minds being that if they don't 'sign up' to this they may may difficulty 'signing on'.
    Regards, etc.

  • Comment number 25.

    No11Sasha,
    He was a failed spin doctor for a TV company that built a reputation for being 'the worst TV company in the world', they went bust owing millions of pounds.
    He is now seen by an ever growing number of people in the country as a rather smooth ruling class conman.

  • Comment number 26.

    Fubar - I happen to think it is an important and under-publicised issue. Your insults encourage me further. Play the ball, not the man.

    All the best.

  • Comment number 27.

    He(DC) needs his 'big head' examined!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Would you buy a second hand car off a con man?

  • Comment number 29.

    mark @ 12

    Yes, quite a thought. Cut public services, forcing people with big hearts - who thus probably aren't tories - to DIY and keep the show on the road, then claim political credit for the "Big Society" kicking in. A masterstroke (!) if they get away with that. Wonder what Monbiot thinks about it? Not much, I'm betting. Perhaps there's a hard-hitting article on its way.

  • Comment number 30.

    It took almost 10yrs to get the big state which is now being cut. I am sure that the idea of the big society is smothing that a lot of people like but I dont feel that it will get much support as people will be sceptical at the moment because of the cuts . However given time it will happen when people are weaned off being spoon fed by the state.

  • Comment number 31.

    Per 20, didn't someone once say that there is no such thing as the Big Society? Someone should tell CallMeDave pronto.

  • Comment number 32.

    The coalition point to large sums of money that charities will be able to get by bidding for central government contracts for things like taking over the DWP's Job Centre service, etc.

    As a community service volunteer in the 1970s, I worked for a homeless charity in the North East that ran night shelters. Times were hard - and this charity was responsible for providing a bed for the night for the homeless. I got £2.30 per week plus food - the men got soup and a bed - I was 16 and every week we had to cope with finding half a dozen dead in their beds - they all had lice - many were mentally ill - most alcoholics too - ex servicemen suffering from PTSS.

    A month or so after I left a scandal errupted - one of the principals in the charity had been creaming off thousands of pounds every month into his bank account, money given by individuals, government and councils to provide heating, food and staff to run the homeless service - he quite rightly went went to jail - whilst the homeless men suffered.

    Next project - a home for kids with learning disabilities - also a charity. The staff are a bit subdued when I arrived - there is no boss anymore - he's left suddenly -reason - he had been caught sexually abusing the children.

    Spool forward a few years - I'm now a paramedic in W. London - its the rugby season and a charity ambulance comes hurtling towards the local hospital with a minor injury patient - and runs over and kills an old lady on a crossing - the patient in the back of the ambulance has a sprained ankle - but they felt it OK to drive @ 80 mph on blue lights and sirens - and killed someone doing so.

    The point of these stories? Charities do a lot of great work - but we need professionals for many things - we need accountability - we need quality and reliable services.

    CHARITY IS NOT AN ALTERNATIVE TO A DECENT SOCIETY WHERE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED BY THE GOVERNMENT - they are a valuable additional and alternative way to support statutory services.

    David Cameron thinks he is right about this, but as someone coming from the priviledged Eton background he has enjoyed, he has no idea of what goes on in the real world and the fact that he has allowed finance for the voluntary sector he wants to expand to be slashed through local authority & government spending cuts proves that he has no understanding of how it works.

    To now pump money into charities and expect them to be competent, efficient and provide value for money is a baseless policy driven by dogma "private=good, public=bad" - as my personal experience above shows, this is a dangerous delusion. It is a fraudsters charter - an incompetent's license and a perverts delight to allow them to pray on the weakest members of society.

    As with all ideologues, Cameron's beliefs are borne out of prejudice and bigotry, he sounds like a 19th century pit owner patronising the "deserving poor" with complete contempt for the democratically elected representatives of local communities.

    Which brings me on to my final point - does the coalition see the "Big Society" an alternative to the "Democratic Society" ?

    Charities ar not democractically accountable to anyone - local authorities are at least open to change through the ballot box - why should we lose our right to vote for change in our local communities and who will have the power once the voluntary sector takes over?

    Unelected, self-appointed people with the time and the money to be able to set themselves up as "pillars of the community".

    We have been here before - Training & Enterprise Councils were employer-led organisations that took over from the public sector in controlling funding for training - until they were closed down following the revelation that vast sums were creamed off to provide bad or non-existent training that was being run in the interests of the private providers/employers at the expense of the trainees.

  • Comment number 33.

    I am tired of people from a small public school elite telling us we are 'all in it together.' The actions of their parents were to separate them from other children, from the great mass of society, to give them a sense they were superior (their instant rejection of other opinions is evidence of this), they themselves choose to live in smart parts of London and also have homes in the leafiest/loveliest part of the land.
    I would be happier to accept the'Big Society' if the people pronouncing on it would send their children to state schools,live in ordinary communities and to list the number and duration of their actions in support of the Great Society over the course of their lives. It would also be helpful to know the size of the charitable contributions they have made (and when, and in what proportion of their wealth). I think a philosophy that you should not say things if you do not live by them should apply strongly in this debate. I remember a lovely Private Eye cartoon of the Alec Douglas Home statement that I think went that 'he had lived among miners for many years' (for those that don't know the image he is shooting grouse on the moor and the miners are toiling underground below it).

  • Comment number 34.

    The big society is named the big society to counter "there is no such thing as society". It is designed to confuse the debates around cuts and to make a more Tory policy seem more like a cuddle than a slap.

    I must require more convincing.

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    As usual the left wing media is barking up completely the worng tree here.

    Why is this idea supposed to happen immediately? Why is there supposed to be a simulataneous and seamless transition of powers away from the public sector into the private sector? Nothing ever works like that.

    Given that we spent thirteen years waiting for the results of newlabour's doubling of the education budget, while all the time we were sliding down international performance tables, it's a bit rich to expect the fruits of the big society to yield instant results.

    This is just another opportunity for the left to have a good old moan about the dangerous economic experiment that we are undertaking. It's beyond contempt and as far as I can see beyond any reasoned analysis either. I guess we're still in the denial phase when it comes to the left losing power...

    it's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 37.

    Are you suggesting (36) a one-term government is taking the long view, Robin?

    Doubt that very much.

  • Comment number 38.

    A conman usually starts by praising his intended victim(s).
    (David Cameron tells us that our willing active volunteers are really doing an excellent job).

    It is then that the con starts.

  • Comment number 39.

    "The big society" is nothing more than an attempt at propaganda and confussion to encourage the ConDem's massively right wing, reactionary, pro-big buisiness agenda. This is a government that plans to drop corporate tax to 24%, let corporations bringing money into the country off paying any tax at all on it, has raised VAT to 20% then told us this was "progressive" despite the fact that it will hit low and middle income people the hardest, has put young people in this country at a massive dissadvabtage by cutting training and education for most public sector jobs and intends to make it far, far easier for companies to fire workers. They also intend to sell off huge quantities of public forrests, a move opposed by the vast majority of the population. All the big society actually seems to be saying is "now you guys get to look after the gutted ramins of you public services!" I also don't doubt that it will be used to let private interests buy a lot of these services. This government is affectively enacting a big buisiness coup of this country. We didn't vote for this and we should not tolerate it.

  • Comment number 40.

    Big Society! My memory may be dimming in my advancing years but I am still able to recall a certain Conservative Prime Minister once stating that "there is no such thing as society". Margaret Thatcher is the person in question and I don't ever recall her offering an explanation to those questioning her as to what she actually meant. I wish David Cameron well but in my opinion his PR team have done him no favours by using the word 'society'. For want of a better term Community would have been a better choice.

  • Comment number 41.

    Perhaps if the PM tried harder to put across the concept of personal responsibility, that each of us are responsible for our actions and deeds.
    That it is not always someone else's fault and the state cannot be expected to provide for all. The state is there to provide a safety net for those unfortunate to have fallen on hard times. Not those who have deliberately put themselves there.
    Perhaps if he tried to get this country away from the idea that everything can and has to be settled in court. Yes it is annoying if a paving slab is sticking up but, I should be looking where I am going.
    I am responsible.

  • Comment number 42.

    My all accounts this is now the third redefinition of this ill defined, government on the cheap policy.

    Laugh? I nearly became a member of the big society...

  • Comment number 43.

    Shafted Society...

  • Comment number 44.

    "The Big Society is here to stay"... like the Quiet Man?

  • Comment number 45.

    19#

    Not exactly the hardest job in the world, is it, baffling anything like half the contenders on this board...

  • Comment number 46.

    Sagamix..

    nope. I'm suggesting the left wing media will have to defer judgement until after the coalition is in its fourth term of government rather than jump to such hasty (and ill considered) opinions. The social democratic consensus of the UK and parts of Scandinavia has failed. Do keep up.

    It's grim up north London...

  • Comment number 47.

    The Big Society Mr Cameron says is to put peoples lives and services in their own hands. What he really means is when it goes belly up it's nothing to do with the ConDem Government after all it's in our own hands.

    So far all the current Government has done for the country is to breed dispair and to destroy the infrastructure that makes the less well of and vulnerable feel secure. Whilst I agree that changes have to be made the slash and burn policies which have been intorduced have done nothing to help people.nor improve the stability of the economy.

    Fear not I'm sure their next ploy will be to increase taxes further to pay for their outrageous cuts after all it's up to the Big Society to save themselves whislt others help themselves. Most if not all of the members of the Coalition have no idea what it's like to live in the real world. Maybe it's about time we told them.

  • Comment number 48.

    An idea conceive at dinner parties at the Camerons and their friends over port. it appeals to their type of person and it has the advantage of being so woolly that its almost impossible to criticize. My feeling its a bit like "care in the community". remember that mantra from the thatcher years closing down mental hospitals saving cash and then not providing resources to take care of the mentally ill that were displaced . the consequence was that we now have mentally ill in prison not hospitals. Remember believe what they 'do' not what they 'say'.

  • Comment number 49.

    Nick Robinson.

    "The second reason is captured in a phrase Tony Blair liked to use when party supporters demanded to know why he was going along with George Bush and his war in Iraq - "it's worse than you think, I actually believe this stuff"."

    yes, never let evidence get in the way of your beliefs.

  • Comment number 50.

    Big Society isn't a way of masking the cuts, it is the cuts. As Cameron says this idea precedes coming into Government and having to make cuts, it is rooted in an ideological conviction that the state should be smaller. Ironically Big Society finds its echoes in Thatcherite dogma, "There is no such thing as Society".

  • Comment number 51.

    *36 rockRobin7 said:

    "Why is this idea supposed to happen immediately? Why is there supposed to be a simulataneous and seamless transition of powers away from the public sector into the private sector? Nothing ever works like that."

    I agree totally with this statement, unfortunately the ConDem government doesn't as it it is expecting Local authotities to front load the spending reductions whilst complaining that they are cutting services. There may be things that can be done more efficiently but it will take time to share finance, buildings, back office services etc. etc. etc. In the meantime in order to deliver these front loaded cuts services will have to be hit and the Government is deservedly condemned!

    One small but important point I have been a School Governor for 20 years and in 1996 we had a meeting at our local Primary School where as a result of the last vile Tory regime we had to decide whether to no longer have a year teacher in every year or stop various elements of their centrally imposed national Curriculum such as swimming lessons. We chose to axe the swimming lessons and fortunately the Tories were turfed out and the following year the swimming lessons returned, in the next few years we were able to replace the failing heating system, mend the school roof, provide 4 class room assistants and the School improved its results every year. 13 wasted years ? I suspect it was 13 years trying to replace the damage of the previous 17 and before the cheap shot arrives, I am not a Labour party member or supporter but I am fast remembering that I am an anti Tory.

  • Comment number 52.

    We already are a Big Society!

    With Britain the fattest nation in Europe, we are a society of big people and the multinationals selling us all the junk type foods that turns people into spherical objects should sponsor the volunteers in communities with a share of their big profits.

    SIMPLES!

  • Comment number 53.

    I've always preferred the Dead Poets Society!

  • Comment number 54.

    I thought the idea of a catch phrase or sound bite was to economically evoke an idea - 'War on Terror'; 'Spending Cuts'; etc. But if no-one knows what the phrase means including the person who coined it we are all in trouble. If it means the state does less and individuals do more, fine, but we won't know that is happening until we see substantial tax cuts. Like the last government, this one is ramping up taxes.

  • Comment number 55.

    For years under labour we have had a free handout society. Don't want to work, that's o.k., here have some tax payers money.
    Most young people have been spoon fed by their parents, borne of the buy now pay later attitude. Computer in the kids bedroom, four televisions per household, car at seventeen.
    Now under the coalition we have to cut back. Even under labour you would see the same cuts, although it suits their lying agenda to kid you otherwise.
    It's hard once you have had it all to now face cut backs, but is it that hard. Who in this country is starving or poorly dressed, except through choice.
    The big society is basically encouraging us all to help each other, and telling the scroungers it's all over. No more free handouts.
    Please don't go on about the bankers, labour was only too happy to take the tax revenue from them. Now it's gone pair shaped banker bashing is led by labour, the very people that sullied up to them. MP's that bash the banks do so to deflect the fact that they to had their fingers in the trough. How come so many labour MP's now work for the banks that they so readily loathed.
    It's amazing how many BBC blogs are anti coalition, it was not the same when labour were in power.
    Labour are a disgrace and so to the BBC for siding with them.

  • Comment number 56.

    #32 Richard Bunning wrote:
    "As with all ideologues, Cameron's beliefs are borne out of prejudice and bigotry"

    Another objective blogging contribution then. Do you see the irony in what you have said?

  • Comment number 57.

    I have just listened to the PM with his big society idea. What a waste of words? I wish he had spoken about how he's going to create more growth in the economy. There are people losing jobs, and the PM needs to explain how they will be getting their next job assignments in an environment where every employer is cutting down on recruitment (See today's report on the Employer's Survey).

    Why is he looking down on the British society? I hate to use the word Broken society because that is not correct with regard to this Great country. The Tory led government cuts are going to escalate further broken societies. We have had of couples starting to separate from each other because of severe decreased incomes. Can he just realise how his government policies are going to damage and create more instability with families?

    I am aware that though it were a Labour PM in power, cuts would still be carried out. The critical issue is that, his government is cutting too first and too deep. He was warned by Gordon Brown, IFS and other reputable organisations during the May election debates and he's still being warned by even more organisations who were myopic at the time and had not thought through with his cuts policies. I just don't believe in his big society idea. It's a Con to the British people, thus trying to potray the Tories as a changed party but they are actually still the Nasty party.

    The Big Society idea has been around for generations and that is why the British are regarded as one of the most torelant and giving people on planet earth. The latter statement has not just been created recently, it has been around for generations. What is it that you are exactly trying to sell to the British public????? There are more charities and voluntary organisations in this country compared to the rest of the world and their work is being hindered by the Tory led Government spending cuts. This government is trying to eliminate the voluntary/Charity organisations than actually creating or increasing them. Anyone who wants to object with me, please feel free to do so.

  • Comment number 58.

    Are the Tories really in a Pickle ?

  • Comment number 59.

    "A month or so after I left a scandal errupted - one of the principals in the charity had been creaming off thousands of pounds every month into his bank account, money given by individuals, government and councils to provide heating, food and staff to run the homeless service - he quite rightly went went to jail - whilst the homeless men suffered."

    Dont tell me Richard, he was a public school educated tory as well, right???? How could I have possibly guessed, eh?? Did he eat their livers, washed down with a good Chianti and fava beans whilst he was at it?

    "Next project - a home for kids with learning disabilities - also a charity. The staff are a bit subdued when I arrived - there is no boss anymore - he's left suddenly -reason - he had been caught sexually abusing the children."

    Gaaah, those tories eh? Cant take 'em anywhere.....

    "Spool forward a few years - I'm now a paramedic in W. London - its the rugby season and a charity ambulance comes hurtling towards the local hospital with a minor injury patient - and runs over and kills an old lady on a crossing - the patient in the back of the ambulance has a sprained ankle - but they felt it OK to drive @ 80 mph on blue lights and sirens - and killed someone doing so."

    Sounds like a bit of a tall story, using emergency lights for a sprained ankle. Could have been that the charity ambulance was substituting for an NHS one in a division suffering overstretch. So, the bad driving of one ambulance driver curses the whole sector, does it?

    And what of the Air Ambulance services which are completely funded by charity and who have saved hundreds of lives? Or are these all evil tory dominated organisations just masquerading as sheep, when deep down, they're wolves ready to pick over the bones of the poor when the mighty, altruistic, all-seeing, all-good public sector workers back is turned?

    "The point of these stories? Charities do a lot of great work - but we need professionals for many things - we need accountability - we need quality and reliable services."

    Oh right. So thats why the likes of Barnado's and the rest of the children's charity sector isnt scandalised as much as the public sector's Child Protection divisions, is it? "Quality", "Reliable"?? Behave yourself Richard!!!! Professional, quality, reliable, my foot!

    "CHARITY IS NOT AN ALTERNATIVE TO A DECENT SOCIETY WHERE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED BY THE GOVERNMENT - they are a valuable additional and alternative way to support statutory services."

    You and I have very different visions of what constitutes "decent", Richard. The point of these stories is to take isolated incidents and use them to make a political point to justify job creation schemes and to give the incumbent coalition a kicking whilst avoiding answering the question as to how this came about in the first place. It is making excuses for not doing anything off your own back for the good of your fellow citizens unless theres something in it for you.

    If the public sector was that good, that all pervading, providing the omnipotent measurable quality time and time and time again, there wouldnt be any need for charities. But they aint.

    So there is a need.

  • Comment number 60.

    David Cameron would do well to remember a "law" first aired (I think) by Denis Healey: It is a good thing to follow the first law of holes; if you are in one, stop digging.

    Although I suspect that I share much of rockRobin7's political philosophy I don't think the contribution at 36 helps much. If the "Big Society" is to work it has to both sound and be coherent right from the outset, and frankly to my way of thinking it is currently neither.

  • Comment number 61.

    Lets be fair, to volunteer is laudable and something to be encouraged HOWEVER people get a sense that this intitiative has been created with a sense of taking advantage.

    How much is going into the "Big Bank" ? - £200 million

    How much is being paid in Bankers Bonuses ? - £6 billion

    If you and your City friends are really interested in personal responsiblity Prime Minister, may I suggest one way is to reverse these figures, £6 billion to recreate communities, and let the Bankers eat with the paupers.

    Personal responsibility ? Ah yes, thats a good one, how many bankers have been personally acountable ? It wont go away chaps, until you become personally accountable in Westminster and the City, people will take ideas like the "Big Society" with a pinch of salt (that is if we can afford any salt once the speculators force the price up)

  • Comment number 62.

    "The social democratic consensus of the UK and parts of Scandinavia has failed." - robin @ 46

    And so - patently - has free market capitalism. Interesting to see what's next; I'll be surprised if it features a great deal of Clegg or Cameron - think we all would be.

  • Comment number 63.

    #7 sturdyblog

    Monbiot's article was nonsense.

    If you are interested why (you are, aren't you?) you can click my user name and scroll down my previous blog entries.

  • Comment number 64.

    The problem with "The Big Society" is that, like a lot of conservative political thinking, it is contradicted by other parts of their agenda; in particular, the idea that competition and the creation of elites are the path to excellence, the simultaneous but mutally exclusive obsessions with efficiency and choice and, above all, the deliberate relentless replacement of trust and responsibility in society by financial transactions. The grafting of the latter plan for society onto a population which 30 years ago still yearned for the relatively cooperative, egalitarian world glimpsed briefly in the 1940s has been the project of governments for a more than a generation now.

    In fact, the Big Society is essentially a Socialist idea, and can only really succeed in a context in which people do not have to work full time for money in order to survive and where work is rewarded in proportion to its usefulness, rather than according to the volume of cash that it generates. In the hands of a conservative government, however, the idea promises only a return to a Victorian model of society, in which services were provided, sporadically, by the well-meaning or religiously inspired middle classes. Such services were consequently arbitrary and limited, with access depending on luck or being judged as deserving by the providers. A serious attempt to re-introduce this model but also ensure universal and consistent services provided by professional experts will, in practice, mean only privatisation and oversight by a new layer of quangos. Ordinary people will still not be involved.

  • Comment number 65.

    If this is the big (Top Down) society why is it just the little people that are being put on the scap heap and the so called Top People still taking 6 figure+ sums home?, just the Tories looking after their own once more, cull a few of these top earners and it may seem a little more pallitable to us on a modest income.

  • Comment number 66.

    "My memory may be dimming in my advancing years but I am still able to recall a certain Conservative Prime Minister once stating that "there is no such thing as society". Margaret Thatcher is the person in question and I don't ever recall her offering an explanation to those questioning her as to what she actually meant."

    yes, everyone remembers tales of the bogeyman from their childhood dont they Hattie? There was an explanation, or if you prefer, even the rest of the quote, rather than the selected bits you choose to quote.

    Maybe your advancing years and fading/selective memory stopped you from reading the entire thing before you went off on one...

    "There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations."

    make it to the end Hattie? See the difference? No?

  • Comment number 67.

    If its such a good idea lets see Mr Cameron volunteer to do his job for free? And all those who equally supposedly believe in the volunteer state that is the Big Society lets see them do their jobs for free. Whats the betting being a volunteer is great for others but not for any of them? Pure hypocrisy and standard Tory greed. Worse, to claim what good people do for humanity has somehow suddenly become a Cameron Big Idea is deeply repugnant. Its just like Mrs Thatchers 'Care in the Community'; invent a moniker for something you would not do yourself. And then take credit for it. Talk about PR nonsense. Save it for Dumbo the flying elephant!!!

  • Comment number 68.

    I'm not averse to the concept of The Big Society, and I'm not making a party-political point.

    The inevitable result of The Big Society is that there will be mixed results: people from affluent areas, with more free time and money, will be able to do more in their community, run a school, take over a library etc. The social problems faced in rich areas are tiny compared to those in deprived areas. Where money is limited and problems are great, The Big Society won't have anywhere near the same impact, regardless of the efforts of those who engage with it. The problems are just too great, and the opportunities to change the world are just too small.

    So rather than bringing us all together, The Big Society will actually push us further apart. Wealthy areas will do better, poor areas will do worse, and the gap will grow. Independent schools will venture off into their own curricula and their own ethos, and will inevitably isolate the children who attend them (by faith or by income). Rich areas will have libraries and university access, poor areas won't.

    So society will be come ever more fragmented and uneven, which is the opposite of what I genuinely believe Cameron wants. I don't distrust his instincts, I just think he's naive. Rather than bringing us together, The Big Society will ghettoise us.

    Mutualism works when everybody gets a (relatively) equal share. But successive governments since 1979 have been so certain of the infallability of a market economy that they've done nothing to close the gap between rich and poor. As a result, the starting point for The Big Society is that we're hugely unequal in terms of income and opportunity (and all the factors which accrue from poverty and hopelessness).

    The first step towards a Big Society must surely be to close that gap. That requires funding, but more than anything it requires government to accept that the market serves money, not people. Fixing society with a market simply won't work. Markets are about profits, society is about sharing - the antithesis of a profit.

    I'm going to be accused of being a communist or old-fashioned socialist. Which isn't true, I'm a believer in moderated capitalism. But I do recognise that no business "makes" money. Money isn't conjured out of the air by a business. Trading (of any kind) simply causes money to be reallocated from a customer to a supplier. So when banks talk about "making" billions of pounds for the economy, what they actually mean is that they move billions of pounds from our pockets into theirs, and then fail to pay full taxes on that money. It hurts us twice - we are robbed of the money, and we are robbed of the benefits that the taxation would bring us.

    Relying on banking to raise the economy out of recession will fail, because banks don't care about us - I'm not bank-bashing, it's just a fact that banking is mainly powered by computers which do automated trading, and computers can't think about the morality or social impact of what they do. They just chase immediate financial gain, nothing social, nothing long-term.

    So the government is making a fundamental mistake in cossetting the banks. In order to build a truly Big Society, the first step is to drag the poor up from poverty, and drag the super-rich down a few pegs. A progressive and fair tax system, which taxes banks at the same rate as any other business, would be a good first step.

    Once we're more equal, joining in the team game will make more sense to more people. And only then can The Big Society work.

  • Comment number 69.

    #40 88harriet10

    What Thatcher wrote was:
    "There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate."

    Just quoting the first sentence without the rest (and without trying to understand the full argument) will no doubt gain you rounds of applause from Labour supporters.

  • Comment number 70.

    Dave's please jump on my bandwagon event seemed to go fairly well. Plenty of 'social entrepreneurs' seem to see opportunities opening up before them. They can 'bid' for contracts to do socially useful things for much less. A sort of charitable privatisation. Who knows they might even be helping those put out of a job by their sense of social responsibility.

  • Comment number 71.

    The Big Society is a meaningless vacuous phrase. Torries and Cameron in particular think that because they say something it is true or it will happen. If the Big society means anything it means government action as govt is the only all encompassing body who can make us feel part of a whole. In order for there to be volunteers you need someone to s/v them and pay those supervisors. This is the bit that Cameron misses. I guess coming from Eton and a career in PR he just doesnt understand. BS stands for something else which i will not allude to here!

  • Comment number 72.

    I would be really suprised if this 'big society' concept ever becomes successful. I agree with the comments made about cuts in the CVS sector and how they undermine the concept. But there are further problems. The Idea relies on altruistic, responsible and pro-active behaviour by a substantial and diverse section of the population.

    However, many of the superwealthy in the country have already proven themselves to be quite the opposite of this description over many years. As for the general population, these qualities seem to have been eroded by the Labour governments policies, which encourage the idea of an 'all providing state' to the point where some communities are dependant on the state for almost everything. Meanwhile, they provided no incentive for self-improvement or the improvement of one's communities. Turning around this mindset will be difficult (especially in the current climate) and may take a long time....

  • Comment number 73.

    36

    No one said it was happening immediately - the cuts in local authority & central government spending are only about to happen - and the £100 M transitional funding is a recognition that there is going to be a gap between public and voluntary provision. This is not a left wing lie - it's from a Cabinet Office press release and the projected job loses from the Office for Budgetary Responsibility.

    http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/news/big-fund-deliver-new-%C2%A3100million-government-support-charities

    http://www.politics.co.uk/news/economy-and-finance/survey-unprecedented-job-losses-coming-$21387220.htm

    Education cannot be seen in isolation from the rest of life - and although you have a point to some extent about international comparisons, there has been a marked improvement in many areas with children improving their standards. Quite why it makes any sense to syphon off significant sums from existing schools to fund yet more ways to add to "Broken Britain" through for example religiously segregated "free" schools, is beyond me.

    As to the economic experiment - reality check - UK PLC owes £110 Bn - 10% of GDP. This is THE deficit - I'm not denying it.

    But neither am I denying the ASSET - £85 Bn of bank shares/loans that te previous government had to put in to the banks to stop the whole financial system collapsing, which is bringing in a large income - banks latest profits are estimated to be over £24 Bn, a good slice of which goes to HMG as a major sharehoder and covers most of the interest on our borrowing.

    You simply can't ignore this asset - if we sold off the shares and paid off the borrowing we'd be below 5% of GDP - one of the lowest levels of debt in the developed world - so to scream about debt crisis and it being essential to cut hundreds of thousands of public AND private jobs and so risk driving UK LC off the same cliff that the Irish government went over last month is, as you say a "dangerous economic experiment".

    Is this sufficient reasoned analyis for you?

    And I'd say that the only denial phase that is going on right now is the "Asset Denial" of public bank holdings, which the previous government had no choice but to finance caused by the credit crunch that started in the USA and had nothing to do with Blair, Brown or Darling.

  • Comment number 74.

    What really gets my proverbial goat is Cameron's blind, stubborn arrogance that it's "His" idea and that it will jolly well work, because he says so! Even though 99% of people in the voluntary sector say it won't work at a time of cuts to public spending - people who've been running the 'Big Society' back when it was called the 'Third Way' (under Blair) and long before that... people who quite frankly know their onions.

    But does he listen to them? Does he heck.

    Why? Because the 'Big Society' (let's just call it BS, shall we?) is not really about enabling and empowering citizens of the UK. It's a PR banner under which Cameron believes he can shrink the state and make everyone feel good about it. Big society, small state, same difference: the message is "if it goes wrong from hereon in, then it's your fault, dear citizens! You asked for power and you got it" - but did we really ask for this. I mean, really, did we?? If so, I must have been otherwise engaged when that consultation took place...

    Cameron's problem is that he's clearly overestimated people's gullibility. The magic trick hasn't worked - we've spotted the wires and the trapdoor - and now he's bungling around trying to hypnotise everyone to the contrary, including his own party.

    Facts and figures speak for themselves. Evidence shows that volunteering rises in proportion to public spending - in other words, the more we spend on public services, the more likely people are to volunteer to help run them. Volunteering does not = free labour. Only that's not how Dave sees it.

    But heh, who needs evidence when you have a big, shiny forehead, a charming smile that melts the hearts of Mail readers and a firm conviction in one's own personal mission to deliver a constant stream of BS. And rather pungent BS it is too; as though he's literally steaming at the mouth with determination.

    In short: keep going Dave, you're doing brilliantly! And yes here's some rope and a petard for you to play with while you're at it...

  • Comment number 75.

    "Anyone who wants to object with me, please feel free to do so."

    God........ where to start........?

  • Comment number 76.

    "Big Society" , "Big Cuts", Big Idea's. Perhaps the redundant armed forces and defence personel, will "whole heartedly" join in to man the charity shops. They may even want to man the empty libraries etc.

  • Comment number 77.

    Why not substitute the word 'public' for 'state', and understand it as meaning that which concerns us all? Hence, we erect a legal system, to manage social behaviour so that those who prefer to deviate from what is tacitly agreed to be proper, burglars, or fox hunters, say, get punished. The existence of armed forces suggest that we have common interests to be protected. It is not outlandish to imagine that 'public' could expand to cover, say, health, education and welfare: all the areas that are being so savagely cut.

    It can appear that the ultra-Thatcherite policies the Cameron government is implementing are intended to return this country to something like it was before the second World War. It has to be possible that it is so keen to use the word 'society' to dissociate itself from the toxicity that remains gathered around Thatcherism. So far it appears to be entirely vacuous. People do tend to muck in when it's necessary. I suspect that what 'Big Society' actually means is 'Every Hundred its own Workhouse', with the poors rates being raised locally, as they always were.

  • Comment number 78.

    "I think general cynicism means (sadly) people wont believe them"

    The Tories whilst in opposition ran a largely negative campaign attacking Government whenever they had the opportunity. Pity they didn't realise that deriding Government would come back to haunt them if / when they got into power.

  • Comment number 79.

    Carrying on providing First Class Public Services(Our NHS is the second overall ranking in the 2010 Ranking of Countries Healthcare, Crime Rate down by 45%, continue building more schools for our children etc etc)should be Bossy Cameron's first and foremost mission in life, instead of wasting precious time relaunching his "Big Society" project. It is human nature to give free time to their community whenever they can. This has been going on for 2000 years. Sadly, there are many people who cannot afford to work for FREE. It is insulting and patronizing to try to hoodwink us in believing that "Big Society" is not a cover for rolling back the functions of the state.

  • Comment number 80.

    just like John Majors "Cones Hotline" this is totally useless unless backed with investment......wrong time wrong idea!!

  • Comment number 81.

    It seems to me along with "We are all in it together" the big society only applies to some. The big society is asking us poor & middle peeps to take a hit in our living standards due to cuts, no pay rises and loss of your job. So you can don you overall and get stuck in and help out with Dunkirk spirit in your underpants. How ever "Call Me Dave" will never get this big society going until he doesn't something about the multinational companies that are allowed by this and successive Governments to rip us off left,right & center. Everything from Banks, Insurance, Pensions, Utility companies etc just fleece us without fear from Government, Regulators. So until Mr Dave gets us "All Init Together" he can stick his "Big Society" up his university back side. Its seems only the little people are ripe for the picking and the rich and mainly feckless can sit on the edge of society watching us like the little ants that they want us to be. When I see a group of bankers running little old ladies to the day centre once a month in their BMW's then I might pitch in. I think I'm safe for now.

  • Comment number 82.

    From a publicly available online Freedom of Information released document supplied by Carlton Communications to the DCMS :

    "David has been Head of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications PLC since September 1994. He is responsible for investor relations, press and public affairs. Key responsibilities include presenting Carlton's activities and businesses to shareholders and other investing institutions; preparing Carlton's responses to regulatory and legislative issues and press handling..."

    Why does he need a director of communications when he could volunteer to save us money by doing the job himself ?

    Secondly, why with all this experience is he having difficulty putting his idea across ?

  • Comment number 83.

    The horse is dead. Cameron should stop flogging it.

    There's nothing wrong to trying to create a more caring society where people take more responsibility - but a "BIG" Society is meaningless. If Cameron had offered better defined policies at the last election, he probably would have won outright, given Labour's unpopularity. But he threw it away with wishy-washy platitudes. Instead of learning from his mistakes, Cameron continues on the same course.

    What most people understand by 'Big Society' is savage cuts to frontline services, with Cameron hoping that charities and volunteers will pick up the slack.

    Cameron also talks of giving more power to Local Authorities. However, most people know that Council are a large part of the problem - not the solution. Councils waste vast amounts of money and don't listen to what people want.

    The 'Big Society' is Cameron's 'Cones Hotline'.

  • Comment number 84.

    Where are people supposed to find time and energy for all this volunteering? We work the longest hours in Europe and have the least holidays, our public transport system is crap and many people spend hours of frustration on it every day just getting to and from work...

    What have Cameron and his Eaton mates done for the big society? What percentage of their incomes do they contribute to charity? How many hours a week do they spend working for free?

    I thought so.

    So much rubbish from the elites.

  • Comment number 85.

    As far as I understand it, the main concept behind the Big Society, is to return to the Victorian era, where many of the things that are essential to our society, were only available to the rich, or via local philanthropists and charities for everyone else. Libraries, museums, art galleries, schools, hospitals, doctors, scientific research and to a certain extent housing are examples of such services . The philanthropists and charities were however unable to serve everyone that needed it, and so in due course the responsibility was taken up by government.
    This uptake was largely driven by a small number of activists, such as Charles Dickens who shamed the powers that be into taking action to remedy the catastrophic consequences of the incompleteness of coverage of health care, education etc.
    Many modern charities were set up because there was insufficient support for their cause by the government, to act as a pressure group to promote their cause, and in many cases this has led to government taking up the burden to some extent.
    Now dear David wants us to return to a Victorian way of doing things.
    Fear not, he cries, we will fund the charities to do this work for us. Great, but how long before such funding becomes target for cuts, which can be made up for by 'efficiency savings' by the charities?
    Why not also return to Victorian times and values for such things as votes for women,criminal penalties etc. We can have public hangings again, we can transport criminals to remote domains such as St. Helena, or the Falklands, which will save huge amounts of money from the prisons' budget. We can reinstate the workhouses for the indolent work shy masses. We can reinstate debtors prisons, and disenfranchise those who do not own land, so that the electorate is made up of only the deserving. Britain can once again be Great Britain ( or should it be Big Britain), where the ruling elite are shown proper respect, and the masses know their place and tug their forelocks on meeting their betters.
    Not for me thank you. I have spent most of my life working in my spare time for charitable causes, and even now, though my only source of income is the state pension, give by standing order to charities.
    Charity is not a matter for political parties to play with. It is one of the highest expressions of our humanity, and should not be hijacked for political ends, or used as a mask for draconian cuts in public services.

  • Comment number 86.

    I'd be glad to see the Government lead the way and volunteer their services to the nation by waiving their wages for the next 3 years and living on the good will of the big society. Although from my understanding of our society at the moment we have roughly 8million volunteers standing by who would seem to be ideal for getting involved as they have plenty of time on their hands. Although the Government clearly thinks we need more of them by getting rid of more jobs to free up more happy volunteers.

  • Comment number 87.

    For someone as supposedly bright as he is, DC really seems to be struggling to articulate what the BS is. This unfortunately leaves the rest of us to 'fill-in' what we THINK he means and of course allow the media/opposition to have a field day. What I THINK he is driving at is that society/community is disengaged, that multiculturalism is driving wedges between groups and that we need a set of values (and responsibilities) that the nation (society) can get behind. Values & responsibilities that can apply to each of us, man, woman & child that can only serve to bring us together. Come on DC put us out of our misery let us know EXACTLY what you mean here !!

  • Comment number 88.

    If Big Society volunterism is so good can we see Cameron and his millionaire front bench working for free too? After all they do not need the money do they? Being a volunteer working for free is OK for others but not for Cameron right? In intelligent society this is called hypocrisy.

  • Comment number 89.

    59.

    I suspect that most of the villians in my stories weren't Tories - indeed at least one of them was a Labour councillor, now I recall - cheap shots I'm afraid Fubar...

    I've met some pretty decent Tories - people who cared for their communities and wanted the best for them. My point is this - the ways we can organise society's needs all have their pluses and minuses - and at a time when there is a plan to significntly change this, we need to consider not only the positives, but the negatives too - I've just listed some of them from personal experience.

    Charities have a checkered track record - some are good, others criminal - to pretend that this is the panacea to all our problems is a nonsense.

    And what I mean by a "decent society" is one that cares for the weakest, provides opportunity for the able and expects and encourages people to take personal responsibility for themselves. Fraud, child abuse and incompetence should not be hard wired into the system - IMHO, that's what "The Big Society" is in danger of doing based on my experiences of life - of course there are plenty of wonderful things that the voluntary sector achieves that we should all support.

  • Comment number 90.

    Big Society...well I have been doing my bit for many years supporting both my local ambulance service as a voluntary responder and also the Patients Association but it cuts both ways Prime Minister! I have just given up my self employed status (NHS)deciding to return to an employed scenario because it just seemed that everything was set up to make you fail! Well I registered for Job Seekers Allowance for the very first time and soon realised why many people don't bother. I felt that having been a 35 year contributor to the government coffers I was entitled however some four weeks on and I am still waiting to receive a penny! My new job starts at the begining of the month and I cannot wait but when I have it I will give up or my voluntary work in absolute protest.This big idea will pitch Charity against Charity, loose countless frontline public service roles and probably result in me being accosted by more than a dozen people asking for money as I go from my car to the local Post Office (x) sorry that closed, Library(x) going to, Hospital(x), downgraded....i think you get what I am saying!

  • Comment number 91.

    I'm amazed half you lot can get off the khazi without the state being there to help you. So short-sighted, none of you can find the Andrex...

  • Comment number 92.

    80 wrote:

    just like John Majors "Cones Hotline" this is totally useless unless backed with investment......wrong time wrong idea!!

    ----

    Hey Man, don't knock it, the Cones Hotline was a great idea! I phoned them up once to tell them I've found some cones. 40,000 of them on the M40!

  • Comment number 93.

    "#63. At 11:49am on 14 Feb 2011, johnharris66 wrote:
    #7 sturdyblog

    Monbiot's article was nonsense.

    If you are interested why (you are, aren't you?) you can click my user name and scroll down my previous blog entries."

    Thanks John. I am interested and I had a look.

    As I explain in my own article, the Monbiot piece was only the starting point. I read the relevant legislation myself, the minutes of the working group and all relevant explanations and OECD papers.

    Nowhere is it explained why these provisions include countries which are outside any reciprocal tax treaties. There is no country other than Switzerland that has such arrangements. If you think this is an accident, considering the interests involved, then I'm afraid you are being naive.

  • Comment number 94.

    "From the moment he became party leader he spoke of decontaminating the Tory brand."

    He's now had nine months during which he's proved over and over again that they are more toxic and dangerous than any of us ever imagined. He used to talk a lot about the broken society. That was a convenient PR fiction at the time. But that's the stuff he actually believes in. Breaking our society and stamping on the pieces. Toxic toxic toxic.

  • Comment number 95.

    In order to get 'the big society' working Cameron has to do several things he will find impossible...
    a) Scrap all these stupid police checking rules on people doing voluntary work. Frankly the number of paedophiles etc. caught this way is small, if we locked child rapists up sensibly those we know about wouldn't be out and about to abuse, those we don't know about won't be caught by these checks. Working as part of a small rugby club we have considered setting up youth and even helping with school rugby, but the checks and paperwork are just too much for us to sustain. That is despite a reasonable number of us being either active or qualified teachers and having crb checks etc. for other things!
    b) Sort out the current sue for everything culture. If someone trips over a paving slab the first thing they do is reach for a 'no win no fee' lawyer. They don't consider whether perhaps they should look where they are going. The problem with this is that it leads to a situation where everyone must have billions of insurance cover for everything, which means no one dare do anything. When I was a kid the GWR society let children on the foot plate of locos, the Pendon museum installed a step for children to see the layout, the local steam museum would let kids climb on the traction engine to have a look - none of this is now possible incase the kid might hurt themselves - no one, but NO one was ever seriously injured or killed by these activities, and lots and lots of kids (including myself) got enjoyment, excitement, interest in science and engineering and motivation from this type of thing.
    c) Massively cut back police and local authorities along with their joint powers. This might seem a strange thing to suggest but look at the interferance from both in all manner of event organisation. Tried organising a village fete or carnival recently? The hoops you have to jump through are ridiculous, this is why few places bother any more.

  • Comment number 96.

    Ive got an idea that is far more pertinent and valid than the vacuousness of the Big Society.
    The current government are one of the more obvious examples of people in power being out of touch with the governed. I suggest to be in government, to make decisions affecting everyone's lives you have to be a recipient of those services. Now thats what i call a big society. So Cameron/Osbourne need to send all their children to state school or they cannot cut spending. They need to use the NHS and libraries and at least have some conception of what its like to be out of work and claiming benefits. This government have no idea.

  • Comment number 97.

    91:

    Fubar, there are quite a few people who actually can't "get off the khazi without the state being there to help", as you so gracefully put it, because they're ill. These are the people who need the services we're talking about here.

  • Comment number 98.

    I get ever more frustrated and, I must admit, distracted from the point at hand, by some of the class war drivel on these boards. Why are the majority of references to Cameron preceded or followed by some sort of derogatory term like "while sipping port" or "spiv" or "plumb nosed". I also take offense to the suggestion that being a Tory voter makes me small hearted - again, nonsense.

    It just drags the discussion into the gutter and doesn't actually get us anywhere.

    To my point - howls of "Bash the Bankers" - it’s not fair they get paid so much - we should tax them 90% etc etc.

    There is something people always forget here - these people are extremely heavily taxed (Before people enlighten me I do realise that they still bring home well in excess of the average salary) they pay 52% straight out, they get taxed on pensions, their kids get penalised on University entrance because as parents they are wealthy and a variety of other exclusions against free services and . . . . you know why . . . because they dared to be successful.

    The left should stop moaning about what other people have and think “actually I might stand up and get that for myself” - all part of the Big Society Idea.

    Just to cut off any suggestion that I had a silver spoon upbringing – I didn’t. Dad’s a copper, mums a teacher and I went to a state secondary – I got a degree and now earn a very nice wage thank you very much and I am getting increasingly vexed a whopping chunk of top slice being taken away and handed out like sweets under the guise of “progressive” taxation.

    Its abou time people were encouraged to get up and earn, succeed - don’t take or expect to be given for once, thats what he means, Big Society not state spoon feeding.

  • Comment number 99.

    "And what I mean by a "decent society" is one that cares for the weakest, provides opportunity for the able and expects and encourages people to take personal responsibility for themselves."

    Look back on a certain often ridiculed and misquoted quote from the early 1980s and see the similarities....

    "the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate."

    I'm afraid your desire, as much as you share it with the Gargoyle Of Grantham is dead in the water, Richard. If the contributors on here are anything to go by, half of them would probably step over you in the street and the other half would probably pick your pocket before stepping over you in the street (bound to be Tories, naturally, before one of Pavlov's useful idiots chimes in with that particular soundbite....).

    Nobody gives a monkeys for anyone any more unless theres something in it for them or unless the state does it for them. They know their rights, y'see. Responsibilities are what other people have, particularly those who owe them compensation. What was once nation that achieved so much is now a pathetic, shambling, self-serving embarrassment.

  • Comment number 100.

    The Tory party are the political wing of the banking industry

 

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