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Daily View: Verdicts on the Big Society relaunch

Clare Spencer | 10:15 UK time, Monday, 14 February 2011

David Cameron


Commentators give their verdicts on David Cameron's relaunch of the Big Society concept.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon defines Big Society in his blog:

"The Big Society says social capital - the glue that strengthens community - and binds communities together - is as important as economic capital. You can't have one without the other. Capitalism works best with strong communities."

Labour MP Paul Flynn says in his blog that the new Tory dream has "sunk into a nightmare":

"Savagely cut charities are told to persuade those sacked by the Government to work for nothing. Heroes of compassionate work will by redesigned as Cameron's foot solders. He seeks the crown as the inspirer of all voluntary work. The dream is unattainable."

Conservative MP John Redwood argues in his blog that the Big Society concept will only take off if David Cameron manages to persuade the public it could work:

"If the Big Society arrives to delegate power to local groups and to front line public service employees, it could help deliver better value public service and be part of public service reform.
"The latest challenge to the approach is for opponents to claim that public service reform and the development of localism and the Big Society all require substantial injections of Whitehall cash. The government has to reject this convincingly and show it is not true. Otherwise public service reform and Big Society growth get in the way of deficit reduction."

Conversely the Guardian's Jackie Ashley says David Cameron should give up on trying to resuscitate Big Society as it "cannot emerge from the 'creative destruction' of the state":

"The big society is out there, a vague but powerful notion, related to our deep desire to help our neighbours and be part of something greater than our own payslips - but it is an idea that properly belongs to the centre-left, not to the right. For now, the best advice to David Cameron would be to stop the endless relaunches and listen to those inside the coalition government who are telling him that by cutting too far and too fast he is endangering any sense of a bigger society."

The Daily Mail's Peter McKay thinks the Big Society is just "spin with nobs on":

"Cameron would like us to think the Big Society characterises his modern Conservative Party - a new, kinder world in which we all pull together for the common good, without always looking for personal reward.
"But the true Tory character was revealed at its Black and White Party last week, in which five 'internships' at City banks were auctioned to wealthy Conservative-supporting parents for their children, with the £14,000 raised going to Tory funds."

Links in full
David Cameron | Guardian | Have no doubt, the big society is on its way
Robert Halfon's blog | Three short ways of Defining The Big Society
Paul Flynn's blog | Big society implodes
John Redwood's blog | Strategy and tactics
Jackie Ashley | Guardian | A big society cannot emerge from the destruction of the state
Peter McKay | Daily Mail | Big Society? It's just spin with nobs on

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