The Curmudgeon


Monday, July 19, 2010

The Big Society and its Enemies

Daveybloke, the Cuddly Conservative, has had a bit of a burble about this Big Society thingy with which he hopes to liberate us all from the curse of Westminster micro-management. Daveybloke admitted that his Big Society thingy is "not a cover for anything", which is true enough. Indeed, Daveybloke's Big Society thingy is a bit on the thin and transparent side even to qualify as a pretext.

In the great man's own words, Daveybloke's Big Society thingy is "the biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power from elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street", who will need something to do when they are thrown out of work, otherwise they will just lounge around making a mess of the lawn. Daveybloke's Big Society thingy is a thingy that will "foster and support a new culture of voluntarism, philanthropy, social action" or, in Standard English, rein in the sordid mercenary instincts of qualified workers in the hated public sector by forcing less qualified people to do their jobs for free. Daveybloke's Big Society thingy is a thingy that will "get rid of the centralised bureaucracy that wastes money and undermines morale" or, in Standard English, remove all those nasty regulations that enforce things like workplace safety at the expense of hard-working employers whose children are so often to be seen begging in our broken British streets. Daveybloke's Big Society thingy is a thingy that will "create communities with oomph", provided the said oomph does not result in protest marches about the Government's attacks on the education system and the National Health Service or its donation of the BBC to the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Richard Desmond. Daveybloke's Big Society thingy is a thingy that will create "neighbourhoods who are in charge of their own destiny", and jolly interesting it will be the first time one of Daveybloke's chums decides that this particular neighbourhood's destiny is to be swept away to make room for a shopping mall, an airport or a PFI hyperclinic full of general practitioners turned part-time accountants. Daveybloke's Big Society thingy is a thingy that will make neighbourhoods feel that "if they club together and get involved they can shape the world around them", short of actual parliamentary democracy, abolishing Trident or repairing the school roof. Among other thingies, Daveybloke's Big Society thingy appears to be a thingy that will replace hard-working families with Neighbourhoods of Destiny. It is not as yet clear whether this will be an improvement.

For Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Tessa Jowell, sometime associate of a beneficiary of Silvio Berlusconi's charity, responded to Daveybloke's flurry of euphemistic vacuities by asserting that Labour agreed with the whole programme and had already put most of it in place. The Lower Miliband has accused the Government of cynically dressing up its Thatcherite agenda in cuddly progressive language; this trick stopped working for New New Labour some time ago and the Lower Miliband does not see why it should be permitted to work for the Conservatives. He also made the bizarre assertion that "under the Tories the voluntary sector's role will be shrunk, not expanded". Well, hardly. A man who has fought his way to the top the way Daveybloke has - by having the intelligence, initiative and force of character to be born rich - is not likely to underestimate the value of the voluntary sector. Volunteering is useful, character-forming and gives the little woman something to do when she's finished dealing with the servants. If only more people volunteered, instead of wasting time and resources agitating for work which is better outsourced and wages which are better spent by Lord Ashcroft, the world would be a happier place. What will be shrunk is not the role of the voluntary sector, but the amount of money the voluntary sector receives in order to help it compensate for the holes George Osborne proposes to rip in the welfare safety net. Prayers, oomph and Neighbourhoods of Destiny will have to serve instead.


  • At 8:30 am , Blogger Consider Everything said...

    I expect that Big Society will expand into Europe in the next months, similar to burka bans etc.

  • At 8:41 pm , Blogger Philip said...

    Nonsense. Our Minister for Britishness has already stated that burka bans are un-British; partly because they are something the French do, and partly because they would be at odds with the tolerant, mutually respectful society we hope to build by turning our children's education over to gay-bashing, woman-hating moral absolutists.


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