Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Big Society

In today's Daily Telegraph, Peter Osborne, their chief political commentator, writes about David Cameron's "Big Society" and concludes that if it collapses, so will David Cameron.
Personally, I feel the name "Big Society" actually puts most people off. It smacks of "Big Brother", and I find it difficult to understand why someone like David Cameron, with his experience in PR, should have come up with this name for his concept. Indeed the name seems totally at odds with what I understand he is trying to achieve.
What most of us want is the exact opposite, The Small Society! We want local decisions to be made locally. We want the Parish Council, or possibly the District Council, to make the decision as to whether Tescbury can build a local supermarket, not some civil servant in Whitehall. The only time Whitehall should become involved is when it is a matter of national interest involving a large number of councils,  such as the new (and largely unwanted) high speed railway to the Midlands.
But the name Big Society gives the exact opposite impression - the little man won't have a say because the Big Society needs something different and its needs are paramount.
In any case, Big Government has rarely ever given up any powers voluntarily, which is why the "one in, one out" proposal for regulations has totally failed. I remember all the arguments against the abolition of food rationing after the war - it would be a disaster; there would be massive shortages and only the rich would be able to eat as prices rose in a free market - I remember my parents being worried. But what happened? Shortages for maybe a couple of weeks and then a surplus. The same with the abolition of Exchange Control - the country will go bankrupt if people are allowed to take their own money and spend it abroad!
We need a "Small Society" and the removal of huge swathes of regulation and we are going to get a "Big Society" with even more regulation.
I hope Cameron does fail, and if, as Peter Osborn believes, this means that he gets thrown out, so much the better.

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