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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Windbag or saviour?


Mr Cameron's Big Society is under the spotlight again (Photo: Getty)

Back in the news is the Big Society. As a former communications man one would have thought that the Prime Minister would be able to put over his big idea with the utmost clarity but people still struggle with it. Could it be that it is all wind and no substance? I thought Cameron's interview with the BBC's political editor revealing in the sense that Nick Robinson asked tougher questions than usual suggesting that even he, a former President of the Oxford University Conservative Association, had doubts. The government were simply  washing their hands of responsibility by letting local councils take the flack after starving them of the funds needed to make the project work. 

People at the local level are being played off against each other as the Prime Minister claims that in a "grown up society" people have to make tough decisions but empowerment is not that simple. Ministers keep reminding us that it is going to be a tough year. The elderly have been hit particularly hard by inflation, shrinking pensions and erosion of savings but how much worse for the young unemployed with little or no prospect of work, fuelling fears of a lost generation. The current inflation rate of 4% is double that of the Bank of England's target rate of 2% making life even more difficult for many while the few carry on regardless. Barclay's today announced profits of £6.1 billion increasing pay packages by 20% despite reduced bonuses.

In his interview with Nick Robinson, the prime Minister let slip that it was not the previous government who dropped us in the mess but bankers. With an army of unemployed left roaming boarded-up streets in the Big (divided) Society there could there be big trouble ahead.  Oak trees from acorns grow.


Postscript


Thanks to Charon QC (see Blog list) I've just picked up this video of Francis Maudethe Minister responsible for pushing the Big Society, explaining his contribution. Brilliant! One comment suggested the the clip had been doctored so you can see a fuller version here. Well at least he goes to church.

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