"When a man is on his own, an individual responsible for himself, he must earn a character - a personal character that is perhaps his first necessity. Others may then learn and imitate his qualities and capabilities. In a planned society he has no need of a character, for no such thing is wanted."
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy."
Sir Ernest Benn
According to the website of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) apparently the Big Society is the Government's vision of a society where individuals and communities have more power and responsibility, and use it to create better neighbourhoods and local services. It also states that David Cameron said that the people are the boss. The Big Society Network proclaims on its website that only 4 out of 10 of us believe we can influence local decisions; that only 1 in 33 of us attend public meetings; that anger and frustration is felt at the recent behaviour of both the City and Westminster and that we feel relatively powerless to change them.
We are informed by the DCLG that dedicated teams of civil servants will be allocated to 'ease' the progress of any Big Society venture. An alternative - and realistic - take on this comes from Goodnight Vienna (Calling England) who states that it is:
".....about state-sponsored training of community volunteers and "social entrepreneurs". This isn't localism or power to the people, it's another layer of state-funded bureacracy and interference between the people and those whom they elect to govern. It's a further distancing from the unelected and unreachable powers-that-be in Brussels. It's Red Tories, the Third Way, Agenda 21 and communitarianism writ large."
In his speech today David Cameron stated that our society is broken and that we need to fix it; that he will not back down because the Big Society is here to stay. This begs the immediate question of who it was that broke our society in the first place with their premeditated ideas of social engineering - an ideology the Big Society seems determined to further?
If David Cameron really does believe the people are the boss, then will he - as a servant of the people - stop dictating to us how we are to live our lives? If he wishes to improve the ratio of people who believe they can influence local decisions then perhaps he will really devolve the responsibility for areas such as health, education and law & order to local communities - which would serve to concentrate local councillor's minds and make them 'earn their keep', whilst at the same time energising the people's interest in politics.
The Big Society is presented as 'bottom-up' government when it is, in reality, continuance of the present 'top-down' system of government. As Goodnight Vienna states, if Cameron has his way we will all be in this together and with a Common Purpose as the overriding factor!