Sunday, 20 February 2011

Beware of a politician with a ‘mission.’

It’s that man again, David Cameron I mean, some time Prime Minister and full time evangelist for the ‘big society.’

This week he’s been out and about banging the drum for his pet project telling anyone who would listen and a lot of people who didn’t want to listen that the ‘big society is here to stay’, because it is his .mission in politics. It’s what I want us as a country to build and I’m going to fight for it every day.’

He told the press on Monday that he wanted the story of his government not just to be about ‘an economic recovery;’ fat chance of that Dave given soaring inflation levels and 2.5 million people out of work. He wanted, he said eyes alight with messianic fervour it to be a story about ‘social recovery too’, because as he has told we anyone who dares to doubt him before ‘our society is broken and we need to fix it- and the big society will help us to do that.’

Can NOBODY make this man see sense? Didn’t he even the smallest twinge of doubt when Dame Elizabeth Hoodless with forty years experience with the organisation Community Service Volunteers walked away from the project because she felt it to be fuzzy and lacking in direction?

Seemingly not, if there is a still small voice at the back of Citizen Dave’s mind telling him what he’s saying might just be nonsense it is pretty much drowned out by the bellowing of his ego.

I’d like to have been able to take our esteemed leader to the meeting attended by community campaigners from across my home town I went to one night last week, he might have learnt much that was useful from what they had to say about the ‘big society’ and its ever more deranged contradictions.

I wish he could have heard them talk about the funding on which their groups depend being cut to the bone by the same government that talks breezily about the voluntary sector stepping in to replace public services that are about to be cut. These aren’t wealthy people, most have made significant sacrifices for the good of their community; they’re good Samaritans and any society deserving of the name should applaud and support them, not trip them up as they cross the road to help those less fortunate than themselves.

I’d like David Cameron to have heard what they had to say, but I doubt very much that he would have listened. He shows every sign of being that most dangerous of things, a politician with a ‘mission’, but little or no idea how the other half live.

Nobody could make a realistic case for continuing with the bureaucratic, top down method by which New Labour dealt with local communities, civil servants based in London are notoriously unable to understand or respond to the needs of people in the wider country, but Cameron’s ‘big society’ is a disaster built on foundations of pure nonsense.

A few communities, notably those inhabited by the sort of people Dave and Sam Cam have round to dinner might benefit from the big society because they have the skills and the confidence to take over services threatened with closure. Poorer people living in communities will not be so lucky, they will find themselves at the mercy of the sort of ‘charity’ that predated the welfare state, handed out in an arbitrary fashion by authorities dedicated to keeping people firmly in their place.

I have always supported giving disadvantaged people greater agency in transforming their communities, after all they often know best what is needed to do so, but the ‘big society’ will not deliver on this. It is a dangerously misconceived project led by a vain man; it should be stopped before it does serious harm.

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