There is no (Big) Society?

24 Jan 2011 by Karl Hallam

In what may or may not be a co-ordinatedmove (sorted before Coulson left?) there are some friends suggesting a problemwith the Big Society initiative. The PM's Director of Strategy and Red Tory and Cameron's 'muse' Phillip Blond are asking difficult quesitons. Is this thefirst sign of a tactical retreat?

According to a Society bulletin the Times report that "Steve Hilton, the prime minister's director of strategy, has privately made clear his worries that the Big Society message is being drowned out by Labour and cash-starved charities that are defining his project in a negative light."

Matthew Taylor (Blair's director of strategy) comments on the Times story that  says that Blond is frustrated by the lack of mutualism in the BS initiative and ponders whether No.10 will or will not be surprised to see this story. Matthew has the scars of the falling to bits of another 'big' idea, the also capitalised Big Conversation. He and the RSA, like Cadence, have been BS optimists to date and remain so, but the drip, drip of scepticism will dampen enthusiasm eventually.

It would not hurt if the most relevant Cabinet member seemed to believe in it, but Eric Pickles appetite does not seem to stretch to BS do far, even if you'd have thought it was crucial if his localism and cuts recipe was to not end in anything other than acrimony between the centre and Town Halls.

Of course lots of third sector organisations and individuals will be blissfully unaware of these kind of debates that are the obsession of the liberal elite twitteratti. Should they be? Here at Cadence we think that is important that such organisations understand and are connected,  so that they can share and be supported. That is a lot of what we do and our clients appear to value it. If the BS idea were to be dropped a lot of them will have feel that they have sort of been led up the garden path ...

  

 

 

 

 

your comments

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Tom B
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Not so Red Tory?
Reply #1 on : Tue January 25, 2011, 10:36:43
I've been suspecting for a while now that Phillip Blond probably won't be happy with Coalition policy, not because of the Big Society initiative per se, but because it comes alongside a raft of neo-liberal, pro-market policies. Blond is a 'Red' Tory because he's critical of the way overbearing markets damage community life, just as he's critical of the overbearing state. What we have is a government willing to talk up the Big Society and the importance of community and voluntary action, while simultaneously slashing public spending, championing privatisation and failing to do anything to really bolster small businesses, revolutionise corporate governance and ownership models or recapitalise communities. This just looks like Thatcherism + talking up the importance of community action, not the revolution that a fuller implementation of Blond's ideas would have been. It's not the Big Society that worries me, it's the absence of what should have come with it.

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