"..a bardy view!"

The Big Society….

How big is it and how many will play the game?

"The Big Society" raised it's head during the UK election campaign and like a withering candle was promptly snuffed out. It didn't capture the imagination of the electorate, and although it didn't destroy the Conservative campaign either, it surely dented it, and may have been instrumental in the advent of a coalition government.

The concept has now resurfaced, but what does it mean? Nobody really knows. But it has something to do with the decentralising of government, returning power to local authorities and communities, and giving more control to the citizen.

Critics argue that it is the Big Con, a ploy to cut the debt, and a ruse to reduce the number of public and civil servants by replacing them with a volunteer workforce.

Sections of the electorate have remarked that when they voted for the tories they didn't expect to be doing all the work for them as well.

If the notion that people will be more active and take interest in the community around them, then surely it is a good thing. The culture which has developed over the years, particularly influenced by the last Labour government, is that the state will provide and impact on every area of life. The state became a behemoth that was expected to solve every problem, and created laws to replace common sense, individual responsibility and duty.

Because the power was taken away from the citizen, the citizen likewise chose not to get involved. They would cross the road instead of helping a fellow in distress, they would avoid altercation for fear of being on the wrong side of the law; they would not volunteer in schools, hospitals or charities for being branded as paedophiles or perverts, and they would not spend fees on criminal record checks just to prove they had never done anything wrong, or were a danger to society.

The state was all powerful, and recruited more and more workers to administer the monster. Society became unsociable. The proliferation of "Big Brother"cameras watching every movement, meant that faceless individuals could impose fines with impunity.

The police no longer could exercise discretion by interaction with the public, but became distant, all monitoring, unfeeling state enforcers. They lost their primary purpose and lost the confidence of the very people they served.

Peacock strutting officials like traffic wardens, environmental control officers, noise abatement officers etc were empowered with inflated self-importance with dictatorial powers granted by demigod councils.

Bureaucracy was out of control, and the army of pen-pushers was growing. Something had to change.

It is the change which scares people. But maybe this is the opportunity to restore sanity.

Under the last government thousands of libraries, post offices and pubs disappeared. All of them vital to the cohesion of communities.

If the "Big Society" means that well meaning and experienced people could move in and keep them alive, then surely that is a good thing. Surely its better to have a library manned for two days a week by volunteers, be they retired or unemployed, than to lose them altogether?

I don't buy the negative argument from the unions and others that this is an excuse to get rid of jobs.

I support the "Big Society" because there will be no excuse for welfare benefit couch potatoes to sit on their arses doing nothing. I support it because there are thousands of people who are unable to find a job but still want the chance to contribute to society and be active.

I support it because there is an untapped resource of qualified people whose skills are going to waste which can be utilised in their community. I support it because it will set examples to those who don't want to do anything.

Yes it will have a rocky passage, but the alternative was the status quo, or God forbid, five more years of Labour.

That is a prospect that would have finished Great Britain for good.


July 19, 2010 - Posted by | Culture, Education, General, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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