Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The Not So Big As You Imagined Society

One of the great fallacies/thought farts of this election has been Cameron's idea of the "Big Society", which basically translates as: "should you have any problems, it's not our fault, you're on your own kiddo."

This is politicians abdicating responsibility, giving up on The State. It harks back in the most transparent way to Thatcher, whose genius was to somehow convince the British electorate that, even after unemployment had reached 3 million, it wasn't the State's place to intervene.

And if you don't believe me, how about this from the Times, not usually the most Labour-friendly of papers:

"If the Conservatives get in, Osborne will be overseeing the biggest spending squeeze since 1945 as they engage in their traditional pastime of scaling back the welfare state. Over the decades, the main task of any Tory administration has been to come up with a new, euphemistic way of describing how it will scale back the welfare state. Cameron's pop is the coining of the phrase 'Big Society'. Big Society, charities and voluntary organisations will, apparently, step in and pick up the slack in areas where once the welfare state existed.

For anyone wondering if this might work, Cameron's former tutor at Oxford, Vernon Bognador, appeared to explain:

"That is the philosophy of the 19th century," he said, briskly. "What does 'Big Society' really mean? That if you become destitute the Salvation Army will step in? It doesn't work. That's why we invented the State."

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