Monday, 19 July 2010

DC Launches BS

"And this is how small I want the state to be."

So, it has actually happened. The most mental idea of the whole election campaign is actually being launched.

When David Cameron first introduced us to The Big Society at the Conservative Party manifesto launch, it was the moment that gave me hope that Labour could snatch victory from the deep blue jaws of defeat. And how he tried to pass this off as his great idea. It was like the Obama community organising heritage, he claimed. The Conservative Party website section about The BS even name-drops the father of modern community organising, Saul Alinsky. Some I've listened to even compare The BS to David Miliband's recent Movement for Change initiative; an initiative championed by Keir.

Cameron said that the BS will be, "the biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power from elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street". BS indeed. The BS is not a redistribution of power; it is a redistribution of workload. What David Miliband wants people to do, what groups like CitizensUK do, what Barack Obama did, was organise people to hold the state to account.

DC says, "Don't like your hospital? Build a sodding new one then."

DM says, "Don't like your hospital? Organise your people and make the authorities give you the hospital you deserve".

Spot the not-so-subtle difference.

As people's public services start to collapse, The BS will be shown up for what it is. It will allow the rich to flourish just like the "free schools" experiment, one of the flagship areas of The BS policy programme, allowed only the rich to prosper in Sweden and only served to widen the gap in attainment between the wealthy and the poor. When funding is cut from people's services in poor parts of the country, and they are told "you sort it out, because we're not forking out for it", the BS will come undone.

The BS is not grassroots power. It is not politics from below. It is politics from the suburbs. Not politics by the unemployed, but politics by those who don't need to be employed. Not politics by the affected, but politics by the affluent.


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