The Big Society

Lord Soley

Clearly there is a problem for David Cameron on the cuts in relation to the big society but a more complex problem is ‘what does it actually mean’? If it is more than contracting out some local authority or government services to voluntary organisations, co-ops etc via a new bank then we need to know the detail. If it is contracting out then the funding becomes crucial and so you come back to the cuts.

I am in favour of co-ops  – I can even remember our co-op dividend number from childhood! However I somtimes think that in the absence of  ideology politics often falls back on ‘big ideas’. The problem with big ideas is that the electorate tend to judge us on delivery and the economy. Big ideas don’t win elections so prove me wrong Mr cameron!

23 comments for “The Big Society

  1. Baroness Murphy
    Baroness Murphy
    14/02/2011 at 2:10 pm

    My mother’s co-op number was Long Eaton 26346. Once a year we went on the bus to collect the ‘divi’ from the main co-op in Long Eaton, a treat of a trip a fair ride away, which was then put towards various treats. There was a co-op at both ends of our road, you could say it had a monopoly of everyday shopping in my corner of the world.

    But I do think there is something in a lot of the ideas behind the Big Society. We have become so used to the state and local authorities providing every community service that we have ceased to engage with people who might do it better if supported. I agree it needs to be fleshed out with some concrete examples but I’m all for giving it a go.

  2. Lord Blagger
    14/02/2011 at 2:32 pm

    The problem is that, we are still going to be taxed for the big state and all its debts.

    That doesn’t leave the cash for the ‘big society’.

    The cause, profligate spending and fraudulent accounting by the government. No control by the Lords there. No revisions. Just part of the problem.

  3. Carl.H
    14/02/2011 at 3:14 pm

    What it means is cutting the number of Police on our streets and handing greater authority to others such as Headteachers, see the Education Bill. This abhorrent, objectionable and will cause problems.

    Teachers will be allowed to physically search those of an opposite sex, alone using urgent ruling and lots more. This is not allowed even by Police.

    The handing over of authority which is greater than that of our existing authorities is not “Big Society”. All this Government are doing is trying to get things done on the cheap without the necessary failsafes. The Government concept of big society is basically the same as Conservative policy has always been that big business makes the rules.

    All eyes on Egypt ! Quick slip this in:

  4. Twm O'r Nant
    14/02/2011 at 3:27 pm

    Have you got your membership card now, and do you use it?

    in the absence of ideology politics often falls back on ‘big ideas’.

    I wonder what about the absence of politics or of big ideas?

    14/02/2011 at 3:44 pm

    I doubt you want to give t a Go, Baroness Murphy, if it means increased Church affiliations, and Churches do run a lot of Charities that you seem opposed to. After all, Religion is socially divisive and damages Social Cohesion, and its all Gobblegook anyway, not like Rationalist like you would want…

    That said, I personally think we need a society that operates more “On the ground”, in real time, and engaged in the Community myself. Beurocracies work on lists and tick boxes, and often don’t really orginise themselves. People become numbers and real needs are lost in the shuffle of who filed the correct paperwork and who filed it correctly later on.

  6. Lord Blagger
    14/02/2011 at 4:40 pm

    All this Government are doing is trying to get things done on the cheap without the necessary failsafes.

    165 billion overspend.

    That’s the problem. Governments have run up debts of 6,800 bn, and are overspending at the rate of 165 bn a month.

    Now you think cuts are bad. They are, but they will be even worse unless you address the financial mess.

    So let me offer you a challenge.

    Put some numbers to the alternatives.

    How big are the tax rises needed to plug 165 billion to prevent cuts?

    • Carl.H
      14/02/2011 at 5:01 pm

      How much is civil society worth as opposed to anarchy ?

      Lord Blaggard you’re obviously much more experienced with figures, I’ll leave the math to you. Remember though there must be a balance if not you’ll be back to the rule of the jungle.

    14/02/2011 at 7:52 pm
  8. Lord Blagger
    14/02/2011 at 8:09 pm

    And the balance is either 50% and more on VAT, and no cost of inflation increase for those affected.

    Or you go cut back on spending and start paying off the debts.

    Remember too, that the consequences of not doing this, are that the debt gets bigger, and what you overspent today, has to be paid plus the interest on top. That’s a large cut.

    So hard as it may be, hard cuts now are the more palatable choice than the massive cuts later.

    However, if you’re a peer raking in the cash, you vote for it to continue, and leave it for others to pay the bill.

    The balance is spending = taxation.

    165 bn of cuts. Each and every year.

    15/02/2011 at 1:02 pm

    You know, Lord Blaggar does have a point. The big problem with the Welfare State is that its untenable over time.

    • maude elwes
      26/02/2011 at 7:18 pm

      @ Zarove: Then surely we British must take on the idea Uncle Sam has of taking the tax payers money and giving them nothing but a killing machine for their dollars. Good thinking that.

      What makes you think the British tax payer is willing to pay taxes for nothing more than being a military junta? That thinking is very similar indeed to Col. Gaddafi.

      You must be wanting to promote Egyptian type unrest in this country of ours. How much do you think the US will make out of that idea spreading here then?

  10. maude elwes
    15/02/2011 at 1:07 pm

    What it means is, we are going to be forced into accepting more official personal trousering of our tax payer cash by those who get salary from the ‘social fund’ paid by us all.

    The banks, who are staunch Capitalists, until they find themselves going under financailly and suddenly they become heavy breathing Socialists. Begging for the State to use our ‘support pot’ to prop themselves up in order to rob us again. They are con men in league with Parliament.

    Councillors, who pay themselves more than the PM, after the job once being voluntary,(the big society) end up cutting what we pay for services (council tax) as they fill their trousers with the cash forced out of us by threat of imprisonment, and leave the rats in the streets to give us the plague through our overstuffed bins.

    The quango’s that tell us we must send billions of our tax payer money to vast continents who are far richer than ourselves, as they, in turn, send their needy for us to feed. Meantime our needy are starved to death by the State sanctioned policy of euthanasia revealed to us by todays media. Governments condone this abuse by covering the culprits identity and fund them with our money as they do it. If they were not colluding in this murderous behaviour they would send the culprits to jail. As they would if some family member did this to them in their own home.

    Pretend jobs paid for by us, for the millions of migrants who turn up having been asked to come and fill the jobs they throw our residents out of.

    Our higher education system no longer free for the average family. Only free to those who, in general, don’t pay a penny toward it. And then, to add insult to injury, reduce the worth of it by dumbing it down, in order to make it viable for those who cannot meet the requirements, rather than increasing its value by raising the standard level.

    Prisons full of so many drug addicts they no longer have the room to put those who murder us on the streets. They get bail in order to keep the population down. What other reason could there be?

    We have veered more and more toward the madness of the Dauphine of France, Louis Auguste. This ‘big society’ sounds akin to, ‘let them eat cake.’

    Oh yes, I would say we are on the brink of an Egyptian style wake up call to those who claim to be working in our best interests.

  11. Gareth Howell
    15/02/2011 at 10:03 pm

    The idea that co-operatives are the exclusive domain of socialists, and labour supporters is of course a myth.

    Refering to the noble Lord Haskel’s journey in USA, it is worth remembering that much of the trading done in the agricultural sector in North America is done cooperatively by huge agricultural cooperatives.

    There is a strong element of that in the UK too, so while Mr Cameron may be seen as intruding in to the consumer food retail business of the Manchester Coop group, (all are welcome!) a good deal of cooperative business is done in the UK in agriculture too.

    I am not thinking of the coop group’s possessions in farming itself, which are exaggerated, as a matter of pride.

    In the USA agricultural cooperatives are huge, but they would not be bothering to describe that as socialism either!Just a very valuable way of doing business together…. cooperatively.


    My own experience of NHS professional care, is that we would be far better off if there were more amateur carers, who are not there for the money, or to hurl abuse and lack of care at geriatric patients as reported today.

    The Big Society does have something, and it has something for me, but I do call it cooperation and shall continue to do so.

    All my efforts in parliaments, and councils, since my mid twenties have been about a Big society, but not exacting the fancy fees that Mr Cameron and his government exacts for doing work which is drastically over paid.

    Far too many politicians and far too high wages. Few principles; mainly hot air and stage management.

    The Swiss practice of rotating the Prime minister every year round the cabinet table would be a very valuable exercice in the UK.


    I am sorry that the Labour party does not even have a smidgeon of a leader in its ranks today. The party is waiting to be ‘taken up’
    as it was by Blair, by somebody young and with vitality, who can see the value of social conscience in public affairs, rather than the grabbing oligarchy which is running the country now, Right Hon Vincent Cable excepted!

    If only all politicians had to work through the department in the way that he has done through the DTI over the last 40 years, the country would be infinite better run.

    • maude elwes
      16/02/2011 at 5:32 pm

      Pity Dr Cable didn’t stay with his principles on the banking issue. And he turned out to be a very pro open door immigration specialist.

      Lost all credibility with the public now. Likewise Clegg.

    • maude elwes
      16/02/2011 at 7:12 pm

      The futures market is at the hub of the inflated price of food. Sort that out and you may get a better bang for your buck! And forced farming of animals is an offence to mankind. Could the reason the American public are enormous be down to the hormones and steroids these cattle are raised on? But, oh dear, don’t mention that, Aye.

      Nurses working for nothing was okay when they were given food and board. Nurses housing no longer exists and they don’t get any more free meals. So, what are you expecting these ‘English’ speaking nurses or carers to live on? Or, perhaps, you feel more immigrants will be willing to work for less? Especially those who use the job to learn English and then move on to something more palatable. Or, better still, marry and claim benefit. No worse pay is it?

      The nursing difficulties have become far worse under this Dame Christine Beasley, Chief Nursing Officer. Trying to find a CV on her is impossibe, so something’s being hidden.

      This woman took over in 2004 as Nursing Chief, having not seen a bedpan for twenty years. She was given various Doctorates and Professorship gratis, which appears to indicate a lack of genuine qualifications. Anyway, the point being, the system of nursing is now vile and this women is still in the job. And of course how much she is trousering from the tax payers purse is not readily available. But what do you want to bet it’s substantial. Another tax payers robbery. No improvement at all and I bet she’s hanging around looking for a nice bonus should she be moved on, like the one before her we are still paying.

      How is it the Health Service in the 50’s and 60’s had immaculately clean wards, no waiting lists, and plenty of caring superb nurses, midwives, Doctors, maternity wards, and on and on. Who changed that practice and why has it been allowed to fall into the equivalent of a sewer now? The money has ballooned and yet here we are with a body of people, many who can barely understand what we are saying, let alone take care of our needs when we are sick or know what it is we need to make us well.

      And more importantly, what is going to be done to right it? Where is the government who can make it as good as it was? Go backwards in fact. What a disgrace. The best system in the world and Parliament is allowing it to fall apart.

      Don’t think you will be covered by your private insurance for any length of time. And private hospitals don’t have ER or blood banks or facilities for serious illness ongoing. So, as I am sure the leader of the Conservatives, knows, the only kudos you will have is if you are famous as a media man. Then you will get the celeb treatment. If you are very fortunate.

      Even King Edward VII Hosp., doesn’t have A&E. Only the Princess Grace has something you can go to in an emergency if you pay. So, watch it, it is coming your way too.

  12. Lord Blagger
    16/02/2011 at 12:49 pm

    I’m in favour of coops too. Same as companies. Same as unions.

    The problem comes when you are forced to join or are forced to pay, with no say.

    If you don’t get to vote on taxes directly, why should you play the government’s game?

    No taxes without control

  13. MilesJSD
    23/02/2011 at 7:50 pm

    Forgive a bit of side-stage arm-waving, but the only two scrutiny committees (still alas! called “Select”) that I have watched something of lately are:

    (1) the one on “A Grand Strategy”
    where three professors urged urgent interim reporting by that Committee (otherwise they will be far too late to save Britain from worse disaster).

    This because we (Britain) have long not only had no single long-term or ‘grand’ strategy, but have been proliferating various and oft-contrasting even conflicting civil-service departmental policies, set by each departmental-head, in place of one compatibilised central Strategy.

    One reason for not bothering (or to be kind, not wasting funds doubling-up on what our Allies are already committed to doing-anyway) to construct just one British Strategy seeming to be (for instance) that in the case of Trident or other major-conflict capability, we would never implement it unilaterally, only in alliance with Europe/NATO/USA ………..

    (parliamentary-thinks) “so why not shelve all that strategising, and compensate by allowing ‘devolution’, right down the hierarchy ladder, via heads-of-departments’ and their individually-decided ‘strategic’-policies ?

    This (1) leaves us frustrated, even fuming; yet we now face even further floundering about, under the added proliferations of the Cameronian ‘Big Society’: the DIY School College, Academy, University … Community and Neighbourhood Centres, each with their own individual DIY constitutions and policies-cum-strategies ???

    Doesn’t it ?
    (approx 215 words; to be completed below).

  14. MilesJSD
    24/02/2011 at 9:05 am

    (2) scrutiny committee on Big-versus-Small Banking, and Bankers bonuses fair-unfair distributions (11 Jan 2011 ?).

    I didn’t record it, but to me it looked and sounded like a top-professional slippery-eel performance, especially by Diamond (Barclays’s CEO) literally playing catch-me-if-you-can, with a committee each questioner from which appeared to me to be quite spot on with their basic foci, but each seeming to be too easily perhaps willingly fobbed off, by expert-circumventioners ‘Bob’ Diamond and the other two CEO level Big-Bankers at the witness-table.
    One subsequent minor witness, however, was clearly and cooperatively focused, even helpfully so; and was constructively and very respectfully leaderful, I thought:
    but she was the CEO from Virgin, much smaller if better oriented and transparented capital banking finance than any of the Big-5 that dominate and own over 94% of the total banking-market capital.

    Truly I felt she was the soberest, and straightest, of the witnesses I watched; and she surpassed the ‘Cooperative’ flag-wavers with her presentation of Virgin’s long-long-term future financial, market, and people-orienting strategy which, whilst being very much ‘bide the time ‘ in big-finance, appeared way out-front in all-round, in-depth watchful, and ‘win-win-win’ preparedness for Britain’s present and future big-capital, high-street retail, home-mortgaging, and personal-cheque account banking needs; which is in singular contrast to most and possibly all other Bankers’ intentions, integrities and transparencies, including those of various as it were ‘named or claimed’ Cooperatives.
    PS a propos cooperative problem solving, I have previously recommended, among my non-negotiable, deal-breaking, ‘manuals-for-democratisation’, one of excellence but unfortunately titled “Everyone Can Win” ….. when inside, it is actually about “Every One Can Win”.
    (Concluded 0905Th24.JSDM)

    • maude elwes
      24/02/2011 at 2:51 pm

      Barclay’s loses a huge amount of kudos with the public by having a yank (Diamond) as its CEO. And its adverts offering its favourite customers special off shore banking facilities sticks in the craw as you scan the FT FTSE, knowing you missed out on the Fibre Optic Highway killing.

      Then, you have to add the fact that their share of taxes is so inconsequential (3%)in comparison to the average tax payer, who very quickly reaches the 40% mark. You have to ask why is the Inland revenue so kind to those who take in so much, whilst it is furiously anti social to those at the bottom of the financial pecking order? Imagine how well off the country would be if we had a system of 40% tax on bank profits.

      Then of course, how individuals on the largest emoluments always manage to pay the least toward our social fund is an enigma.

      Why do you think that is? Could it be that those who run government, on both sides of the House, upper and lower, benefit hugely from such a system? This has to be asked probingly, because, they are not in it for altruistic reasons. Are they?

      • MilesJSD
        24/02/2011 at 11:04 pm

        D’accord, Maude; to be pursued but a bit further down the, and my ( ~ampersand), agen da …
        ‘Fraid I am in a lone steaming flap here trying to get my new NuWave oven (again “yankee” but bought online via UK Sky channel 275, ‘Body-in-Balance’ daily health-skills 0600 – 2200) to quickly and moistly cook a 300ml pyrex bowl of plain porridge….. at all, because the first three attempts, each on Hi for 5 mins monitored, failed to do any more than fan the surface of the water but leave the oats un-reached at the bottom of the bowl.
        (I’ll have to make time and money enough to buy back my old microwave from the charity-shop. It would still cook 300ml of porridge-oats in just under 3 minutes, including a brief midway pause for stirring).
        Why don’t you all go on ahead; I’ll catch up later;

        thank you.

        JSDM 2303Th24

  15. MilesJSD
    25/02/2011 at 1:11 am

    I would link one arm with you, Maude;

    and I guess you too would want the clear question that is being put to bankers about their grotesquely greedy bonuses, by a current parliamentary scrutiny-committee as well as by ranges of serious-citizens back through the years and decades, to be answered by each-and-all in that profiteering-loop, and answered quick-sharp – I mean on-pain-of-asset-srippping, hard-labour-imprisonment, or death – in clarity, charity, self-correctibility, truth, accuracy, and constructive-cogency;
    wouldn’t you ?

    Most of us more-sustainworthy or lower and underclass people, by the billion worldwide, need these questions of life-and-death, and of human-race-thrival as well as of mere survival, to be answered by the responsible perpetrators, “today”: surely ?

    (“)If a £3 million pound a year salary is insufficient for one employee to actually succeed in doing a one-person job 100% successfully and nation-profitably, what is the sense and where the sustain-worthiness of adding a 2 million bonus to that £3 million CEO’s (and entire-boardroom’s) anti-social, malfeasant, and effectively criminal sabotage and failure ?(“)

    (( I put it to you-all, that a bank-ceo needs no more daily-porridge than do I, and thou, who are and have long been healthily & sustainworthily making ends meet on only £200 per week i.e. a mere £10,000 a year ))…

    The law of increasing “rewards” is horrificly at insidious attritional War with the law of diminishing “individually-personal life-efficiency”: the more money given to the person the lower their personal-life efficiency & environmental-lifesupports-supportiveness, conservation, and preservation sinks into ever-contagioning vanity-fairs and feastings upon the farm seed-stocks…

    250 words JSDM0111F25

    • maude elwes
      26/02/2011 at 7:47 pm

      @milesjsd: I’m in the link with you, miles. And yes, we need clear answers to these and many other questions of how this came about and who was behind it in the first place? Who rolled it out and where are they now? How much have they gleaned?

      However, the shareholders deserve some of the blame. Why do they continue to back these clowns to the left of me and jokers to the right, leaving us stuck in the middle with them!

  16. 07/06/2011 at 11:59 pm

    Cameron‭’‬s Big Solution
    Myself,‭ ‬my wife and our eight young children have been told that,‭ ‬before January‭ ‬2012,‭ ‬we must move to‭ “‬the fringes‭” ‬of London or further afield,‭ ‬as a letter from Westminster Council benefits puts it:‭ “‬to make sure that people on benefit are not living in‭ ‬accommodation that would be unaffordable to most people in work‭”‬.‭ ‬Our rent is‭ ‬£2000‭ ‬a week for an ex‭ ‬3‭ ‬bedroom council house.‭ ‬Mr Cameron and Westminster Councillor Philippa Roe say we need to be‭ “‬realistic‭”‬.

    To any reader who already has their pen out,‭ ‬let‭’‬s make something clear:‭ ‬under the new housing benefit rules,‭ ‬a‭ “‬normal‭” ‬married couple with two children,‭ ‬earning‭ ‬£48K a year between them‭ ‬and‭ ‬paying the median‭ ‬£530‭ ‬a week for a privately rented‭ ‬2‭ ‬bed Westminster home will receive as little as‭ ‬£1.7K a year in housing benefit‭ ‬-‭ ‬leaving them to pay over‭ ‬£25K a year rent‭ ‬-‭ ‬that is‭ ‬80%‭ ‬of their take home wage each week.‭ ‬That is:‭ ‬the average rent for a two bed home in Westminster is now more than‭ ‬80%‭ ‬of the‭ ‬combined‭ ‬net‭ ‬income of two normal working people on typical wages which,‭ ‬apparently,‭ ‬is realistic.

    Rent levels have nothing to do with housing benefit:‭ ‬I have asked landlords,‭ ‬including our own,‭ ‬and been consistently told that the market is‭ “‬buoyant‭” ‬and‭ ‬rents will not go down when benefits are cut.‭ ‬Official research also mainly suggests‭ ‬it is‭ “‬unlikely rents in inner London will drop significantly‭”‬.

    So,‭ ‬what is‭ ‬going on here‭? ‬Many campaign groups have alluded to it,‭ ‬Karen Buck hinted at it but was‭ ‬constrained by political sensitivities and even Boris took his mind off avoiding Bob Crow long enough to comment.‭

    What‭’‬s going on is Cameron‭’‬s Big Solution:‭ ‬a policy of ethnic and social cleansing which slithered in over the back of the sparkling propaganda coup of holding up to scorn and ridicule a handfull of confused refugees‭ (‬people fleeing war,‭ ‬persecution etc‭) ‬-‭ ‬placed by chance in expensive accommodation by Councils,‭ ‬describing these refugees as‭ “‬asylum seekers‭”‬.‭ ‬They also highlighed stories about benefit cheats and‭ “‬scroungers‭”‬ who in reality make up a small minority of those on benefits and whose motives and reasons are actually far too diverse and complex to lump into any meaningful category.‭ ‬They only just stopped short of depicting these people as rats.‭ ‬ As Mr Cameron crudely and tritely says:‭ “‬immigration and welfare reform are two sides of the same coin‭”‬.

    Propaganda is wont to ignore inconvenient truths:‭ ‬UK benefit rates are not fabulously more generous than those of many other European countries,‭ ‬and the bulk of refugees are put in far from salubrious accommodation.

    Mr Cameron asserts that Immigration has put‭ “‬real pressures on communities…‭ ‬on schools,‭ ‬housing and healthcare…‭ ‬significant numbers of new people‭…‬ not able to speak the same language…‭ ‬not really wanting or even willing to integrate‭…”‬ and,‭ ‬he says of the unemployed and working poor:‭ “‬if they’re out of work,‭ ‬or on a low wage,‭ ‬and living in an expensive home in the centre of a city‭ [‬that‭] ‬the decision to go back to work,‭ ‬or take a better paid job could mean having to move to a cheaper home,‭ ‬in a different part of the city,‭ ‬in order to escape benefit dependency.‭”‬ How is a poor manual worker going to simply make‭ “‬the decision‭”‬ to take a better paid job‭?

    The combination of benefit‭ “‬reforms‭”‬ will force poor people to move:‭ ‬families like mine,‭ ‬single poor people,‭ ‬including pensioners who have worked all their lives,‭ ‬hard working unskilled people,‭ ‬the disabled and the ill.‭ ‬People will die:‭ ‬not least unsettled pensioners,‭ ‬those whose medical‭ ‬or psychiatric treatment is disrupted,‭ ‬those who break down‭ (‬I‭ ‬know at least one recent local suicide has been directly attributed to benefit cuts‭)‬.‭ ‬Already disadvantaged people will be renedered utterly destitute because of the‭ ‬reality‭ ‬that hard work‭ ‬counts for nothing while the money you have‭ ‬-‭ ‬pretty much however you got it‭ ‬-‭ ‬counts for much.‭ ‬Of course,‭ ‬black people and other minorities will be disproportionately afflicted,‭ ‬because we are,‭ ‬in‭ ‬reality,‭ ‬more likely to be poor.

    So,‭ ‬Mr Cameron will fix‭ ‬“undesireable‭”‬ immigration,‭ ‬welfare dependency and parasitism by resettling us all,‭ ‬somewhere out of the way of‭ “‬hard working taxpayers‭”‬ of the big society:‭ ‬so that better paid work or,‭ ‬indeed,‭ ‬any‭ ‬work sets us free…

    I‭ ‬do‭ ‬work,‭ ‬as it happens,‭ ‬as do more benefit claimants than are unemployed‭ ‬-‭ ‬the OECD predicts that without rent subsidy low paid workers‭ “‬will be restricted to poorer areas with few jobs‭”‬ where we will‭ “‬become locked in a cycle of worklessness‭”‬ in other words:‭ ‬ghettoes.‭ ‬Where to from there‭? ‬Well,‭ ‬barring a miracle,‭ ‬thousands of us,‭ ‬including my family and I,‭ ‬are on our way to‭ “‬the fringes of London‭”‬ or further afield,‭ ‬for a start.‭ ‬Perhaps the Government might offer to lay on trains for us…

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