A Bigger Society

Will the government make something of the Big Society in time to win the elections?

Cameron recently led a vote to allow gay people to get married in the UK. Well. Parts of the UK. Wales and England to be precise. North of the border, and across the Irish sea our celtic cousins are still wondering how to break the news to their electorate that the tide of history has turned.

That's the thing with tides though, they are always turning.

As our world becomes better connected, more transparent, brighter, richer, and crucially - more vibrant - we naturally see more of each other: we're drawn in. And repelled.

Even now the papers are rounding on the almost equal 139 vs 132 split in the Conservative for and against the Prime Minister's recent vote.

Why does it matter? It matters because back when they were passing out snake oil to anyone with a thirst - the Tories did indeed mention something called the 'Big Society' their Grand Idea.

That All Inclusive Nothingness which was somehow to magically fill the wounds that the butchers of austerity eagerly had in wait for us. They promised us a detoxified Tory party. All inclusive. Rebranded. Cameron hugging huskies near some Canadians. Photogenic wives.

I remember with a wry smile the rose garden courting of Nick Clegg. And best of all: the magic trick of having the most powerful black man in history, President Obama, on his first official visit to the UK wearing an apron and serving burgers to white British aristocracy.

At some level you have to admire the nerve, if nothing else. But, promises were made, we were told the Big Society would solve all our healthcare and education problems. It would Fix the Economy.

It didn't; it hasn't. We're now in a triple dip recession, the GP consortium plan is in ruins, and the NHS is so dangerously understaffed I feel like I'm going to wake up tomorrow in my very own 28 days later. Even today Gove had to back down on his plans to scrap GCSEs as criticism of his handling of education is becoming fiercely intense.

So where does that leave the Big Society? In the open. To the point that sites with names such as "abiggersociety" have sprung up and contain a mixture of elements - a syncretic reaction to the ills and the gaudy memes which have flooded our digital culture. Undirected, and unfocused they currently represent only a tiny fraction of British society. Whether they settle down into something constructive remains to be seen, but primary reason for such ventures even existing is a lack of leadership from the government on it's flagship policy.

We do all want more efficient and competitive services, but as we all know - turning over government services to the private sector reduces accountability. Corporations are built to maximise profit - not necessarily quality of life.

Will the government make something of the Big Society in time to win the elections?

Stay Tuned.


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