What exactly is the Big Society?

American leaders think big. Franklin D Roosevelt had the New Deal, while Lydon B Johnson had the Great Society – both of which changed the face of America.  British politicians are not quite in the same league. Tony Blair had The Third Way (whatever happened to that?), while David Cameron struggles to advance the Big Society with his statement today.

But what exactly is the Big Society?

According to Brian Wheeler on the BBC web site:

“It is a “coral reef” and we are the fishes. It is the hidden hand behind all government action. It is everywhere and nowhere at once.”

“There is still confusion among civil servants about what the big society actually means – despite an on-going series of seminars across Whitehall to explain it.”

According to Jackie Ashley in her column:

“In one sense, the big society is an idea so vague almost nobody could be against it. If it means that many of us should be doing more for our neighbourhood and for society in general, then it is something every faith group and political party would applaud.

If it means we shouldn’t worry about local government cuts because volunteers will pick up the pieces – and that it’s the “answer” to Labour statism, it gets a big raspberry all round.”

And Will Straw on the blog LeftFootForward offers five reasons why you can’t trust Cameron’s version of the idea.


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