The Big Society

Just been reading the paper on the ‘Big Society’ put out by the Government of all the talentless. It’s not pretty reading.

Click to access building-big-society.pdf

Running through it all is the theme of offloading services from local and national government to so called ‘local’ initiatives. It doesn’t take a genius to understand why. Take people’s taxes and instead of redistributing them via local councils and national initiatives you pass the loot over to local organisations. And of course all these local organisations will need ‘managing’. From Secretaries to Treasurers to Committees, all posts that will undoubtedly come at a price and can be filled by men and women of good upstanding, of course. ‘Jobs for the boys’, the ‘old school tie network’, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Unelected as well, no doubt.

There’s talk of local people being able to start up their own schools if enough people consider that local ones are failing in some way. Fantastic news to the middle-class pushy parents – take the money from the local comp and set up up a school in your own image. Result! Poor kids in the local school get starved of funds and undoubtedly the new school will have some from of admissions policy. How jolly it will be to lord it over the riff-raff on the estates!

Another by-product will be the marginalisation of trades unions, I mean if the employees ‘own’ the company then it’s bleeding obvious that the potential for strike action diminishes. That’ll be a poke in the eye for the red menace!

And how long before this expands to the provision of what we now see as rights – unemployment benefit, housing benefit and the rest. Imagine all this being put into the hands of an organisation who can dish the pittances out at their own whim! I shall have to buy a cap, else what else will I have to doff with?

There’s a favourite quote of mine from a book written by Clem Attlee in the 1920s. It goes thus:

‘In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways – they may be neglected, they may be cared for by the organised community as of right, or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community. The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice’.

God help us in our hour of need that relief comes in the form of charity when we have a perfectly good welfare state that can deal with all of these matters.

Then there’s the plan for a ‘National Citizen Service’. When we have all these unemployed what the chuff are we doing cobbling together a pool of the young whose labour can be harnessed for free. Another nail in the coffin for the Minimum Wage. I smell the Hitler Youth!

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