The time is right to create the Big Society!
February 14, 2011 § 2 Comments
Today I watched the live TV coverage of Prime Minister David Cameron in effect re-launching The Big Society.
As a believer in pluralist politics, I believe it is right to point out when other party’s have a good idea-whatever our other political differences them may be.
I believe Cameron has got it exactly right with this idea, whose aim is to give more power back to the people.
Who could argue with that?
Well, lots of people it would seem.
Since stating that I was in favour of it on Twitter I’ve received what feels like an avalanche of (mostly Labour) tweeters pouring scorn on the idea.
Well, shame on those people for not trusting in people to come together and run services which, otherwise, might be closed.
We in the Liberal Democrats trust local people and local communities, we always have.
We are, naturally, devolvers of power; from Central Government to local Government and from local Government to even more local communities.
Of course the Big Society must not be a replacement for the State; we will always need skilled professionals to run our schools and hospitals, etc.
But if, for example, a library is scheduled to close, then why not-if the man power and will is there-allow a community group to step in, step up and take over the running it, to ensure it remains open?
Of course the necessary training will be needed and a fair amount of organisation involved, but surely it’s better to retain services staffed by volunteers-or as part of a social enterprise-than to lose them altogether?
Last night I watched the latest edition of the brilliant Channel 4 series, ‘The People’s Supermarket’ where a community has taken over a derelict building and opened their own store, staffed by its members.
Though, of course, there are teething problems, it was really inspiring to see how they could be overcome and how a community can pull together to support such a project.
Arthur Potts Dawson and everyone else involved deserves tremendous credit for all that they’ve done so far.
I see the Prime Minister has visited The People’s Supermarket today.
This kind of venture is all about bringing people together, taking ownership of a project, working with local/central government-but not being micro-managed by them.
The media narrative may be that the Big Society has been halted before it’s even got going, is ‘not understood’ as a concept but, in the real world, people understand it perfectly well.
Here in my own village of Barwell in Leicestershire, we have a number of wonderful examples of The Big Society in action; from Churches providing soup and coffee morning’s, to our wonderful Carnival Association-with which I’m Press Officer- to a new volunteer-run committee we’re looking to set up, to help run big community events.
So, come on fellow Lib Dems and others, lets stop sniping from the sidelines, stop being so cynical, and instead let’s get behind an idea whose time is now.
The Big Society.