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Is David Cameron about to shelve the ‘big society’?

Headless chickens come to mind as we watch Labour and Conservatives running around in search of the best way to neutralise the Clegg effect. It’s brought the election alive in a slightly disturbing way – might we actually end up with something daring, like scrapping Trident or joining the Euro?

Of special interest to the voluntary sector is that David Cameron has not reached for his ‘big society’ idea as his party looks desperately for a way to revive its fortunes. Quite the opposite, if a story in yesterday’s Guardian is to be believed. It seems that the idea is being quietly pushed into the background.

Some of the remarks from unnamed shadow cabinet ministers are quite savage. “The ‘big society’ is bollocks,” one was quoted as saying. Another attributed the idea to manifesto supremo Oliver Letwin and commented: “We need to turn his Hegelian dialectic into voter friendly stuff.”

The ‘big society’ is a nice ideal – a society where we all care and share and participate. But it will always be seen by some as an unrealistic pipe dream, and by others as an elaborate fig leaf for ‘same old Tories, same old cuts.’ One things seems crystal clear: it’s not much of a vote winner in the current state of play.

  • Eowyn Rohan

    “We must offer work placements, volunteering experiences and jobs that show young people that it is possible to work without being exploited, that there is dignity in a working life and that they should expect to be treated fairly and well in their job. Equally, they should work in a safe environment and not be put at risk from overwork or dangerous conditions.”

    Absolutely. However, if Third Sector Organisations wish to secure any degree of commitment from its staff, than that objective will not be achieved if, rather than promoting the Brand Value of the organisation, and installing a sense of commitment from volunteers, the organisation otherwise becomes complicit in deceit, and abuses current lapse systems – typified by recruiting Unpaid Interns and Work Programme Placements for the unemployed.