Maybe Cameron will count the moon?
One of the many depressing things about the Conservative opposition is it’s lack of a original big idea; and the fact that when they articulate one it all sounds so horribly disjointed. It’s the one thing that tells you when push comes to shove that all the big ideas will in fact, be supplied by the Conservative right once Cameron comes to power.
Take his recently espoused ‘big society’ vision which moves from one flawed premise as he tries desperately to woo Guardian readers;
the recent growth of the state has promoted not social solidarity, but selfishness and individualism.
Where was Cameron during the 1980’s and dying days of the last Conservative government precisely? Where was Cameron as Margaret Thatcher rampaged across the land destroying the social solidarity of coal-mining communities and asset-striping to her hearts content? The inherent problem with Cameron’s premise is it suffers from some kind of ideological myopia; it sees people as naturally altruistic (some are, some aren’t) and is blind when it comes to structural issues that cause poverty and deprivation and all the social ills he claims to want to combat. You will, however, note that at the end of the day it is still the individual that carries the can; either in their altruistic form or in their ‘workshy’ form. Cameron proves my point;
An emphasis on responsibility is absolutely vital. When the welfare state was created, there was an ethos, a culture to our country – of self-improvement, of mutuality, of responsibility. You could see it in the collective culture of respect for work, parenting and aspiration.
So much for the statement that it is the growth in the state that causes selfishness etc; when the cookie crumbles the problem is still with the individual. Logically Cameron twists and turns but what he says is the same Conservative ethos reheated and garnished with a sprig of holly in a rather pathetic attempt to buff it up into something new and shiny. When you look at his concrete proposals there is not alot there; ‘equality of opportunity’ sounds so good but then again so does motherhood and apple pie, as always the devil lurks in the detail.
Cameron has alot of questions to answer like how does his ‘big society’ come into being if it is not through active government action? Does it drop magically from the sky? No, it does not;
How do we guarantee that the big society advances as big government retreats? By creating a new role for the state: galvanising, catalysing, prompting, encouraging and agitating for community engagement and social renewal. It must help families, individuals, charities and communities come together to solve problems. We must use the state to help stimulate social action.
Or rob Peter and pay Paul. So, while proposals for more benefits for those entering work are welcome the crumbs offered will come from those thoughtlessly thrown off of incapacity benefit; all in the name of ‘compassionate Conservatism’ and a ‘big society’ of course. It is to be hoped that Cameron will be exposed for what it is; a façade behind which something truly nasty and damaging to society lurks.