Labour and the Big Society….
Dave Hodges has a good piece on Labour Uncut arguing Labour should stop bashing the ‘Big Society’. On one level this is a hard debate to have because, as I am sure Dave would acknowledge its such a vacuous and vague term it can mean anything. I do have to take Dave to task for this though, he says;
positive, idealistic message that we sour with harsh home truths. We are the grumpy person in the corner who perks up adversely to criticise every time the opportunity arises.
We are the opposition and as such we have to expose the fallacy of the governments position and fashion our own positive one to replace it with. This is not just the case with the policies but the ideological bedrock as well – and, as Dave acknowledges, what we say is *true*. Finally, when push comes to shove, to build something there is usually some knocking down and clearing of the old rubbish away to do in the process.
So, how should Labour engage with the Big Society, it certainly should knock it down and it certainly should try and build something in its place, which as Dave outlines sees the state not just and enabler but also as a guarantor. This is something that is crucially missing from these debates – the obligation the state owes to all its citizens to protect and ensure they are provided with a certain standard of living. It is certainly something that is missing from the big society, this moral, ethical and indeed democratic obligation is merely airbrushed out of the equation and passed onto voluntary organisations who are unable to provide the necessary stability.
This is something we have to factor in – like it or not, there is some things only the state can do. So, the question is not how we reduce state control as such but how we then democratise the state. This is the real question Labour should be asking, not getting involved in the Big Society charade. The counterposition involved in the ‘big society’ between the state and the people is a false one and its a cover for another agenda – that of private enterprise. Labour would be remiss not expose it, it can create a positive, idealistic vision of a better Britain based on sound principles of democracy and a society based on social needs and equality. When it does so it will look nothing like the Big Society….