It’s not BIG, and it probably isn’t clever . . . ?

If I have understood this right, the BIG idea from this Conservative-lead Coalition government, is The BIG SOCIETY.

Initially, I thought it was just another attack upon obesity, but – apparently – it is not, it is really about taking government out of certain spheres and replacing it with volunteers. Almost by accident, I think, it also allows them to save lots of money that would otherwise be frittered away on Libraries, Play Groups, Arts events and Youth Clubs. This is, of course, good news, as it means that central government will reduce the deficit – you know, that one that is nothing to do with the banks (“time to stop the blame game, etc., and to concentrate on that bonus!” ).

I am a tad confused though.

This is, surely, the political party of TINA (There Is No Alternative) – of “U turn if you want too, The Lady is NOT for turning” – of the Great She-Elephant, who said, “There is no such thing as Society” . . . but her successor is saying, not only is there one, but it is BIG too ?

Anyway, as you all know, I’m incredibly old and remember things. I remember the 1970’s, when a Trade Union General Secretary (Clive Jenkins) and his union’s Head of Research (Barrie Sherman – think he went on to be a Labour MP?) produced a few books about the onset of new technology and the leisure implications.

Apparently, we were all going to be freed from the drudgery and the need to work till we dropped, and would have more time to pursue enlightenment and be a more caring bunch. No more lonely pensioners; no more isolated disabled; the new technological revolution would mean the growth industries would be the caring ones. It was even prophesised that we’d retire at 50 (HA!) and would have to learn how to enjoy our increased leisure time.

Boy, did that not happen!!

We are now looking to work until we are 70, not 50; and the average working week is going up, not down. New technology has become our taskmaster, not our liberator. OK, it allows me to do this too, so it isn’t all bad (unless you are reading it, of course !).

One thing that “put a spanner in the works” of the great age of leisure is the simple fact that leisure needs money. You can have oodles of time (ask any poor soul on the dole) but without some disposable cash – with a few exceptions (!!) – you can’t enjoy yourself. There is only so much day time TV you can watch (and that requires electricity, a licence and the occasional repair); only so many rigorous walks, etc.

Sadly, those who did benefit from the technological advances, held on to the benefits. The vast bulk of those who lost manufacturing jobs as a result, simply became unemployed, or shunted off to certain benefits (see previous rants!). That “enforced leisure” held no enthral for them

So where am I going with this?

Well, the BIG SOCIETY talks about volunteerism taking over libraries or community halls, about paid professionals being replaced by unpaid philanthropic citizens. BUT – Where do they get the time from to do all this? Who are the people who have the ability to do these tasks with this mythical spare time?  Perhaps the unemployed or the disabled will have to “volunteer” to “earn their benefits” in future?

Call me Dave” may mean well (OK, I’m being sarcastic) but is the 4th (or 5th, not checked – OK?) richest nation really thinking of returning to Victorian morals?

John Major tried “Back to basics ” as a Social model, until certain members of his party were discovered to have much looser morals than he anticipated (mind, even he was supposed to be “dallying” with Mrs. Currie!). Where is Cameron coming from on this?

For what it is worth – probably very little, before someone posts that comment – I think this is classic right-wing ideology. Remove the state from everything possible and allow the very rich (the very VERY rich, because only they ever benefit) to spend only what they want on what they choose to spend it on. The rest of us? Well, we are components, a resource, a commodity; something to be used and exploited, and not their concern really. Is this the 21st or the 18th century? I BEGIN TO WONDER . .

Thanks for listening, and be grateful, as ever, that you can 🙂 PK

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Carol Ivory on February 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    You have been reading my mind,but you put it into words better than I can. You make me laugh when really I should be crying.
    After 50 years still I cry”Themba” there must be a way.
    Hope springs eternal. We must have the confidence,conviction and certainty, that where there are problems there are always solutions,that we do not need to accept the defeatism of doing nothing.
    (I nicked that from my hero GB)but you already know that don’t you?


  2. Posted by ivanjelical on February 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Splott Dad for Prime Minister!!


  3. Posted by sidewaysthinker on February 21, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Spot on! My thoughts expressed beautifully. Thank you so much for exposing the BS(hite) for what it is.


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