Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Cameron's 'Big Society' needs local ties

Though Cameron has grasped the germ of the idea that central Statism is an unequivocal evil for this nation and its people, he is resisting any real commitment to Localism. Dave's vision seems to be a sort of State Lite; individual volunteers with vertical ties to a smaller State taking the place of Socialist functionaries. Ministers will still hold budgets for local functions and direct policy, albeit through leaner and meaner mechanisms.

Cameron's National Volunteer Corps, as outlined in a major interview with the Guardian, demonstrates that he still doesn't trust people to manage their own lives and communities. Yes, there is a volunteering gap - in areas in which volunteering is part of the central State's agenda. There is no shortage of volunteers in areas prioritised by people themselves. Individuals will engage easily enough when they feel they have a real measure of control, and this means devolving tax raising and spending decisions to local level.

The radical change that's needed is not another variety of vertical tie, but the freedom for local, horizontal ties to form and bind. For a member of the political class, which is what Dave undoubtedly is, giving away any measure of power whatsoever is like having a tooth wrenched out. They hate it. Cameron has also grown up in a party structure ruthlessly centralised under Thatcher - and has shown recently a tenacious opposition to allowing his local associations any real autonomy.

Within a few weeks, the days will start to lengthen again and one hopes the increased light will start to illuminate the detail of Cameron's manifesto as we crawl closer to May. I haven't given up on him yet - he may still astonish us with an act of real vision and leadership - but he'll need to do a great deal better than this sort of dishwater 'keynote' speech.

3 comments:

Budgie said...

Raedwald, I completely fail to understand why you "haven't given up on him yet". Cameron is either lying about his EU policy or deluded, and both are fatal to us and him.

You now explain the deficiencies in his policies on localism because "Dave's vision seems to be a sort of State Lite; individual volunteers with vertical ties to a smaller State". This isn't, in fact, localism at all as you say. So he is deluded about that too. I presume he is kind to puppies.

Chris said...

"...individual volunteers with vertical ties to a smaller State taking the place of Socialist functionaries."

That sounds more like "doing it on the cheap coz the country's skint" than actual grass roots localism.

Umbongo said...

Agree with Budgie

The solution to the all-enveloping state is not Cameron's preferred solution which is a "nice" state rather than a "nasty" one. The solution is an absence of state: a conservative as well as a non-Cameroon Conservative solution.

On the BBC1 10:00 News last might, after giving Cameron's views a lengthy airing (which says it all about Cameron's "threat" to the political class and its propaganda division) we had the BBC reporter and some fake chariteer asking about how all this can be funded. A smaller state doesn't need funding. People volunteering, people organising genuine charities, the "small platoons" don't need funding - all they want is the state to give them room to breathe.

But oh no Cameron will "assist" them. Cameron will "devolve" power to them while, all the time, interfering at national and local level. "Localism" in Cameron's terms is no more than state involvement locally, it's not the state not getting involved.