Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Cameron. Big Society. Not Going to work is it? Unless...

Ah Cameron. Come in, sit down. No, not on that one, the wooden one.

How are you doing, dear boy? You're still looking in the pink. And the family? Good, good.


I have noticed that your Big Society is in the news again.

It has an unfortunate acronym. BS. You do know what else is known by that acronym? Yes? Good. I only ask because of your "Too many tweets makes a twat" blooper.

I have just been reading a critical review by Polly Curtis. Yes, the Guardian, but you should read it.

In essence, your two main actors who were meant to implement the BS have both resigned, saying that your Big Society is literally BullShit.

This is not good.

It's not going to bloody work*, is it Cameron?

As Polly says, you have managed to stimulate the Big Society with your policies, but in acts of direct opposition to his wishes.

Already the students and UkUncut have taken to the streets. 

To come, you have the 
  • woodland heritage groups, 
  • the unions, 
  • library users, 
  • swimming bath users, 
  • NHS users, 
  • unemployed people from all walks of live, notably local and national government employees, most notably of all, ex-policemen and women. 
All gunning for you.

That is a pretty formidable list of opponents. You are going to take a lot of incoming in coming weeks and months. 

You have upset a significant number, Cameron. Well may you fidget.

Look, let us cut to the chase. In order to turn your BS back in to the Big Society that is in your mind's eye, you are going to have to do two things: one is to think outside the box. The other, you are not going to like.

I have been thinking. On your behalf. Cheer up, lad, it's natural to be unable to think in Number 10.
It goes with the job. No Prime Minister has time to think. Prime Ministers are there make a series of semi-random choices in order to terminate whatever is currently making the policy wonks screech at each other. They also sign things, shake hands, and cut tape. That is the job.

So I've been thinking. And reading.

I came across an obscure but very interesting book called Bills of Health It was written in the 90's by an imaginative GP who was struck by story of the policeman who was so busy pulling bodies out of the stream that he had no time to go upstream and see  who was throwing them in.

I won't bore you with the details, though he does suggest that certain reforms could cut the NHS clinical demand by around a fifth. Which should be of interest to Lansley. Or, more to the point, his successor. I trust you are working on names for Lansley's successor, Cameron?

What is interesting is that he wrote a chapter on the effects of social interaction on health. He had to cut it from the original book for editorial reasons, but he has it on the Web. Here is the URL.

You must read it. He says that there is a model of the Big Society. It works.

It consists of paying for a Community Worker and for a Community Space. The neighborhood elect or bring in their Community Worker, who catalyses local action.

It works.

So do it. 

I see by the look of anguish on your face that you are reacting to my mention of "paying". That is the second thing, the one you are not going to like. But you are going to have to do it.

You are asking for peanuts, Cameron, absolute peanuts. Go next door and have it out with Gideon. You're the bloody Prime Minister, he's just Mr Moneybags. Show him who's boss.

That's all.

You may go now. Close the door quietly.


See also

* RL: Which is a pity, because community work, decentralisation, local action, and conviviality have been core green values ever since I have been in the Green Party, which is now more than 30 years.

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