Posts Tagged ‘Big Society’

Liverpool FC is a big society, say Jonathan Todd and Alison McGovern

06/10/2010, 05:30:10 PM

As Ed Miliband was unveiled as Labour’s leader in Manchester ten days ago, Liverpool were drawing with Sunderland 30 miles away. Which disappointing result was of secondary concern for many compared with protesting against the club’s misrule by Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Yet even with the possibility of administration hanging over the club, Jeff Stelling of Sky told the protestors to “concentrate on what’s happening on the pitch.”

But this “let them eat cake and drink warm lager” attitude misses the point.

As the clock ticks down to the club effectively being publicly owned, we should ask whether David Cameron has a better grasp of the issues at stake. In spite of the ownership bid from New England Sports Ventures, Robert Peston continues to see control of the club by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) as a live option. RBS, 84 percent publicly owned, could assume ownership on 15 October when loans taken out with them expire.

While it may be that RBS avoids this outcome by finding new owners capable of servicing the debt in the next week, an RBS takeover is close enough that questions must be asked about how they would conduct themselves as custodians of the club. A publicly owned bank taking on such a role raises new issues.

These issues are larger than the club; even than a club as great as Liverpool. They cut to the core of what we want our post credit-crunched country to be.

There is a worry that the practices which contributed to our troubles may be returning to the financial sector. This concern undermines the hope that there may be opportunity in the financial crisis; opportunity to re-evaluate what kind of economy and society we want to be and to recalibrate ourselves accordingly. (more…)

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Dave Howells’ take on Dave Cameron’s big moment

06/10/2010, 04:03:44 PM

See more from @davehowells at

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We need a more sophisticated response to the big society, says Peter Watt

15/09/2010, 09:00:11 AM

I know what is best for me and what is best for my family. You don’t.

I suspect that most people in the Labour party feel the same about themselves and their families.  By and large, we are a pretty independently minded bunch which doesn’t take kindly to being told what to do, how to think and how to vote in (say) internal elections.  Presumably this is because we think that we are intelligent, capable of free thinking and able to take decisions for ourselves?

So why do we think that voters want us making so many decisions for them?  We have set rules about what school people can send their kids to; what, when and how their home-support services are delivered if they are infirm; when they can visit the GP; which part of town they can live in and even what sort of food they can eat or feed to their families.  Of course if you are wealthy enough then you can bypass the rules that we set and decide for yourself.  No, our rules are very inequitable and only apply to those who can’t afford to buy their way out of sticking to them.  Understandably people are beginning to say “enough – I want to make some decisions for myself.”


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I don’t want a new best friend. I want a Labour Prime Minister

24/07/2010, 12:00:21 PM

Back  in 1994 Tony Blair sealed the deal with many of us when he was billed as “the man the Tories most fear”. After the crushing blow of losing in 1992 we wanted a winner. Damn his policies! As the late Tony Banks exclaimed “my members will eat shit to see a Labour government”.

Blair was given enormous latitude. The party was desperate to break its losing streak. We got hooked on successful – but corrosive – habits about stifling internal debate and adopting an approach to discipline that would make a Gordonstoun headmaster blush. But that approach helped keep us in power for 13 years; albeit with a long trail of political capital and supporters leaching out on the road behind us.

We now find ourselves in the middle of Labour’s first truly modern leadership campaign; one that eschews the left/right factionalism of the past and the fatalism we used to have about whether we could actually win power at all. It is opening up debate in a way that we are unused to.

But we have to be careful we don’t overuse our new gifts. There is a balance to be struck between embracing the party’s new glasnost and forgetting the old ways – and why we adopted them in the first place.

At the moment, there’s a lot of tummy tickling going on but not much vision. We need a discussion about how do we equip ourselves for a world where coalition governments may become commonplace. Where there is less money to spend our way to our social democratic nirvana. Where we articulate our own version of The Big Society. Where we back up our grand rhetoric on localism and environmentalism with real commitments next time. But these kind of hard-edged issues are simply not breaking through. (more…)

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Tuesday News Review

20/07/2010, 07:32:12 AM

Miliband: beating contenders

Leadership Candidate Visibility

‘Despite his rivals efforts to make inroads – particularly Ed Balls who seems to be constantly popping up on tv and radio – David Miliband’s support is rock solid and there is no serious money being invested on any of his fellow contenders’ –William Hill

Many of those who do may have listened to Mr Balls’s speech and been enchanted by it. It may certainly have appealed to their lower instincts. It may have tickled their viscera. And for this reason we can conclude that Mr Balls had a good day, awful though he may have been.  The simple fact was that he was on his hind hooves, bulging his eyes in parliamentary prime time while none of his leadership opponents was to be seen or heard. – Daily Mail.

Miliband in Scotland

Labour will never form another UK Government unless it revives in southern England. The stark assessment comes from David Miliband as the Labour leadership contender tries to get to grips with the public’s rejection of New Labour, now consigned to the history books and to be replaced by what some have dubbed, somewhat unimaginatively, Next Labour, which Miliband says can be relaunched from Scotland. –Herald Scotland.

Labour leadership contender David Miliband has condemned the decision to release the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing as clearly wrong. His comments in an exclusive interview in The Herald today represent a dramatic change in his previous position on Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi’s release on medical grounds. – Herald Scotland.

Ed Miliband: finding a voice on Big Society

Big Society

Labour was today quick to dismiss the prime minister’s pledge to deliver the “most dramatic redistribution of power from elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street”. This is what Ed Miliband told Radio 4: “This is essentially a 19th century or US-style view of our welfare state which is cut back the welfare state and somehow civic society will thrive.” – The Guardian on Big Society. 

Graduate Tax

Vince Cable, and according to Cable, the prime minister and the chancellor; the universities minister, David Willetts; the NUS and all Labour leadership contenders except David Miliband. –The Guardian on Graduate Tax Supporters.
In a letter to the climate secretary Chris Huhne, former climate secretary Ed Miliband called on the government to to stand up against “free-market zealots” and restore funding for green industries. “After helping to lead the debate in changing the balance of our economy in a more sustainable direction, you are now turning your back on green industry and risk undermining the UK’s growing reputation around the world for leadership in this field,” he wrote. “You claimed to be the ‘greenest government ever’ but so far you are turning your back on green jobs and green industry.” – The Guardian.


Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott has called on the Government to continue its aid efforts for Haiti. Ms Abbott tabled an Early Day Motion and requested a meeting with ministers to discuss how further help could be given to the tiny nation on the six month anniversary of the tragedy. – Hackney Gazette.

The idea of Stella and her husband, magazine publisher Alasdhair Willis, doing a Diane Abbott in reverse  –  dragging their children out of public schools to send them to the local state-education establishments to give them a better chance in life  –  is laughable. Jan Moir on Stella McCartney – Daily Mail.

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Laugh at the Tories, not the Big Society, says Andy Westwood

28/05/2010, 01:39:37 PM

It has been very easy to pour scorn on David Cameron’s big idea. I have done it myself. Launched in the election campaign, it bombed on the doorstep and among the media. Most people had little or no idea what he was talking about and those who did assumed that he was just trying to make something more substantial from his line about society not being the same thing as the state.

Mixed with its rejection of Margaret Thatcher’s anti-society stance and the implication that this was a changed, more compassionate Conservative party, this was the line that team Cameron thought would seal the deal with the electorate. It didn’t and he didn’t either.  It is fair to say that the Big Society still has some work to do to bring around the doubters.

And yet, it persists as one of the coalition’s big ideas. Cameron has relaunched it quickly with few changes – but this time from Downing Street and with more attention from the chattering classes than before. It reminded me a little of Cool Britannia, so we’ll forgive the curiosities of those who went along to listen and be photographed. (more…)

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