‘The Big Society’ is being unveiled by the Conservative/Lib-dem government, the main spokesperson being the Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, whose political campaign dream it was.

The largest society work force will be volunteers, any kind, from all age groups and educational levels. They will be volunteering instead of earning salaries; many will be building up C.V.’s of experience, to help them move on to what? More volunteering, training volunteers to volunteer, while remaining as a volunteer. So, the big society will be a huge population of people in unpaid community activity. What is going to be the definition of activity in the community?

When everyone has become a volunteer, managed and mentored by volunteers who in turn will likely be managed by paid directors, dying to skill up all these volunteers to take a director’s role, (not on your life!) where will the government purse obtain its income from?

You would expect that there has been government preparation for the daily survival for this massive army of unpaid people; of course you would if you were in charge of it. There has to be a strategy, doesn’t there, to run alongside the reconstruction – or is it destruction – of ways of earning a reasonable living, such as realistically remunerated employment opportunities.



  1. I’ve always been uneasy about this ‘big society’ thing and suspect it of meaning that the government will simply withdraw funding from those who most need it.

    Mind you, if they do think that voluntary community projects are the way to go, and are prepared to let us draw down some money for the things we want to do – oh yes, I’m all for that!

  2. I am in general agreement with your first paragraph.

    We have already seen the volunteer route; it has usually meant less money and more required at obligatory standards. It is an executive abnegation of any responsibility. It is another form of outsourcing.

    If, (a big ‘if’) a draw down of money is truly equal, that I doubt, the idea might have some merits. There is no doubt, there will be less financial support for the current needy and the new needy. There will be huge numbers of the new needy.

  3. Your thoughts on coercion may well be about right.

    There will be an avalanche of homeless volunteers evolving with no charitably run hostels to resort to, because of the cut backs in funding now and the closures dating back to Maggie Thatcher time in office.

    In my lifetime, the first street sleepers and beggars in London, in any noticeable numbers, appeared during Thatcher’s reconstruction of a non-existent society.

  4. You are right there. You don’t have to think back too far for that in the U.K. Other countries are worth observing, though culturally, they are likely to demonstrate their ire differently

  5. i’m not an expert, or a huge fan, but i think focussing just on volunteering is taking a narrow view of what cameron is proposing. i like the principle of less government and i’ll be interested to see how it develops!

  6. Ire has not usually been expressed with machete armies and burning out whole communities. We have had a constant flow of violent gang crime reports from big cities, partly because of the unusual nature of the behaviour for the UK. Disaffected youth could become more usual, sad to say

    There was a variety of Poll Tax resistance, marches and non-payment. What we have had are major protests with police crack down, we saw that in the Miners’ strike of the 1980’s. with Government blessing and some more recent build up, admittedly, for other reasons.

  7. You can’t help but focus on volunteering, as the focus is being placed upon it by the various spokespeople who are fielded by government, including the leader.

    I am pretty sure the test-bed areas for the big idea will get a lot of input that will become less forthcoming on a wider roll-out. Forgive my cynicism, I have seen something similar in the U.K. already.

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