On the good ship Coalition it seems Admiral Cameron's attempt to sell us the Big Society idea is lurching through stormy waters.
This week Liverpool council gave Cameron a huge slap in the face after it withdraw its support for the new scheme.
Council leader, Joe Anderson complained that cuts of more than £100m would threaten existing voluntary organisations.
"How can the city council support the big society and its aim to help communities do more for themselves when we will have to cut the lifeline to hundreds of these vital and worthwhile groups?"
It's a good point well made.
The UK has for years relied on charities and voluntary groups to plug the gaps that governement fails to fill. It's alright asking people to do "more for less" in the private sector but asking more from volunteers is frankly,taking the piss.
Cameron would have you believe that:
"Human kindness, generosity and imagination are steadily being squeezed out by the work of the state."
Of course this is all just a bullshit smokescreen for the swingeing cuts that have been unveiled. It does nothing for the coalition reputation when their own Big Society tzar Francis Maude was caught with his pants down on Radio 4's Eddie Mair show:
Eddie Mair: And what volunteering do you do?
Francis Maude: I do… golly, what do I do? Umm, a whole load of things. I’m involved in my local church. Um, gosh, that’s a really unfair question cold. But actually the point is…
Eddie Mair: I think that given we’re talking about volunteering and how important it is, I thought you might be able to tell me. And not least because in your manifesto it says quote: “Our ambition is for every adult in the country to be a member of an active neighbourhood group.”
Francis Maude: Err, well I’m involved in things in my local community… Well, MPs spend their time involved with voluntary groups, umm…
Eddie Mair: Well that’s part of your job, you get paid for that. What else do you do?
Francis Maude: Well, we do it seven days a week kind of thing, so… Well, I do various things. It’s a great question to err… drop on me err…"
Typically, it seems to be a case as do as I say not do as i do.
I can just picture the scene as this marvellous idea came into being (cue harps and a dream sequence):
A warming log fire is blazing. In the House of Commons bar George Osborne and David Cameron are relaxing in a couple of tastefully upholstered Chesterfields with a fine brandy. Osbourne flicks through some important looking ministerial documents.
GO: "Damn and blast David, it seems we are clean out of money! Those Labour scoundrels have spent it all, the rotters!" How are we going to pay for the schools and the libraries?"
DC:: Hmmm..tricky one. Can we not just privatise them all?"
GO:" I think a privatised library is called a bookshop David"
DC: "O.K. How about getting a boat load of foriegners from the sub-continenent to work for peanuts?"
GO: "Not sure that will wash with the back-benches David. They have only just got used to employing Polish cleaners"
DC: "Good point. Well don't worry old bean we'll think of something. (contemplates whilst swirling brandy in his glass) I know ! We'll just get the plebs to do all that filthy work for free. The trick is to get them to do all this out of the goodness of their hearts."
GO : "It sounds like a jolly good wheeze old chap but how are we going to sell it to the great unwashed?"
DC: " Hmmmm...Eureka!...we'll call it the THE BIG SOCIETY. We'll pretend this is a new altrusitic era of enlightenment where we all help our fellow man. Besides after we've made them all unemployed we will need to give them something to do anyway. Also helping others does wonders for your self esteem..or so I'm told."
GO: "Spiffing,...if the natives start to get restless we'll pass it off as Cleggo's idea...another Curvoisier?