Prime minister needs to be careful what he wishes for

Prime minister David Cameron

Prime minister David Cameron

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Let us give David Cameron the benefit of the doubt – even though the benefit has to be considerable because the doubt is so enormous.

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that he really does believe in the ‘Big Society’ idea and that it’s not simply a clumsy attempt to deflect attention from the pain his spending cuts are starting to inflict.

My first concern is that this personal vision had to be relaunched, which suggests it sank first time round.

My second concern is the strident tone of exasperation Cameron is beginning to adopt whenever he discusses the subject.

It gives the impression he has already had a tough time getting it through a wary Cabinet and is becoming impatient with the similar scepticism with which it is now being received by the public at large.

My third concern is his use of the word ‘mission.’ Beware politicians with a mission because it means they are invariably blinded to the realities of life.

My fourth concern is his use of the word ‘passionate’.

Beware politicians who are passionate about their mission because they think we are the ones blinded to the realities of life.

David Cameron says the Big Society is a plan to get individuals and communities to take more responsibility for themselves, and in doing so improve their quality of life.

This opens up some intriguing possibilities – not all of them as idealised as Mr Cameron might wish.

For example, what if a group of fit young fathers got together to deal once and for all with the problem of teenage scumbags who make life in their street a nightmare every evening?

How would the local constabulary react to this attempt by decent people to take more responsibility for their community and improve their quality of life?

The prime minister must accept the Big Society is not just about gentlefolk running their own libraries or local co-operatives getting together to take on Tesco.

There are far more fundamental actions required to improve society – big or otherwise – and he should be careful what he wishes for.

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