I’m concerned for the Big Society. On paper it looked so good. By increasing the ranks of the unemployed, you create an army of people with lots of time on their hands, who can then volunteer to provide the public services you just cut. It’s hard to believe that it is going wrong, especially as the first part of the plan has been so successful, but going wrong, apparently, it is.
It is clear that the BS needs a big win: some high profile success to demonstrate that it is not the deluded fantasy of a deranged government. So, in the spirit of the Big Society, I am offering this blog as a “think tank” to “crowd-source” ideas.
One of the problems with the BS is that the services that we are expecting to be provided by volunteers are not the ones that anyone wants to do. By aligning Big Society services with people’s aspirations, we can unleash the potential of this great society of ours. To get things moving, here are a few ideas.
1. Ministerial Security
Currently millions of pounds are spent protecting government ministers from terrorism, etc. What few realise is that there is already a volunteer organisation dedicated to protecting the country from such threats. Calling itself the English Defence League, it is pledged to combat extremism. Having seen these civic minded folk round my home in Stoke, I can attest that they appear to have both plenty of spare time and an appropriately fearsome aspect. I cannot imagine any organisation to whom I would rather entrust David Cameron’s safety.
2. Economic Policy Advice
The government pays Civil Servants and outside advisors huge sums for this. Meanwhile on the Guardian’s Comment is Free such services are provided by a huge untapped resource of unpaid commenters. It is difficult to gauge their qualifications, but they certainly seem jolly confident. And it’s not as if the professionals have set the bar that high.
3. Disposal of Evidence
The government currently pays to destroy the drugs, weapons and counterfeit goods seized as criminal evidence. I understand that there are “blokes down the pub” in all major conurbations, who would be happy to “take them off our hands, gratis and for nothing” on a “no questions asked” basis. A Big Society win win.
4. Tax Collection
Working as unpaid bailiffs, my team of BS irregulars are ready to collect goods in lieu of payment from Vodafone, Arcadia Group, et al and redistribute them to more worthy recipients, unencumbered by the dead hand of government.
As our Prime Minister has so perceptively said, “we are all in this together”. The Big Society is, in a very real sense, all of us. So it’s over to you. Comment below, or tag your contribution #BSIdeas on Twitter.