When Cameron started talking about his big idea, otherwise known as the big society I think most people thought that he was advocating a lot of fluffy duffy stuff like running a tidy towns group or a cake sale on the village green. However its becoming a little more obvious that what he actually meant was getting people to do the very things the public services have traditionally done, just so his millionaire buddies can pay a bit less in taxes.
There were accusations this week that various crimes, notably car crime, burglary and property damage and pickpocketing are among a number of crimes have effectively been decriminalised. The police do not have the resources (thanks to Tory cuts) to investigate these crimes anymore, indeed some forces have been accused of not even recording such crimes. One cannot help but wonder if this also had an impact on events in Rotherham, where rape allegations were systematically ignored for years.
Naturally this is somewhat at odds with the standard Tory mantra of getting tough on crime. The problem is the Tories want to have a tough policing policy, but without paying for it. And this is no bolt from the blue, previously back in 2010 Cameron floated the idea of DIY policing with members of the public going on patrol with the police .until someone pointed out to him that this sounded very similar to the plot of Police Academy 4! :))
I wonder if well see a new proliferation of TV shows much like the Equaliser or the A team whereby victims of crime are helped to solve them…only these will be in the format of a fly on the wall documentary following a bunch of vigilantes around!
And of course its not just policing. Tory cut backs have also meant that the big society has led to other DIY activity, such as looking after the elderly because the cuts eliminated the day centre. We university lecturers have been effectively turned into border guards, as we have been told to monitor Tier 4 students (that is students from outside the EU) on the off chance that, despite paying many tens of thousands a year in fees and living expenses (and the fact that many of them already have well paid jobs back home), they might suddenly feel the urge to run off and work in a chip shop for minimum wage.
Again, the Tories want strict border controls, but dont want to have to hire and pay the staff needed to enforce these policies. And btw if Im supposed to be a border guard in my spare time, wheres my hat, high-vis jacket and torch? |-|
And the chaos in Libya, Syria and Iraq largely boils down to a failure of the West to intervene in a timely manner in these crises, even though some (notably Iraq) were largely a mess of the Wests making. Instead the West relied on a big society DIY warfare approach which, surprise, surprise has backfired badly with warlords taking over.
In short Big society seems to be short hand for the government abdicating all responsibility for anything.