The big society is defined by many in this House [of Lords] as being what most of them have done for most of their lives. It is a volunteering, social action, philanthropic approach to life, but it is also about the opening up of public services to local control and devolution of power.The comments following the report in ConHome are revealingly superficial. The fact remains that devolution of power involves, in the first instance, giving up control to local authorities whose corruption and unfitness for purpose is notorious. The only real devolution of power is to reduce the role and cost of government and to cut taxes, so that people can vote with their own money rather than with debased and devalued ballots.
Since that is not going to happen, the "Big Society" is simply a PR gloss on the pious hope that the British people actually want to take control over their lives instead of demanding that in return for high levels of taxation the state should take all the hard decisions - how to raise their children, how to manage their health and how to look after their elderly relatives.
Cameron and Co. are certainly right to argue that a revolution in public attitudes is essential to break out of the welfarist death-spiral. But they are equally certainly wrong to think it can be brought about by preaching de haut en bas from a tainted pulpit.
If they really wanted to institute devolution, they would start by repatriating the powers of self-government surrendered willingly by the British political elite to the unelected, unaccountable EU bureaucracy. Since they are not going to do it, their commitment to devolution is a sham and their dishonesty patent.