Public rejects Cameron’s “Big Society”

From all the evidence thus far, it appers that the "Big Society" is the Conservatives' answer to a question no one is asking.

“It is not clear that the public wants to accept Mr Cameron’s invitation for greater involvement and local control” – Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI. Proof, if further proof were needed, that the acronym BS does not always mean “Big Society” when discussing the woeful undergraduate essay that comprises the Tory manifesto, comes in no less a form than research conducted for the 2020 Public Services Trust by Ipsos MORI.

The Trust asked MORI to run discussion groups exploring what people value in public services. Whilst a full report won’t be available until next month, the results make interesting reading.

Significantly, and unhappily for Team Cameron, the outcome of the discussion groups and polling finds that the voters are “deeply attached … to the values of security and fairness which they see as underpinning public services” and that “politicians would undermine these at their peril”.

Additionally, whilst “voters might initially be attracted to big ideas … they soon start to question their practicality. What they are interested in is not so much vague principles but a more practical, concrete examples of how change might work.

Bad news for any party that’s produced a manifesto that’s big on vague. Additionally, as established by the Hansard Society’s 2009 Audit of Political Engagement and reported on Left Foot Forward previously, “whilst people like the idea of the big society, they are too busy doing other things to make it happen,” confirms MORI’s Ben Page.

His organisation’s findings indicate that whilst a large proportion say the public should be more involved in local and national decision making, only 5 percent want to actually participate in this and even fewer have actually done so in the past. This is reminiscent of the Audit’s 2009 finding that whilst 87 percent of people thought it “essential” or “important” to vote, only 53 percent said they were absolutely certain to do so.

The Trust is, refreshingly, less bleak than the Hansard Society in terms of its suggestions as to how the general public conception and approval of the “good citizen”, identified by both organsiations, can be turned into a practical reality although on a smaller scale than dreamed of in the “Big Society”.

It suggests that initially programmes to encourage greater citizen involvement in the provision of public services should be practical and specific, gradual and incremental, and start with newer non-core services. We await the full report with interest but it does appear, from all the evidence thus far, that the “Big Society” is the Conservatives’ answer to a question no one is asking.

Hat tip: Financial Times

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23 Responses to “Public rejects Cameron’s “Big Society””

  1. kay

    RT @HouseOfTwitsLab: RT @leftfootfwd Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society":

  2. Malcolm Evison

    Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society" | Left Foot Forward

  3. Andy Sutherland

    RT @leftfootfwd Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society": #GE2010 #GE10

  4. Jenni Jackson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society":

  5. Claire Louise French

    RT @leftfootfwd: Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society":

  6. HouseOfTwitsLab

    RT @leftfootfwd Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society":

  7. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society":

  8. Uncle Marvo

    RT @jenni_jackson: RT @leftfootfwd: Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society": << see 6/5 eh?

  9. yorkierosie

    RT @sinnaluvva: Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society" | Left Foot Forward

  10. Richard Blogger

    Here’s some figures to chew on. Our local NHS Foundation Trust hospital covers a population of 250,000, they have an opt-in policy for FT membership and now have about 6,000 members (2.4%). Of those only a quarter actually voted for their governors. This is not a great endorsement of community involvement that just 1,500 people out of 250,000 want to be involved in the simple task of choosing the governors.

    People want good public services provided by the people who know how to provide them (ie the NHS and LEA schools) they don’t want new, private providers and they don’t want a DIY approach.

  11. Michael Carré

    RT @leftfootfwd: Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society":

  12. Liberal Conspiracy » Monday 3rd May

    […] Sadie Smith: Public rejects Cameron’s “Big Society” […]

  13. Jeff Myers

    RT @leftfootfwd: Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society"

  14. Mr. Sensible

    I think this ‘big society’ amounts to privatization by stealth.

    I think we saw rhetoric like this during Mrs Thatcher’s time.

    And look at the results…

  15. Michael Evans

    RT @leftfootfwd: Public rejects Cameron's "Big Society"

  16. Graeme Kemp

    Of course – the Big society is just a Big Con. It simply means the good old Tory policy of cutting back the state and abandoning people who need help, benefitting only the rich.

  17. Bob Vant

    Do you want to see a survey contrasting life in one constituency under Tories and Labour?

    Excuse the raw amateurishness, but look up HOLME VALLEY SOUTH LABOUR PARTY and click on “Survey.”

    I reckon it contains an incontrovertible indictment of the Tory record. Please pass it on/round/ but especially UP if you have contacts at National Party level. We can tell the story of the whole country by looking round here.

    I’m not sharp on computer use, so if there’s any way you can think of to use IT to spread the message, be my guest!

    Bob Vant

  18. Liz McShane

    Big Society would not have sent those ships to Spain to bring back stranded British tourists.

  19. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Big society might not have done the Labour headless chicken bit and shut every airport. Bit like the 9 million swine flu inoculations they bought that were the wrong type and we were overcharged.

    ANYTHING has to be better than this current government Liz…

    btw You didn’t let me know if you were out wasting your life campaigning on behalf of David Lammy…

  20. Keith

    Ladbrokes are giving odds of 33-1 on a Labour win! Someone get on the Facebook and start a “Offset the tax hikes: Stick a tenner on Labour at 33-1 and then vote for them on Thursday” campaign…we only need 324 seats, and YouGov has us in the lead already. Round up the undecideds, get them down the bookies!

  21. Boscoe Bellistre the acronym of Big Society is BS, no coincidence there

  22. Audit 2010 Media Coverage - Hansard Society in the Media

    […] of Political Engagement has received lots of coverage in the media, some of which is listed below: Public rejects Cameron's "big society" – Left Foot Forward, Sunday 2 May 2010 Public "not sure it wants power" – […]

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