Diane Abbott set out her own vision of civic society in the thoughtful constraints of the type of community in which she lives in a speech titled The "Big Society" is a ‘big con’ at Policy Exchange this morning.
Diane Abbott set out her own vision of civic society in the thoughtful constraints of the type of community in which she lives in a speech titled The “Big Society” is a ‘big con’ at Policy Exchange this morning. There was little mention of the Labour leadership race – other than saying it “has not exactly been Pop-Idol”, adding that the competition had not given the contestants enough of a platform or time to examine big ideas.
Ms Abbott discussed the differences between the Big Society and Labour’s communitarian and cooperative traditions and her experience of the community she lives in and represents in Parliament.
She was quick to distance the future of the Party from New Labour, having criticised Tony Blair yesterday for the timing of the release of his memoirs; she said:
“Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ is probably doomed to join Tony Blair’s ‘Third Way’ in the graveyard of spurious pseudo-philosophical ideas… to mask their underlying policies.”
Society’s woes cannot be solved by throwing money at them or through the state alone, she said, explaining the mutual responsibility of individuals as well as the state, discussing her experience of growing up in a family and community of immigrants and the problems that a lack of male role models for young men can cause.
“The state has been able to improve infrastructure, preside over a stratospheric rise in property prices and has brought down unemployment in inner city areas all over the country. Fixing family structures and community relationships has proved more challenging.”
Diane’s presence in the leadership debate throughout the competition has been minimal, in part because of the ‘daily soap opera’ coverage of the Miliband brothers. Throughout, she has been quoted as calling her fellow contestants “geeks in suits” and commenting on money ruling the election. The Guardian recently claimed that Diane had said that David Miliband’s large number of staff (apparently paid for with “old Blairite money”) has outweighed her “two-and-a-half volunteers” and that:
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“You do get very, very tired when you are facing those sort of odds….there is no doubt that money is making a huge difference in the election.”