I think I might have become a fan of the Big Society. Not because I think it’s brilliant (although at least some bits of it do make sense), but because it’s incredibly difficult to describe. Things that are difficult to describe make life tricky for journalists and commentators (let alone civil servants and junior ministers) and result in fantastic similies and metaphors – rich in both imagery and variety.
While the policy (is it a policy? Or a slogan?) may seem destined to die a slow and painful death, at least it has had us all working hard to sum up what the hell it actually means. Oddly I think this trend may have actually started in earnest with Nick Clegg who, long before he realised he might one day have to defend it, said that David Cameron’s pet project was ‘a bit like a party in a pub where your card is behind the bar’. It was a joke, I think, but it also presaged a golden era of ‘the Big Society is a bit like’ creations.
In the hope that this creativity is not lost, I have started to collect what I’ve spotted on Delicious. Below I’ve listed the best. Admittedly not all are direct comparisons – some are simply associations. A good many are excellent articles that do very well to describe what might be behind some aspects of the Big Society. And possibly one or two others are just plain mad, even quite stupid. I hope you enjoy them all.
The Big Society is a bit like…
Cool Britannia (Anthony Zacharazewski, The Democratic Society).
Downton Abbey (Deborah Orr, The Guardian).
Harry Hill’s TV Burp (The Waugh Room, Politics Home).
The Great Society (Chris, Prerogative of Harlots).
Communism. Yes, that’s right, communism. (From the David Icke forum. Hmmm… the places I get.)
Bullshit (Anne Shooter, Daily Mail).
A toy town (Hillary Wainright, The Guardian Cif blog).
Oliver Twist (Mike McNabb, Outside Left).
The 1950s (Statement from Unite the Union).
Common sense (Janet Daley, The Telegraph).
A cloak (Ed Miliband, The Independent).
Ballroom dancing (Phil Redmond).
Education, education, education (The Archbishop Cranmer blog).