The Big Society is Dead -Long Live the Shared Society

Prime Ministers have always, or at least in my lifetime, thought up rather tiresome snappy slogans which are meant to encapsulate all they stand for. The most recent was David Cameron’s unintelligible “Big Society”. Mrs May has buried the big society and replaced it with the “Shared Society”. I wonder what she means.

I must not be too hard on Mrs May. As I have, no doubt tediously, often pointed out before, she is not really a politician. By that I mean that she has never knowingly, at least before becoming Prime Minister, revealed in public (or even in private I suspect) any political principles by which she is guided. She now wishes to put that right. In tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph (no link because of the new paywall) she seeks to tell us what we can expect from her.

Anyone reading her article should bear in mind that it is plainly motivated by a desire to get Labour supporters to vote Conservative. It is long on anti-Tory rhetoric and short on details of policy (she still thinks it very foolish to let us know what she is actually going to do). It may be that we shouldn’t take it too seriously. The theme, as with her speech to the Tory conference, is that we need big government. The individual is no longer important. Government can cure all ills. Her message is summarised in these words: “people who are just managing – just getting by – don’t need a government that will get out of the way. They need an active government that will step up and champion the things that matter to them.”

The Prime Minister proposes that government intervention should be aimed not just at helping the poor but at helping those on the next rung of the ladder up, those who are “just managing, just getting by”. She wants the elderly (she thinks we are all very rich) to be made poorer so the young can be made richer. She wants London’s wealth to be redistributed to the provinces. Above all she wants the role played by the state in our lives to be increased, not reduced.

What I find most odd about Mrs May’s conversion to big government is her professed belief that those of us who voted to leave the EU did so because we wanted more not less, government.

As I say, she may not really mean any of this nonsense. She has always been more interested in winning elections than in what to do after the victory. Those of us who are Tories must hope that her article is no more than a plea to Labour supporters to vote Conservative.



7 thoughts on “The Big Society is Dead -Long Live the Shared Society

  1. people who are just managing – just getting by – don’t need a government that will get out of the way. They need an active government that will step up and champion the things that matter to them.”
    Goodness me – this does sound interventionist. If I didn’t know any better, it would suggest to me a carefully scripted justification from those who’s job it is to help the government to function. – – the civil servants, the career people who support the administration at its highest levels could well be providing a helping hand to Mrs Mays speech writers. Ah well, just idle speculation.


  2. Charles, I have a question. You mention the poor and the people on the next rung up who are just getting by. I’m curious where the people who are being shipped into Britain with no skills and no hope of being productive, where do they fall? Under the poor or above the one’s just making it who are probably being taxed for the up keep of the new arrivals?


  3. Well put Charles. So far as I can see, it is a fair summary of Mrs May to-date.
    What is her ‘big government’ doing for Southern Rail users? TM should be doing to the railwaymen, what MT did to the miners. As in that case, the communistic union leaders are causing chaos, purely for some bizarre political reason.
    And likewise, if she is so concerned about the dispossessed amongst our people and the NHS, why is she continuing to allow Foreign Aid on such a scale? The donations to a country with a space programme and another for an Ethiopean female pop-group are just examples of civil servants/ministers losing the plot.
    And so to Brexit. An incontestable democratic decision from over 17M people, is still hanging in the air, whilst TM tries to do the impossible – -‘pleasing all of the people all of the time’.
    If the Labour party had a decent leader, she would be having a much harder time. Maybe that’s it – she’s wallowing in the warm bath of Corbynism and needs say very litttle.

    Liked by 1 person

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