Saturday, 19 February 2011

Letter No 14: Stormy weather for the Big Society

Who hasn't been amazed by Dave's tenacity in hanging on so obstinately to his idea of the Big Society? Despite warnings from many respected experts in the field, that it's not possible to have a more caring society without the necessary funding to maintain it, he seems to be of the opinion that as long as he repeats himself, we will all fall into line and start volunteering. Ah well, now we're not campaigning about forests, more time to focus on people...  

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Letter No 13: How to find £120 billion each year

Posting off the last letter about the Black and White Party I was struck by the increasing disparity between rich and poor, and the damage done when politicians sidestep and fail to honour promises to the electorate. Wouldn't it be marvellous if we could change that, even a little? I'm convinced that by getting involved, we can. Letter 13 is my response to that as well as George's requests for members of the public to get in touch with ideas regarding cuts and kick-starting economic growth :

  You might want to check out the excellent PCS website. Mindful of the social as well as the financial deficit, their video newsletter sets out a credible and preferable alternative to the cuts that local councils will be forced to implement through Dave's ideological plan to shrink the public sector. I think it's important that we all keep pointing out alternatives to the Conservative led Coalition; at least then they can see we're trying to work with them. Also, if Dave's going to turn, better that he's going in the right direction. With that in mind I'll be attending the March for the Alternative in London next month and it'd be lovely see you there.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Letter No 12: While we watch, the Tory Party party

What did you do last night? Watched the news, had a bit of supper and possibly did a few household chores? You might have tuned into "Dispatches: Tabloids Dirty Secrets" on Channel 4; or maybe you switched over to BBC3 and watched "Young, Jobless and Living at Home" and then there was Francis Maude explaining The Big Society (and being argued out of his seat by Camila Batmanghelidjh) on Newsnight.  After all that though, I bet like me you wanted a bit of light relief, a distraction from the austerity... Did anyone out there manage to get hold of ticket to "the highlight of the Tory calendar"? No? But then like me, you probably don't have £400 - £1000 spare to buy one either, so just in case you're interested, here's what Dave and most of the other Tory Cabinet members got up to last night while we were supposedly "all in this together"  

P.S. Funnily enough, reading the Sunday Mail one week on, I still feel a bit like we're being left out....

Friday, 4 February 2011

Letter No 11: Not enough of the pie to go around

At Christmas I wrote to Dave and Nick about CAB funding. I'd been talking to my Dad who was involved in local politics for many years. Like much of my family, he still lives in Liverpool and since retirement has volunteered in the community without need for any brainwave or rebrand from Westminster. He told me that the city was steeling itself for tough times. As far as I can see it's not the only one and when last week's news came of 1500 redundancies in a city that heads the deprivation list of English councils, I knew the time had come to put in a word for my birthplace.

Dave's call for "people power" came to mind when it was announced yesterday evening that Liverpool had decided to withdraw from the 'Big Society' pilot scheme. It follows a clear message sent by faith groups in December last year. The Government's response to Liverpool's decision was also predictable, though a bit of an own goal as far as I can see. Damien Green was right that someone had made a 'political gesture,' but not Liverpool; you'd have to go way back to July 10 to find out who that was. People aren't fooled; the success of Big Society will always be dependent on sufficient funding rather than volunteers and the evidence comes topdown if Lord Wei is anything to go by. Set up to work alongside drastic cuts to council funding, the scheme looks like a cynical attempt to get for free something which should be provided by appropriately funded public and voluntary sectors. And after all, how many cabinet ministers  are out supporting their local good cause or museum after a hard week in Westminster?
But we are still left with the problem of the cuts and George's friend 'Tina' or, 'there is no alternative'. I disagree; as mentioned in my letter, Dave Nick and George should check out the options put forward by False Economy; they'll find plenty there for that Plan B everyone keeps talking about.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Shock horror, a response from Nick's office...

 This was waiting for me at the studio this morning:
While it's good to get a reply, neither Ben nor I have had answers to either of the questions put to Nick in letters 2 and 3. It is a stock response sent out probably to thousands of people(by now

). Points trotted out every time Dave or Nick are challenged on Higher Education, regardless of the questions posed. I think I'll write again and press for proper answers. If there's anything you think that needs to be included, please leave a message in the comments box.