Friday, August 27, 2010

Labour Party Needs Its Civil Society Fix

Labour Party addicted to big government

As British Prime Minsiter David Cameron continues to slowly roll out his Big Society policy package, the Labour Party has evidently found itself at odds with the new government's views on civil society.

Following a party audit of the to-date relesed or promised Big Society policies, the Labour party claims the policy is undermining civil society in Britain.

Labour has identified what they believe are core policy areas for the Big Society, and have pointed out that the Tories have cut 6% of the funding to these areas. Among these cuts are:

-370 million Pounds for the Future Jobs program, which had pledged to create 200,000 jobs, including 120,000 job grants for civil society organizations.
-95 million Pounds from affordable housing.
-14 million Pounds from the Youth Commnity Action programme.
-7 million Pounds from the Prevent programme -- designed to combat violent political extremism.
-4 million Pounds from the Cohesion programme -- a program to do pretty much the same thing as Prevent.

"What people want is not the vacuous promise of a big society but a good society where everybody does their bit and is helped to do so to improve their community and create benefits for everyone," said Tessa Jowell, Labour's shadow Cabinet Office minister insisted. "But a big society that cuts people loose, leaving them to stand on their own, will never work."

The detail that Labour lost the 2010 election, and so can hardly claim to know what Britons want, is one thing.

Labour's clear big government vision of civil society is entirely another.

Each of Labour's criticisms can easily be answered in kind:

-First off, a civil society organization that is funded by the government is not really a civil society organization: it's a QUANGO.
-Many communities, such as Crosby Ravensowrth, are funding their own affordable housing projects.
-The Prevent Programme was a particularly troubled one that had been caught spying within the communities in which it was active.
-The Cohesion Programme seems to have been a duplication in efforts from the Prevent Programme.

The Labour party has made its view on civil society quite clear: it prefers a big government approach so thorough that arms of its so-called civil society policy can even justify espionage against the communities in which they operate.

If Prime Minister Cameron were to embrace that particular vision, it would ultimately be self-defeating toward the goals of the Big Society programme.

Fortunately, David Cameron doesn't seem to share Labour's addiction to big government.

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