David Cameron: ‘Big society’ is here to stay

David Cameron: ‘Big society’ is here to stay

David Cameron gave a speech today defending the ‘big society’:

“Let me make one thing absolutely clear: I’m not going to back down from what I believe in just because of a few bad headlines. The ‘big society’ is my mission in politics. It’s what I want us – as a country – to build. Together. And I’m going to fight for it every day, because the ‘big society’ is here to stay.

“I don’t want the story of this government to be just an economic recovery. I want it to be a social recovery too. Because for all the action we’ve taken on pulling our economy from the brink, our society still hangs there. As I’ve said many times, our society is broken and we need to fix it – and the ‘big society’ will help us do that.

“I think our broken society all comes back to one word: responsibility. Put simply, there’s not enough of it. Too many people have stopped taking responsibility for their lives and for the people around them. Why? Now I don’t think this has happened because we’ve somehow become bad people. I think at its core, it’s the consequence of years and years of big government. As the state got bigger and more powerful, it took away from people more and more things that they should and could be doing for themselves, for their families and their neighbours. It’s the culture of rules, targets, laws, tick boxes and perverse signals that pay people to sit on the sofa rather than go to work. In this world, people start asking themselves: ‘Do I have no responsibility for my life? Do I not count for anything anymore? Do my decisions not matter one bit?’ Too often the answer is no.

“The ‘big society’ is how we’ll fix our broken society, how we’ll strengthen families, how we’ll bring communities together. And the big question we have to ask ourselves is this: do we want a country where politicians, bureaucrats and the powers-that-be treat everyone like children who are incapable of taking their own decisions and taking responsibility for their lives? Or do we want a country where we treat adults like adults, and give them more power and more responsibility over their lives? The ‘big society’ is not a government initiative. It’s about giving you the initiative – to take control of your life and work with friends, neighbours and colleagues to improve things around you.”