Whatever a dead loss David Cameron is generally, one thing he was right about was the need to reinvigorate the "little platoons" of the voluntary society: social atomisation has been one of the saddest and most socially destructive trends on the past few decades, both because of the personal isolation it has caused and also because New Labour's Big State stepped in to fill the gaps, sapping community initiative and self confidence, as well bankrupting the country in the process.
Where Cameron got it spectacularly wrong was to believe that something
that is by its nature bottom-up, organic and incremental could be
presented as a top-down, big picture vision to the electorate. Not
surprisingly people were left baffled and bemused. Cameron's obsession
with the concept is widely credited with the failure of the Tory Party
to win a majority at the last election.
But belatedly, people are beginning to get it. Voluntarism was rightly
praised as a major factor in a successful Olympics. There are other
straws in the wind as well, such as rises in Church attendance.
Now social media seems to be about to turbo-charge these trends. New social sharing sites such as streetbank.com and zipcar are creating a new ethic of collective consumerism,
where individuals will share resources and skills to build more
organic, cohesive communities. However much we may mourn our declining
individual material wealth, it must be regarded as a good thing that
people are prepared to leave their silos, look over their high fences
and finally get to know their neighbours.
It will also in the long term help our economy. For far too long our
economy and society has been driven by a rampant, shallow consumerism,
fuelled in part by a feeling of spiritual emptiness and lack of meaning
many people feel to their lives. Under New Labour it became a runaway
train, and as we all know we have know racked up huge personal,
corporate and government debts that will take decades to unwind.
The consumerist model is now plainly unsustainable, and voluntary
sharing of our resources within organic communities will be an important
part of enhancing our lives, both materially and spiritually, in the
years ahead. UKIP can help drive this process by emphasising a genuine
commitment to localism and getting involved at a local community level.
Secondly, the party should commit itself to reversing the morally
grotesque nationalisation of the charity sector: under the New Labour
government, huge numbers of fake charities were set up to do the governments bidding in a covert way and also provide jobs for the boys and girls.
Both the Big State and shallow consumerist societies are widely seen to
have failed, as have the LibLabCon parties which oversaw the rise of
these malign trends over several decades. Driven by both economic
necessity and information technology, the society slowly replacing it
will plainly be very different from the one that most of us have known
all our lives, and the people within it maybe willing to vote for new
political parties who offer a fresh vision and approach. Now that our
exit from the EU is arguably within sight, UKIP may also need a new
direction in the years ahead, and should be prepared to meet that
Monday, 17 September 2012
The Internet is Making the Big Society a Reality