Sunday, 27 February 2011

So How Nasty Are The Tories?

This is in response to a comment by a reader about my ‘Big Society’ blog posting of February 13, 2011. Like most arguments from the Left or UKUnCut, the comment appears to take the default setting of ‘Oppose the Tories regardless’. The usual generalized assertions are made, however being from someone whose opinion I admire greatly, there is a great deal in it that I agree with. Excerpts from the comment are italicized and in orange. The comment in its entirety can be seen at the end of the said post.

David Cameron is not clear about what The Big Society is: Probably. The message does appear muddled and confused. You are right when you say the Big Society has always been here, quietly and not making a fuss, but around us and with us in our Communities and does not need reinventing. I agree. But it does need reinvigorating and reiterating. And it’s not big enough. The ambiguousness of the name doesn't make it an easy sell and I will admit, it has been a sitting target for naysayers and sceptics, who roll their eyes as they would over a pun in the Sun. But as you say, it has triggered a national debate about our communities and the part that we play in them, and for this alone, I am interested. Good. At least we’re talking.

You say that my interpretation of the Big Society is personal responsibility and a sense of duty. For so many, this is inherent in their way of life. It doesn’t need to be said that we engage with our children, our parents or our neighbours. In suburbia, maybe. There are sections of our society that include benefit dependent families but there are some people who would rather die than take benefit. Of course there are. I know some. And that’s the problem – I know some, not many. In my 11-years in the UK and because of the work I do, I would have touched 30,000 lives, directly or indirectly – I have found little evidence to suggest that a sense of responsibility exists. The benefit system is more hammock than safety net for more people than anyone from the Left will admit. I get the feeling we inhabit completely different worlds. The growing underclass of benefit dependants and feckless individuals, completely neutered by years of molly coddling by an all pervasive state is a problem you are probably sheltered from. I live among them. I work with them. I try and help them. The rot is deeper than you think and is quite perversely tolerated and even celebrated. Here’s an interesting take on one of Aesop’s fables to illustrate this.

We have always been in debt; borrowing more than we receive. Why? Does it occur to anyone to think why that is even acceptable? For how much longer is that sustainable? Shouldn't we stop to consider that? The government can’t make money – only the private sector can. We already pay £120 Million a day in interest payments. Each day we wake up and whether we achieve something or not, whether we produce anything or not, whether it’s a weekend or bank holiday, our government owes another £120,000,000.00 regardless of its ability to pay it. And that’s just to stand still. The money we owe stays the same. If we do not make moves to show we’re doing something about it, the credit scoring of the nation could be affected. This could mean higher interest rates and the £120,000,000.00 climbs yet higher. It’s not like the Left do not know or comprehend the scale. It’s just them thinking of the here and now. About themselves. Their generation. The next election. Each child under the age of 10 in this country will enter working age with a debt far greater than at any point in history. I think that’s mighty selfish of the wilful deficit deniers. Some estimates state that the first 2 months of the year everything we earn goes to the state. With each expanding deficit year, this will rise. How long before it’s 3 months, 4 months, or even 8 months? Now how would you define bonded labour? Or slavery? Okay, that’s a bit dramatic – but then isn’t living in the la-la land of borrowed money taking us there? It has to end before it ends us. The Left often accuse the Tories of living in a bubble, but they are closer to reality than you think. Actually it is the Left that are living in ivory towers – what are we waiting for? Divine intervention? Foundation X? Reality check please!

Vodaphone! Philip Green! I hear you say. Of course, how can there be a discussion about taxes without discussing the evil and greedy economic engines, which are responsible for all the real jobs in this country. If all, yes ALL tax avoidance, (which as I pointed out – is legal, not a crime and in accordance with the law of the land) were stopped by changing taxation laws, it still wouldn't make a dent in the size of our debt. We are living beyond our means on an unimaginable scale. And there’s also the risk of losing our competitive advantage to countries where a strong work ethic is not dulled by the ‘all must win prizes’ attitude in the United Kingdom. Actually we started losing that with the introduction of the National Minimum Wage. Strange beast, the NMW; it rises each year, adding to costs and therefore inflation, necessitating further rises, and the cycle continues. We’re world beaters in the international widget market, but it’s only a matter of time before the kids in Mumbai and Bangalore start making them in their college dorms. We have few industries with an international standing. Apart from financial services and banking. Ouch! Some research on how much the financial sector contributes to the exchequer will reveal a shocking number. Some wealthy individuals/corporations are socially responsible and give back to the societies where their wealth originated; some would rather play the game of avoidance. Good for the ones that do and more power to them. But for the ones that don’t this is a personal morality issue. Surely you’re not suggesting we force donations out of people. They’re saving as much as the law allows them to. Corporations are nothing but individuals in self-interest groups, and like any other self-interest group, they think differently. More on this further below.

Labour during it’s time, has introduced hundreds of initiatives (read: attempts at social engineering), most of them half-baked, untried and untested – and mostly theoretical, each one undoing the work of the other, each one undermining the individual, removing any sense of responsibility rendering them completely and utterly dependent on the state, each one allegedly fighting an imaginary or perceived malaise, depending on which vested interest peddled the case for it. The pervasive sense of automatic entitlement is a direct result of this. For example, are race relations any better as a result of the much championed racism ‘industry’? Many borrowed millions later, all we’ve achieved in this country is the creation of a class of politicians, public servants and self-styled community champions that suck the state for all its worth. No, they feed off it. Divide and rule, fine tuned for the new century. Paid for by my children and their children.

Against this backdrop, the spending cuts are essential. There may be room for compromise but for most part many of the baubles and things we cannot afford will have to go. Good ideas when we could afford them, but no longer viable when we can’t. Compromise does not mean the government should give in to all self-interest groups. You talk of people moving to "protect their local communities" as though they are being plundered. I think that is alarmist and irresponsible. There are cuts across the board and it is something we all have to live with. There will be pain, as there is with any kind of austerity program. When I have a low income, piano lessons for my daughter are the last thing on my mind. Rent, food and school are more important. You cite the example of the forests - a U-turn is not a defeat. The government floated an idea the public said no. There was no outcry when the Labour government sold large tracts, there was no consultation then. But then Tory-bashing is much more fashionable, isn’t it?  

Spreading the pain (as opposed to spreading the debt) is not always easy in a democracy. Local authorities and government departments, QUANGOs and charities, unions and community groups are all run by people. Collectively they become self-interest groups. This is where it starts going all wrong. They start acting in self-preservation, whatever the cost, regardless of whether their actions bear any resemblance to realities on the ground. Their only purpose becomes their continued existence and overriding importance. Like religion.

Take the case of Local Authorities or even the NHS. They’ve lost sight of the fact that they are a customer focused business (for want of a better word). More money is spent on the managerial, administrative and back office functions than on front line services. Strangely, the wages at the sharp end (the customer facing roles, loss prevention, etc) are significantly lower than the pen-pushing, bean-counting jobs. When the axe falls, where are the cuts made? The front line of course! So when your local hospital cuts a few nurses out of their staff, it wasn’t David Cameron who made the decision – it was management looking after itself.

It’s same with local authorities. Some have even seen salaries at the top rise while making cuts further down below. See examples here, here and here. There is suggestion that some authorities are using this opportunity to cut essential services, knowing fully well the blame will fall on the government. I believe that to be true.

Contrast this with what I have done. Business is down to 40% mainly due to spending cuts. The directors including myself have halved our wages. There have been some redundancies – mostly back office and management staff. What has remained intact are the teaching and training staff and their salaries – the lifeblood and sharp end of my business. Some of them have taken on additional responsibilities, picking up new qualifications and skills because of it. I have increased my workload to fill the gaps, roped in my wife and son to chip in when they can. We’re saving on paper, electricity, have asked the landlord for a rent rebate – and he said yes, we have asked the Labour controlled local authority for a rates rebate – we’ve heard nothing yet, I don’t think we ever will. We’re going to come out of this alive and well, leaner and meaner, better skilled and much, much stronger for it. Without whinging.

Oh, and my second centre is in a different borough, where the Tory-led council is running a scheme whereby new businesses get an 18-month holiday on business rates. This could help me pay for a member of staff I would not have hired otherwise.

There are aspects of societal decline that you mention such as binge drinking & cheap television that, for me, began with the greedy “gimme gimme” nation of the Thatcher years. It may be linked intrinsically to accessibility, but not wholly. I blame the lack of responsibility, a whole generation failed by the watered down education system and the ease with which is it possible to survive without working – for generations. If Cameron wanted to be truly paternalistic, no, he doesn’t. He shouldn’t. If anything, he’d like to dismantle the nanny-state. People need to start thinking for themselves. Up till now they’ve had no reason to. Molly coddling hasn’t helped. Perhaps tough love will. Hence the Big Society.

Career politicians cannot truly represent us, until they have been one of us. If a less elitist man, who’d shown empathy with the working man through his background and his working life, rallied our country through tough economic times by calling for us to all be in this together and to engage more in our communities, then he would have more credibility. As it is, his words ring hollow. I disagree. I am of the opinion that due to the influence of more centrist Tories, the LibDem partners in the coalition, the vastly influential lobbies of self-interest groups and an extremely narrow election win in a nation hooked on sustenance by the state, David Cameron is not going as far as he probably could. Or should. He has a huge task on his hands. And no, he does not have the heritage of the Thatcher years to address. There’s a more urgent legacy that needs undoing. Labour’s. Besides economics is just one of the functions of a leader. I’d rather have a well-educated, erudite well presented statesman and diplomat represent me and my country in the world than any rabid communist.

Be careful what you wish for though, a less elitist man, who’d shown empathy with the working man through his background and his working life would be nothing like David Cameron. Anyone who after a ‘working man’s life’ worked his or her way up to being leader of the largest party in the country and then ended up as Prime Minister, would not be as kind and forgiving. The scale of waste and irrelevant spending would shock someone with more modest origins. Like a certain greengrocer’s daughter for example. Or think Alan Sugar, think Apprentice, think “You’re Fired!” Yes, yes I know he’s a Labour Peer. I’ll bet inside he’s more surprised at it than I am. What would follow would make David Cameron’s cuts look like keyhole surgery.

The world you describe exists, only it’s in individual bubbles, within little gated communities in expanses of green far removed from the kind of communities I know live. I say live, ‘exist’ is probably more fitting. They’re like zombies, numbed by what the state has done to them. I read many, many reports on poverty, economic dependence, worklessness, etc that cost thousands to produce and none of them look anything like the grey gritty street they’re meant to be about. Much doesn’t get said due to political correctness and fear of being branded either a racist or worse, a right winger. These sanitised reports then inform policy. Flawed, useless, expensive policy. Paid for by debt.

I take on board your suggestion of further exploration of the UK; I could use the experience and the education. It would greatly enrich my kids’ experience of the country that is now their home. It’s something I have thought of for a long time and something I will definitely do.

When I can pay for it. 

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A Twist In The Paradigm

December 17, 2010: Christmas cheer, holidays, the shops heaving with goodies, strains of "Do they know it's Christmas?" in the distance. Like every year, the air was festive. Economic downturn or no economic downturn, Christian or non-Christian, it was Christmas, and we were going to have a good time. Africa, was the last thing on anyone's mind. Even though the song mentioned it. Three times an hour, every hour, on every station and music channel.

On that day, Mohamed Bouazizi, a twenty-six year-old vegetable seller, the sole provider for his family, set himself alight in protest against the heavy-handed treatment and humiliation at the hands of municipal officials in Sidi Bouzid, a Tunisian town, around 190 miles from Tunis. This desperate man's desperate attempt to make a statement about the system reeking with corruption and a government with no regard for it's people became the Arab world's Mangal Pandey moment. Bouazizi succumbed to his burns a couple of weeks later and Tunisia erupted. Protesters filled the streets. Hundreds died. Within days the president was ousted. And then it began in Egypt, then Bahrain, Yemen, Morrocco and now, in perhaps the most dramatic way so far, Libya. Many fear this is only the beginning; and they could be right

Like the events of the late 80s that led to the end of the cold war and the falling of the Iron Curtain, there will be far-reaching effects. The world as we knew it in December 2010 no longer exists. 

Much of the post-WW2 Arab world had become the ulitmate dystopian nightmare. Despots, flush with petro-dollars, kept the citizenry in check with brutal force and a brand of religious zealotry that debased and twisted a great religion into a control mechanism. For five decades the subjects remained subjugated. No one had counted on any kind of awakening. No one had counted on the power of the internet, on the realisation among the youth - who grew up far removed from the post-colonial influence their forefathers - that the extreme poverty, harsh oppression, rampant unemployment and widespread corruption were not normal. Flawed as they might be, images from the west, music, cinema, literature and ideas of freedom and liberty and democracy began to trickle in. Just as the spread of English in the Indian subcontinent acted like a unifying force, allowing the exchange of ideas with people from far flung corners of the country and helped galvanise its independence movement, the ease of communication with the internet played a role here. As did the awareness of their own image in the world. Apathy was replaced by anger and that anger was set alight by one burning man.

We're being beamed images of the stories as they are developing. Stories of joy and stories of absolute horror. We're watching one dictator fall after another. We're watching a people, a proud people take their destiny in their own hands. And we're watching western governments trip over each other looking like bumbling idiots. Each day is a developing story and there are now more questions than answers:
How much further will this spread? The youth in other countries around the world - Saudi Arabia, Iran, Burma, Uganda, Zimbabwe, North Korea, China, and even Pakistan are watching. You can feel the buzz and excitement in online forums and social networking sites. Click here for an interactive map showing the countries affected. They destroyed images of Gaddafi's Green Book in Libya. There are people itching to rip up a Little Red Book somewhere. Yesterday I received an invite to a Causes Page in India demanding the naming and shaming of corrupt bureaucrats and officials. It already has 39,000 followers. The Big State is looking shaky the world over.

What will happen next? Will true democracy take root? Do the people have the strength to see themselves through the difficult journey that is to come while each nation finds itself facing new realities? A similar revolution was once described as 'the best of times and the worst of times'. Which will it be here? Will we see human dignity returned to every man, woman and child? Will the Arab world emerge from the shackles that held it back for decades? 

What about the West? Where do we fit in? Do we fit in at all? We've always championed democracy, well guess what? It looks like we're going to get our wish. The developments render all prior calculations and assumptions useless. The old order has changed and is fast yeilding place to the new one and for once, we're not going to be calling the shots. Everything we stand for, every institution we believe in, every value we hold dear will be tested. I hope our leaders and politicians do the right thing. And I wish I knew what that was.

What of the vaccum in the power base? Will we see see the decline in the twisted religious fervour so favoured by those who sought to maintain a grip on their people? Or will we see the regions spiralling into the nightmare that my beloved Afghanistan is being skewered in for the last 33 years? I remember that revolution well, jubilant crowds shouting "Azaadi! Azaadi!" (Freedom! Freedom!) in the streets of Kabul waving little flags. Just like they are doing in Egypt today. I was 10 then. Yep, my revulsion of communists (Big State, control, control, control) runs deep. There was no religious sloganeering at the time of the Saur Revolution. All that changed a couple of decades later.

And what about security? There can be no talk of security without addressing a significant threat: stockpiles of tens of thousands of weapons, and the possibility of their proliferation into the hands of those who seek to harm us. The irony of course is that we made and peddled most of the ordnance.

What about petrol? Well, to be honest, I don't care. Free markets adjust and correct themselves. They always do. Besides, Crossrail is coming. I am sorted.

The only thing that matters now is peace and stability. There's a whole new generation of people within sights of its first taste of freedom. Let's hope it happens with the least amount of bloodshed. I choose to be optimistic. We could be looking at the beginnings of peace in the Middle East.

While barbarism continues to kill in the Middle East, nature unleashed her fury on Middle Earth.
New Zealand is experiencing what is being described as it's darkest hour. A-Six-Point-Fiver has left a nation devasted, dozens dead, hundreds injured - a stark reminder of our insignificance in the grand scheme of things. I remember Rob from my Ahlman Academy days. He was from Christchurch. I wonder if he lived there. He would be 40 now, probably with a family - kids as old as mine. It's been 30 years. I hope you're okay Rob.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

What's A Labour MP To Do?

You would think they'd learned something by now...

Q: As a Labour MP, what must I be doing?
1. KEEPING A CLOSE EYE on the developing situation in the Middle East. This may be momentous. Democracy could finally be coming to the area. This could be good for the world and us. Or it could go horribly wrong. The world is changing fast, keep bloody up! Galloway will probably want to come back. Come up with a rehabilitation plan for the poor chap.
2. INCREASING AWARENESS of the importance of the National Census (March 2011) amongst their constituents. The census is the single most important source of data the government relies on to plan spending, research, etc. Okay, we never did like your ID Card idea, that doesn't mean you sulk. I thought you guys loved data! Think of all the discs you could lose
3. REASSURING BUSINESSES - the drivers of economic growth, that they will be supported and then actually supporting them. Show up at their openings, negotiate rates relief with local authorities on their behalf. Encourage them. Walk your High Streets. Buy stuff.
4. ADVISING LOCAL AUTHORITIES in their constituencies on how best to cut costs and manage within current constraints. The road ahead will not be easy. Get off the bench and help. Use your expertise. What a minute, expertise? No, no, no! You'd better just sit this one out and let the boys in blue handle it. Smile a little, that would help muchly.
5. COOPERATING. Or learning what that means. "It was only days ago that we voted Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. Now we must put our differences aside and work together." Someone must have said that. Someone always does. Mean it. You landed the nation in it, the least you can do is help those that are working to sort it. Or get out of the way. And while you're at it, tell Crow to cool it. He's not Hoffa.

Q: What must I not do then?
1. ARGUE over whether a lawfully elected government has any mandate. Yes they do. The Queen invited him over to Buckingham Palace, remember? Now shush! 
2. HORSE-TRADE or otherwise waste time over AV-No2AV. Yep, A £250 Million spend is all we need right now. Do we even have time for this? Sort your mates out, we'll take care of the yellow corner. In case you hadn't noticed, no one gives a flying flipper.
3. ATTACK & VILIFY companies that operate within the tax laws. These were laws you made. And you can change them. You're MPs, remember? There's due process. Follow it. That's what we pay you for. A mob does not make rules. Put your union thugs away please.
4. WHIP PEOPLE into a frenzy over non-issues. We're not selling the forests like you did. We floated the idea, people said no so we shelved it. You didn't even bother to ask. High horse. Get off.
5. DENY any of the last 13 years. Stop it. You look stupid when you do that. We have records. We know. Everyone does.
6. APPEAR ON TELEVISION. Please don't. Unless it's on HIGNFY. So we can take the Michael. And give up on QT now. Enough. The BBC isn't your mouthpiece. Well not for long anyway. Chris? Sort it.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Big Society
The Big Society. *eyes roll*. Many call it vague, many call it a smokescreen for cuts and a PR stunt, and many call it a borrowed, socialist idea. Many just hate the mere suggestion of it simply because it came out of Tory HQ. And no one seems to understand it, let alone explain it. Including those who stand behind it.

As with most ideas, especially unquantifiable, abstract ones, this is fairly easy to attack. And boy do they do that. But why? What exactly is this idea that provokes so much hatred and so many colourful words by allegedly educated and intelligent readers of the Left wing press?

The Big Society idea, as I understand it, is more than just about decentralisation, the voluntary sector, spending cuts, shedding the flab from government, axing QUANGOs, cutting red tape and bureaucracy and volunteering. To view it as just 'getting everyone to work for free' is too simplistic, makes for good anti-Tory sloganeering and is completely incorrect.

The argument that the voluntary sector will collapse due to the cuts is complete nonsense. Three quarters of the voluntary sector manage very well without funds from the government, so they won't be affected. As for the 25% that will, shouldn't they be taking a long, hard look at why they're not sustainable without state handouts? And yes, I insist on calling them handouts. Don't they know that the state borrows funds to give to them? I am assuming that the reader knows that the government borrows more than it earns. A third more than it earns. Oh, and the bit it does earn comes from the hated and vilified businessmen, bankers, kebab shop owners, waiters, taxi-drivers, cleaners, shopkeepers, etc.

Then there's the argument that more and more people will be expected to work for free. Actually, no. There's nothing new about that. Volunteers are always in short supply - with or without the cuts. With or without the Tories. With or without unbridled and reckless government spending. With or without the vote-securing-free-baubles-giveaway culture so favoured by Labour.

The best one is that we'd have to run our own post offices, clean our own streets, run our own schools, man our own libraries and police our own streets. Nothing could be further from the truth. One, you don't have to if you don't want to and two the government isn't pulling out of any of these services. Granted, there will be cuts and reductions, but many of us have switched to supermarket's own brand toilet paper and coffee. There will be a shrinkage in many things, until we can buy them with money we actually have.

People love to square up the Big Society against Margaret Thatcher's 'There is no such thing as society' quote, adding to the confusion. Well, for a minute, let's see what Lady Thatcher actually said:

"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it.  'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and them, also, to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

Changes the entire context of how the quote is used, doesn't it? I'll bet most people screaming down from the rooftops or commenting under articles in the Guardian didn't know this. Or deliberately chose to remember the one line that suited them. Selective memory or plain ignorance. Just like selective phrases in a religious book justify blowing up a crowded commuter train.

While the Daily Mail-esque hysteria about spending cuts and disbanding officialdom rages on, life has to go on. People need to work, eat, raise their children, take out the trash and pay their TV licence fees. So what of the Big Society then? Well, I for one get it. In my own way of course. I think the Big Society starts with the building block of society - the individual. Me. You. Each one of us.

Lady Thatcher's comment above says it all for me. As a nation, we've grown accustomed to a perverse sense of entitlement which overwhelms our sense of duty and our obligations. Our obligations to our parents, to our families, to our neighbours and our communities. For me the Big Society is about personal responsibility and a sense of personal duty. How am I raising my children? Do I know where they are at any given time? Do I help them with their homework? Do I even know they have homework? Do I sit with them through the night helping them study for their exams? Do I ask them about their day? Do I tell them about mine? Am I instilling good moral values in them? Do I teach them to be able to fend for themselves? Do I teach them that they're not entitled to things they do not earn through their own merits? Do I know who my neighbours are? Do I even care? Do I know more people on the street I live in than people I know back at the office? Do I speak to my parents often? Do my parents know they can count on me? Does my neighbour know they can count on me? Do I offer my seat in a bus or train to someone else? Do I help someone cross the road? Do I look at a given situation and ask myself, 'I wonder if I can help?' Do I even give a monkey's about anyone else except myself? Do I avoid the race to keep up with the Jones's by maxing out my credit cards?

I would answer yes to all those questions. That's MY Big Society. And it costs me nothing. I don't have to give up my job either. Nor do I have to 'go and work for free'. It starts with me. This is how it will be built. From the ground up. One brick at a time.

The Big Society idea should strike at the heart of the general apathy that has resulted from decades of cheap entertainment, failing schools, less than mediocre education, levelling of society - downwards, low or no aspirations and no expectations from our youth. We've cocooned ourselves into our little comfort zones, drip-fed with daily doses of 39p-a-litre cider and Goody-Jordan-Katona. That's just about as far as aspiration extends in today's Britain.

The use of profanity and name-calling in an argument is admission of a lack of belief in your convictions. Which is why the debates I get into with people whose ideology is diametrically opposed to mine tend to be like an argument about Darwin and evolution at Sunday school. A few facepalm moments soon descend into "...but the Tories are nasty..." There have been moments where I have cringed at the apparent lack of common sense among some of the most educated and well-read people I have ever known and I wonder. An unlessoned, unschooled immigrant kid gets it. Why don't you?

Most of the so-called intelligentsia accuse the government (Read: Tories) of being out of touch with normal, everyday folk. So are they. Many of them don't even recognise my description of the fragmented uncaring society we have become. In their hypothetical world, almost exclusively formulated from 'evidence' resulting from anecdotes and armchair economics and sociology, there is no room for tangible, practical ways to deal with a problem. But that is to be expected in a nation where many teachers head straight from university to teaching school to classrooms with no practical life experience whatsoever, where community leaders and politicians play by sound bites rather than the hard, practical, real-world decisions they should be taking in favour of populist rhetoric backed by borrowed money. We're headed nowhere. And fast. The Big Society needs to wrest control from this headless, brainless, nameless regime of rule-books and 'frameworks' and theoretical systems that warp the natural order of human behaviour, relationships and progress turning them into neutralised, complying sheep. Throughout history in moments of crisis, people have demonstrated the best of human nature. And the worst. The question is, what are we going to this time? Should we attack, vilify and maul what seems to be the only sustainable and practical way forward? Or should we pull together, do some work to earn our keep?

I wait for the barrage that will follow this post. But please, if you must, let this be about what YOU think YOUR contribution to the Big Society is going to be. Not the bankers. That’s a different argument altogether. YOU.  

I'll talk to anyone who doesn't understand what I have said. I'll explain and I'll explain again. Some will get it. Some won't. Some will be too proud to admit they get it. Some will deny that they ever got it. Some will try to change the argument into something else. I'll lose some people off my friends' list on Facebook, some people will stop following me on Twitter. No matter. Those would be the weakest links. 

Well, goodbye!