It is perhaps the case that David Cameron’s idea about the Big Society is just a “rebranding trick – a way of making the biggest cuts to public spending since the 1920s sound upbeat“.
However, I think it is also perfectly possible that Cameron really thinks our society would be much better if many more things were done by volunteers, and that he would have presented his idea even if he had come into power during the boom.
However, things would have been very different if he had: He would have had money to transfer to voluntary organisations in order for them to take over tasks; he would have been able to lower taxes in order to give people more money to give to charities; and people would have been fairly relaxed about losing their jobs if unemployment were low.
As things stand, the effects of his Big Society are disastrous: It means most tasks not done by the state will simply not get done, given that falling salaries and rising taxes mean that people have even less money to give to charities or to spend on services that they previously got for free.
So of course people are going to be cynical and think it’s all just a way to slash the state. If Cameron had wanted to avoid this accusation, he should have delayed introducing his Big Society until the next boom.