I have been pondering the concept of the Big Society especially living as I do in Barnet, that most Conservative of boroughs.
Our Council leader (maybe he's an ex- now?), Brian Coleman, is thoroughly spiteful. He appears on local TV with a dull, bored-with-it-all expression and a mean mouth. I think someone did something really horrid to him when he was a boy, because his policies reek of revenge and dislike.
The Arts budget in Barnet has all but disappeared, and out parking charges have more than doubled (£40 to £100 in one fell swoop) so those of us who don't have driveways and garages are now subsidising the wealthy who have.
It is in this part of Greater London that one would expect the Big Idea (sorry, Big Society) to flourish.
Alas, I beg to challenge!
About ten years ago Offsprog One attended a Girl Guide troupe run by a very kindly, but elderly and infirm couple, who did their level best to provide a very exciting experience for the girls: outdoor barbecues, visits from a bat shelter person, plus bats; bring-your-own-pet day (a miniature horse turned up), all sorts of things.
From the mums who dropped off the girls, they tried to recruit helpers.
Did they manage?
I rather grimly watched the well-turned-out mummies with their Daily Mails tucked under their arms and their critical sneers disappearing in their big four-be-fours, leaving me and sometimes a very pleasant German mum to do the honours, every week. I had a full time job and another daughter, but I became a chaperone (when they went to camp in Dorset with a male minibus driver), music tester, Scottish dessert maker, washer upper, whatever was required, every week. I took my other daughter with me, as there was no-one to look after her at home.
I would not vote Conservative in a million years and for a million pounds and I deeply resent their attempt to co-opt voluntary work as part of their policy.
When I was married I felt it was my right and pleasure to help people out. Now I am not, and things are more pressing, I still want to retain this right as an independent person.
the Arts should be funded, and so should any organisation that helps vulnerable people, from babies, though children, teenagers, all the way through to elders.
Who should pay?
Those guys in the City, please!