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The Big Society Idea: the new centre-ground of British politics

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With the debate titled “The future of community: the ‘Big Society’ or the ‘Good Society’” recently held by Progress and ResPublica, the non-partisan political thinktank established in 2009, there seems to be no more appropriate time to comment on Philip Blond’s flagship idea. There has been a wave of criticism of late regarding what essentially equates to the perceived mismatch between the Big Society’s normative ‘ideals’ and the allegedly negative impact of the financial cuts upon the practical realisation of such ideals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, such criticism has been most apparent in the voluntary sector itself, as highlighted both by Dame Elisabeth Hoodless’s resignation from the Community Service Volunteers, Britain’s largest volunteering charity, and February 10th’s Question Time’s audience, albeit through both formal questioning and unconventional shouting. Still, regardless of the practical ‘necessities’ of such cuts as viewed by key governmental actors on the back of the current financial context, as an idea the Big Society is not necessarily monopolised by either Right or Left; indeed – it appears to be a reflection of the new Centre-ground of British contemporary political thought.