Tuesday, 21 September 2010

How should the left respond to the big society?

The OurKingdom blog is hosting a strand of debate interrogating the idea of the 'Big Society', as Anthony Barnett sets out.

As part of this, Niki Seth Smith is asking people and groups on the left about their responses to the big society and its potential to reduce inequality. You can read my responses at OurKingdom.

Offered the proposition of choosing less inequality if it meant sacrificing the agenda of reducing the role of the state, I think the majority of the Conservatives would find that very difficult, as it implies an acceptance of a social democratic worldview. If Cameron is right, they don't need to answer this question. But there is no historic or comparative evidence for the right's gut intuition that big states create poverty - clearly, that would predict very high poverty in social democratic Sweden and very low poverty in the USA, yet the opposite is true in the real world.

Neal Lawson of Compass and Will Straw of Left Foot Forward will be next to respond from the left in the OurKingdom big society debate.

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