I have recently been trawling through some Margaret Thatcher speeches and quotes, and came across this gem from the 1986 Conservative Women's Conference:
“[The Big Society] is one in which people do not leave it to the person next door to do the job.
It is one in which people help each other.
Where parents put their children first.
Friends look out for the neighbours, families for their elderly members.
That is the starting point for care and support—the unsung efforts of millions of individuals, the selfless work of thousands upon thousands of volunteers.
It is their spirit that helps to bind our society together.
Caring isn't measured by what you say:
It's expressed by what you do.”
Now doesn't that perfectly sum up exactly what the Big Society is all about; helping out your neighbours, looking after your friends and family and getting involved in your community. The only difference is Thatcher used the term "responsible society", which I think comes across a lot better than the "Big Society".
I wonder if Cameron's "Big Society" is in fact Thatcher's "Responsible Society"?
Oh, and very many happy returns to Margaret Thatcher on her 85th birthday. She'll be celebrating it this afternoon at Downing Street. The natural order of things has returned :)