Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thatcher's Big Society (And Big Birthday)

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 :)


Stephen Wigmore said...

Happy Birthday to Mrs Thatcher. I hope she's well enough to enjoy it.

As you say Iain, the natural order comes round again.

RonLiddle said...

You missed off the bit where she said

"And to pay for this community building, how about we introduce a "Community Charge", that's the spirit"

Simon Lewis said...

Basically everything she said in that speech never happened under her government. Never.

Paddy Briggs said...

Sad that all politicians feel the need to spout such motherhood platitudes. Thatcher no better or worse than all the rest on this. Awful rubbish.

Paddy Briggs said...

The "what should be" never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no "what should be," there is only what is.

Lenny Bruce
Born 13th October 1925

Weygand said...

What the Cameroonians fail to grasp is that 'The Big Society', as your quotation explains, is a spirit or ethos. It is not a policy.

To provide services you need policies which contain provision for how they should be delivered.

Relying on volunteers to step forward and replace rather than enhance provision of services is a sure way to fail, because
a) In some places (usually where they are most needed) people will be unwilling or unable to come forward
b)Some of the people who step up will be stupid, incompetent or barmy
c) There will be no democratic control over what and how such services are delivered - you will get what people want to give you not what you need etc etc

By all means encourage Big or Responsible societies but we need policies to run the country - as Mrs Thatcher understood.

Jimmy said...

"I wonder if Cameron's "Big Society" is in fact Thatcher's "Responsible Society"?"

Let's face it there are only so many ways you can say "Up yours paupers."

HampsteadOwl said...

So Lady Thatcher is back in Downing Street and the "natural order of things has returned".

Come off it. Under both of Cameron's Labour predecessors, the old bat was hardly ever out of the place, wheeled up the road for a photo whenever one of them wanted to make a point about looking steely and bold. In fact, given her evident mental deterioration, they just looked like rather nasty care home workers polishing their own importance on the hem of an old lady's skirt.

I trust that this evening will provide for happier fare.

Manfarang said...

The natural order of things has returned-coalition government!

Michel S. said...

Thanks, Iain, for finding this very apt quote. I'm reminded of how much the 1987 "no such thing as society" quote gets bandied about on the left, conveniently leaving out the part where individuals are challenged to help their neighbours:

It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour

"There is no such thing as society", Women's Own magazine interview

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