Today, Ed Miliband gave his acceptance speech to the Labour party conference, and having watched it, I caught myself accidentally feeling cautiously optimistic. Have no fear, that feeling was quickly despatched and I remain my normal cynical self.
One particular term he used which grated horribly for me was “the good society”. The Good Society, really? Was the Tories’ equivalent not annoying enough already?
The thing about “the Big Society” and “the Good Society” is that they’re soundbites and they don’t mean anything, and that for some reason annoys me more than it ought to.
We’re just about coming to understand that Cameron’s “Big Society” is about parents building schools and getting charities to pick up the bill for things the government can’t afford to fix. It seems to be a partial removal of the state’s abstraction layer: instead of wanting schools, paying taxes and letting someone qualified turn one into the other, you’re now encouraged to take on that overhead yourselves so that they can sack half the public sector workers.
Wait, this wasn’t supposed to be a rant about that Society.
No, the “Good Society” is even more nebulous, and I hope it doesn’t become a buzzword like its alter ego. What is it supposed to entail? Us being vaguely nice to each other and hoping it all works out?
For all the catchy phrases that politicians throw around, the majority of the public are committed members of the “Meh Society”. We want to pay taxes at a reasonable level, and get good public services as a result. And in the main we’re nice people, but we’re also pretty cynical about politics, and being declared part of “the Good Society” or “the Big Society” just doesn’t entrhrall us as much as those in parliament would like to believe.