Senior Tories agree there is "no such thing as a big society"

"It's bollocks -- boiled vegetables that have been cooked for too long"

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Interesting to note a headline in the Guardian -- There's no such thing as 'big society', senior Tories tell Cameron -- mirroring that above the column my colleague Mehdi Hasan and I wrote for the current issue of the magazine. Hailed by Tories and their media supporters as Cameron's "big idea" it wasn't mentioned by the Tory leader in last week's TV debate and appears to have fizzled out. Now, Tories themselves are actively dismissing it.

From the Guardian story, which may or may not have the possible fingerprints of Andy Coulson:

Criticism is focusing on Steve Hilton, the director of strategy, and Oliver Letwin, the shadow cabinet policy co-ordinator, who were the main brains behind last week's Tory manifesto. This was entitled Invitation to Join the Government of Britain and was designed to illustrate the "big society" idea of handing power to people to set up schools and sack police chiefs.

But shadow ministers say the Letwin and Hilton approach is difficult to sell on the doorstep. "Oliver Letwin had this great 'big society' idea, though it might have been an idea to share it with the rest of us," one normally loyal shadow minister said. "People don't really follow Oliver's philosophical discourse."

Another shadow minister echoed this criticism. "The 'big society' needs to be turned into more practical, voter-friendly language. We need to turn Oliver Letwin's Hegelian dialectic into voter friendly stuff."

A third Tory source was even blunter. "The 'big society' is bollocks. It is boiled vegetables that have been cooked for three minutes too long. It tastes of nothing. What is it?"

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
Free trial CSS