Thursday, 21 October 2010

Opinion Piece II - Writing for Assessment

In this scenario, we wrote a six-hundred word opinion piece on the topic of David Cameron's 'Big Society' concept, which was then assessed by another student.

There isn't any group who won't benefit from the implementation of Cameron's 'Big Society' proposal, the dramatic 'devolution of power from the elites in Whitehall'. By dumping responsibility for local government spending in the laps of the citizenry, irate residents will now be at the throats of their Councillors, rather than their MPs, who can now fiddle their expenses and vote through policy without distraction.
By permitting the establishment of independent state schools at the same time he has cut the education budget, he has provided more pupil spaces and the freedom of teaching ethics at the same time he has taken away the funding from the education sector needed to expand regulatory bodies to monitor these new institutions.
As local residents are being buried in an influx of expensive bureaucracy and irrelevant policies, they will be less inclined to pay attention to the deep divisions within the Coalition central government, allowing Cameron to rein in those wayward Liberals not yet bribed with a sniff of power. As the public sector reels from nearly half a million job cuts, the Prime Minister can proudly point to his fabled 'third sector' of volunteers now in work – for little or no pay, with minimal training and woeful oversight by a skeleton staff of civil servants.
As the scheme is slowly and painfully applied, Cameron has already deployed his excuses and can toss any complaints onto the fire of 'it would be naive to think society would miraculously spring up if government rolled back' . As we tighten the belt ever more on our economy, the Prime Minister has assured us funding will come from a 'Big Society Bank' comprised of funding received from dormant bank accounts across the UK. I'm glad I'm playing my part then; when I tried to recover an account held in my name by an elderly relative, I was informed it had simply been too long since the money was accessed to be returned.

Even so, the Financial Times informs us this initiative will net a mere £60 million for the project, even as Cameron can proudly say no money is coming from the strapped Treasury. Meanwhile, he can quietly get on with spending £600 million to chase £1.5 billion in benefit fraud, whilst Vodafone walk away from Revenues and Customs with £6 billion in waived taxation.
It would be nice to believe in the noble sentiments behind a dramatic reform of government and the involvement of the local resident in the running of their community, beyond picking which coddled non-entity of an MP comes from the party you dislike the least. Cameron proposed it as a policy back during his leadership bid in 2005, when the economic situation was a lot less dire, so presumably it was indeed his passion and drive to reform England. Now, it seems his passion and drive is to maintain his grip on power by burying the clamouring masses with more committees and non-governmental bodies than it knows what to do with, a solid Tory concept.

There are amusing echoes of Yes, Prime Minister in this strategy – Sir Humprey himself would be applauding as David Cameron simultaneously sells a mirage of 'local accountability' to the voters, whilst tightening Whitehall's grip by divesting it of its responsibilities at a regional level. So, there isn't a single group that won't benefit – there's just one, single, Prime Minister.

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