Matt's Crow Country: It's not big, and it's not clever

PUBLISHED: 09:20 20 July 2010 | UPDATED: 09:55 20 July 2010

Melbourn library staff Mike Stapleton, ..., cllr Susan van de Ven

Melbourn library staff Mike Stapleton, ..., cllr Susan van de Ven

Daniel Wilson

Cameron's big idea is nothing new

Our elected representatives are always full of wonderful, ground-breaking, schemes to improve the country, most of which turn out to be, er, not so ground-breaking or wonderful.

Prime Minister David Cameron will be hoping this isn’t the case when his Big Society initiative swings into action.

The scheme, announced this week, will encourage community groups to run facilities such as post offices, libraries, and transport services, as well as shaping projects in areas, including new housing.

Mr Cameron said at the launch on Monday: “There are the things you do because it’s your passion, things that fire you up in the morning, that drive you, that you truly believe will make a real difference to the country you love, and my great passion is building the big society.”

If you can work out what any of that actually means, let me know, because it sounds like a load of waffle to me.

It also seems a bit like that other politicians’ trick – repackaging an exisiting idea and claiming it as your own.

Because don’t volunteers in the community already do things like this? Take the Queens Head in Fowlmere for instance, which now offers post office services as well as pints.

Or if you want volunteer-run libraries, pop over to Melbourn, where the staff are supplemented by a small army of voluntary librarians, who help keep the facility open for villagers, despite a distinct lack of funding.

And there is another problem with the Big Society – how is it going to be funded?

Because the only thing that seems clear in the government’s plan is that they won’t be picking up the bill.

I know money is tight, but as a society should we really have to pay for services previously provided by the public sector?

This strikes me as a weak attempt by the coalition government to cover up yet another round of cost-cutting, and I don’t like it one bit.

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I don’t watch much TV these days, but one programme I did see last week was Living With Brucie.

The show was a documentary about the daily life of one of Britain’s best loved entertainers, Bruce Forsyth.

I have to say that previously Bruce has never been particularly well-loved in my household, but having seen the documentary, you can’t help but admire the man.

Not just because he’s married to a former Miss World who is 30 years his junior, though obviously that isn’t something be sniffed at.

No, the main thing which impressed me was the amazing health regime 82-year old Forsyth goes through every day to keep himself in shape.

His daily routine of exercises would put people less than half his age – including me – to shame.

I think most of us would be quite happy to be in such rude health when we hit our ninth decade, and I hope Brucie continues to grace our screens for years to come.

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