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"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Re: Big Society

Dear Mr Cameron,

I have been thinking a lot about your big society idea. It keeps me awake at night, whilst I consider how I am going to get me and the several thousand residents of Tyne and Wear for whom I have some (small, unelected and fairly anonymous) responsibility, through the next four or five years of your government (also unelected, but slightly less anonymous).

So, I had an idea.

Why don't you give me the same amount of money as you get paid. And we'll have a competition. We'll take the population of Tyne and Wear and we'll see who can do the most for the most number of people. You can have your emergency budget, and I'll have the £140K or so that you get paid. I'm sure if you do a whip round you can afford it.

We can each have a team. You can have that Osborne guy and Mr Clegg and I'll have Uncle Petie, Maisie and Rob. I'll let you have Danny Alexander too, as it's only fair we're even on the ginger stakes.

If you win, then I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and give you and your progressive politics a go. If we win, then no problem. It is big society after all.

We'll get someone fairly independent to judge it... someone who doesn't like either of us. A former Labour immigration minister might be a good one on that score. But I'm sure there would be a few good candidates.

What do you reckon?


Blogger Oscar said...

P.S. I now realise having had a little sleep, that I need to be a little clearer. You should probably give me the salaries of all your team - and then I'll pay my team the average wage that someone in Tyne and Wear gets and the rest of the money we'll put in the pot for doing what we're going to do.

Also, I reserve the right to change my team, seeing as I haven't asked them first.

But subject to some changes, I reckon it's still a good idea.

01 July, 2010 09:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Oscar,

I must admit that I lie awake at night wondering about how society might turn out if we were to hand it over to you. Unfortunately, like most of the political class that you have little apparent respect for, (although at least they are prepared to stand up in front of a majority of the population and put forward their beliefs and ideals), you fail to define in specific terms how the outcome of your little competition would be judged.

'Doing the most for the most number of people' (poor marks for grammar there: what exactly is 'the most number'?) is sufficiently vague such that the determination of who has 'won' becomes a rather futile execise. Perhaps you would elucidate further?

07 July, 2010 23:11  
Blogger Oscar said...

You are absolutely right. I realise that my idea is wishy washy and requires huge amounts of development. I also do not expect it to go anywhere, and was really just being a little bit daft one night, because I do lose sleep over what will happen in the next few years and I do get angry and like to have a little rant. I don't have time to even think, let alone record here, what I would do instead, because I am too busy with my various endeavours trying to fire fight, because I see that what is being done is not working. And that frustrates me too.

Please rest assured, I have no desire to have society handed over to me... as I recognise fully I would be absolutely shite at dealing with it if it was.

08 July, 2010 12:22  
Anonymous Maisie said...

I am awarding Anonymous poor marks for grammar also, for the doubling up of commas and brackets. I will also point out that failing to recognise Oscar's paraphrasing of the central tenet of utilitarianism is a rather basic error.

That said, I too lie awake at night concerned about how society might turn out if controlled by Oscar - mainly because of the likely shock we'd all be in from suddenly being run with such ruthless efficiency. For eulcidation on what this might be like, try referring to a variety of Oscar's previous posts, which should demonstrate that it's not just "the political class" who put forward their beliefs and ideals.

08 July, 2010 22:43  
Blogger Rob said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

09 July, 2010 14:17  
Blogger Rob said...

Rob said...
I'm surprised at Oscar's response to "anonymous". Like Maisie I know Oscar to be very efficient, determined and not to yield to anonymous comments.

This said, Oscar you did promise you'd join the "political class" (poor phrasing from anonymous, there's no such thing as a political class, not in the way you write about it anyway) if the tories were the next party power.

09 July, 2010 14:28  
Blogger Oscar said...

Well, I think the criticism that I didn't really flesh the bones of my idea was quite justified. My point was that it was really just meant as a bit of a joke really.

As for my entry into politics... I'm fairly sure that I said I would do it if the Tories were elected, which they are not. That is the excuse I'm hiding behind anyway.

That, and my original comment, that really, I wouldn't be much good at it right now.

09 July, 2010 15:01  
Blogger Uncle Petie said...

That's kind of a good point about the terminology from Rob. I've heard all sorts of people defending politicians - pointing out that they do a difficult and necessary job, that they could make much more money elsewhere, etc. etc. For what it's worth I've got quite a lot of sympathy with that line of thought.

But no-one ever tries to defend "the political class" - the whole point of the phrase is to suggest that politicians are a separate class with interests that diverge from the rest of society.

09 July, 2010 16:47  

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