PMQs verdict: David Cameron kills off the Big Society

19th December, 2012 1:40 pm

Well that wasn’t quite the pre-Christmas knockabout PMQs we were all expecting. In fact, it was largely on the sober side, perhaps as a by-product of Ed Miliband leading off with questions on Afghanistan.

The mood was hardly lightened or the pace quickened by his second topic – food banks. It’s a scandal that one of the richest nations on earth in 2012 cannot adequately feed its people. The growth of food banks under this government should be a source of constant shame for the Prime Minister, but the fact that they exist at all should shame our society, and politicians from all parties.

But what was noteworthy in an otherwise sedate PMQs was just how badly Cameron handled the food banks issue. He could have swatted it away, and that would have been callous, but at least intellectually coherent. He could have expressed his sorrow, and that would have been contrite but meaningless. But instead he chose to link the Big Society to the provision of food banks.

That’s what the Big Society is these days, feeding starving children when the rest of society has failed. Or as Ed Miliband put it:

“I never thought that the big society was about feeding hungry children in Britain”

If the Big Society was hobbled before, it is surely stone cold dead now. If it were seen as a cover for cuts before, it’s seen as the back up plan when the safety net is cut now. The Big Society is dead, and David Cameron has killed it. The journey from Steve Hilton to Lynton Crosby is complete.

And so brazen is the PM nowadays, that he didn’t even bother to deny that he’d been socialising with Rebekah Brooks recently. The lines at the food banks may be getting longer, but friends in Chipping Norton are staying as close as ever.

Merry Christmas Britain. It’s cold outside.

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  • Good article – for once Mark

  • Monkey_Bach

    Cameron is a classic bully at once boorish, disdainful, mawkish, and sentimental. He applauds men and women who, out of the goodness of their hearts, donate time or money or food to such good causes, while simultaneously pouring vitriol on the heads of legions of poverty struck, suffering individuals and families that these good causes serve.

    What a despicable heartless charlatan.

    Eeek.

  • Gabrielle

    That was a real ‘WTF’ moment when Cameron came out with his pious pronouncement about the so-called Big Society running food banks. Nothing highlights the failure of this government’s policies than food banks. These are springing up everywhere, even in supposedly affluent areas, and it’s both employed and unemployed people and their children who are having to rely on them.

    Ed really nailed it when he responded with “I never thought that the big society was about feeding hungry children in Britain.”

    Well said, Ed.

    It’s also worth noting that this time last year, all the political pundits were saying Ed was hopeless and probably washed up, after Cameron made a cheap and nasty jibe about he and Clegg not being brothers (ie a dig at Ed’s supposed rivalry with his brother). This snide jibe was hyped up by Newsnight, Nick Robinson and many other hacks as the most devastating witticism in the history of PMQs and Ed was duly written off. Bit premature wasn’t it?

  • markfergusonuk

    Thanks for your faint praise

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