In the run-up to the UK general election, David Cameron’s big idea was the “Big Society” – the idea that he would encourage community groups to initiate projects themselves, rather than waiting for the state to do everything for them. However, for “big society” to develop projects, they must be allowed to promote ideas. It has now become clear that he is only prepared to allow the ideas, and hence “big society” projects, that he approves of.
A recent dramatic news story here concerned a recently released prisoner who immediately shot an ex-girlfriend and killed her new boyfriend. This was then followed by a protracted manhunt, tracked daily on national TV news, culminating in a distasteful scene where, under heavy police guard, he ended by shooting himself, all in front of the TV cameras. This was then followed by the stupidity of a Facebook page mourning his death, and treating him, a clear murderer, as an innocent victim. Pretty stupid, but any sane person would know that Facebook can produce some idiocies. The best thing is simply to ignore them. Not Mr Cameron -he used his authority as PM to pressure Facebook into shutting down the page.
A more serious example concerns the upcoming papal visit.
The official Downing Street website has a place where citizens can place petitions – all very much in the spirit of open democracy and the big society. In this spirit, gay activist Peter Tatchell has placed a petition against the visit. Downing Street has responded with an argument against, which is fair enough. What is outrageous though, is that they have not simply rejected the sentiments of the petition – they have closed it.
Peter Tatchell of the gay-rights group OutRage! set up the petition on the Downing Street website, and says it was originally set to expire in September. However, Cameron has shut it down more than three months before it was due to expire.
“This looks like an attempt to prevent the petition from embarrassing the government by gaining a large number of signatures in the run-up to Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK in September,” said Tatchell today.
“The Prime Minister’s office originally agreed that the petition would remain open until the Pope arrived in the UK. But his officials declared it closed on 6 June and only informed me of this decision yesterday.
-Read more at (Digital Journal):
- David Cameron faces uphill battle to build ‘big society’, New Yorker claims | Paul Owen (guardian.co.uk)
- Thousands protest against the pope in London (topinews.com)
- PM offers Pope a ‘very warm welcome’ (independent.co.uk)
- A success for the Pope is a success for David Cameron (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)