How Cameron can be ‘big’ again

first_imgLONDON — In late March 2010 I joined a scrum of Britain’s best (and worst) political journalists as they descended en masse on the Coin Street neighborhood center in Waterloo to hear David Cameron espouse his political philosophy. The theme of the day would be a phrase he first wheeled out months before at the Guardian, when giving the Hugo Young lecture, in honor of a giant of liberal journalism. Casting himself as a compassionate, liberal conservative, Cameron said that his animating purpose in politics, his passion and mission, could be summed up by the phrase “Big Society.”This would put flesh on the bones of an excellent assertion he made when he became Tory party leader back in 2005, having beaten the Eurosceptic libertarian David Davis. “There is such a thing as society,” Cameron said in an implied retort to Margaret Thatcher’s counter-view, “it’s just not the same thing as the state.” By the time we got to Coin Street, barely six weeks before he would be elected PM, Cameron had explicitly declared the Big Society his conservative creed. Eleven would-be Cabinet ministers were there to add ballast to this declaration, including future Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. *  *  * It’s been downhill ever since. That sunny morning  —  buzzing with special advisers, charity chiefs, lobby hacks and the infuriating posh twentysomething women with long hair and double-barrelled surnames that were a feature of Cameron’s early leadership — was a high point for the Big Society as a political initiative. There are several reasons for this; but two main ones above all. The first is that this Tory government, like all its predecessors, has been captured by an economic narrative — in a word, austerity. The likes of Oliver Letwin, the Tories’ philosopher-king who resides in the Cabinet Office, talked profusely a decade ago about how the coming conservative administration would make sociocentric reforms its priority, rather than econocentric ones. The Tory brand, however, is about economic security above all. It’s true that thefinancial crisis was always going to make economics the central concern of the last Parliament. But that crisis predated the Coin Street appearance by a couple of years: Even in 2010, Cameron hoped that social reform would be his legacy.David Cameron | EPAAlas, the sheer power of Osborne within his administration, the fact that Labour weren’t trusted on the economy, and the ease with which the Conservatives could slip into a familiar narrative of fixing the mess they inherited from Labour — not that Labour was actually to blame this time, given the economy was growing by May 2010 — meant that economic recovery became the first priority of Cameron’s leadership. Or, if you like, of Cameron’s time as the face and front man of Osbornomics.*  *  *The second reason is Lynton Crosby, and all that came with him. The Australian strategist is Westminster’s voodoo doll, a much misunderstood and maligned creature. Contrary to reputation, he is softly spoken, highly decent, and — like Rupert Murdoch, by the way — surprisingly liberal on some issues, such as immigration and gay marriage. He is just ruthless in pursuit of victory, and casts himself as a man employed to secure that victory at all costs — even if it means adopting unpleasant political positions and phrases. Crosby’s method is uncomplicated. For three decades he has fought elections on a single idea — security — whether it be economic or national. All else is distraction. Crosby distils politics into a simple choice, between security and insecurity, and demands total obedience to that message. The Big Society, an amorphous, suspiciously intellectual idea is a voguish diversion. It’s true that it was struggling as an idea before he turned up. The flight of top personnel proved something was awry early on. Lord Nat Wei, the former management consultant ennobled to oversee the Big Society, left sooner than anyone expected. 3. The public don’t buy it Perhaps it really is true that many would-be Tory MPs found, back in 2010, that they drew blank faces when they mentioned the Big Society while canvassing. It is certainly the case, as Crosby’s masterful campaign showed, that clarity of message, starkness of choice, and fear of the alternative is what motivates British voters, rather than fuzzy ideals of harmony. Yet the argument that the public don’t buy it is hard to reconcile with the fact that most of them don’t understand it, and that to a large extent the project never got going. Perhaps if they did understand it, and it had been rolled out competently, more of them would buy it.A new nameIt would be as well for advocates of the Big Society to admit its shortcomings. Oliver Wright, the Independent’s political editor, was first to reveal a charity watchdog was investigating the Big Society for misuse of government funds, as well as other questionable behavior. A major audit of the whole initiative was brutal in its clarity about the Coalition’s failure to reach the targets it had set itself. Yet in other, smaller ways, planks of the Big Society have thrived. The best example is the Behavioural Insights Team led by David Halpern, now spun out of the Cabinet Office. His squad of wonks, dubbed the “Nudge Unit” in honor of the bookwritten by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, has made back over 20 times the original investment in it, delivering £300 million in savings by nudging Britons into better decisions while hardly affecting their freedom. With simple but effective techniques, this unit has increased adult literacy, encouraged the unemployed into work, and collected huge amounts in unpaid taxes.The impressive work of the Nudge Unit, chronicled in the just-released book from Halpern, is one very good reason to press ahead with the Big Society. An even better one is that this is where advances in political philosophy, to the extent that they are possible in our time, are headed. In Tom Friedman’s phrase, today’s world is fast: The intersection of markets, the effects of Moore’s Law, and the exigencies of Mother Nature are making us ever more inter-connected. The clash of ideologies that dominated the 20th century won’t dominate the 21st; managing globalization, resource wars and the reversal in democracy’s fortunes, will. To these problems we bring extensive discourses about the efficacy of the state and markets, but a much smaller body of knowledge about the science of society. That knowledge is expanding; and with it, the opportunity for reforms that improve lives and create happier, more prosperous, and hardly less free societies, in which the institutions that generate bonds of affection are nourished. This is what the Big Society aimed at. That it spectacularly missed its target is no reason not to take aim again. If Cameron  —  who said he came into politics to achieve these goals, and whose only professional life beyond politics was in corporate PR  —  wants a new name for an old idea, perhaps he could call it “Social-ism.” As distinct, that is, from socialism. The latter was the great ideological casualty of the 20th century; the former could be Britain’s defining political contribution to the 21st. Steve Hilton, Cameron’s close friend and senior adviser who personified the Big Society and was its main instigator in Whitehall, left for America when his wife got a big job at Google. Rohan Silva, another senior adviser, also left No. 10 to launch himself as an entrepreneur. By the time Osborne hired Crosby to run the election campaign, the Big Society was sacrificed on the altar of expedience. It was said that it didn’t go down well “on the doorstep,” a phrase trotted out by politicians who blame voters for their own failings. The hiring of Crosby was proof, though none was needed, that the Tories would fight the 2015 election on economic rather than social recovery: a strategy completely vindicated by their surprise win. *  *  *My central contention here is that this is a great shame. Almost everything you think you know about the Big Society is wrong. Myths include the notion that it was a cover for austerity; that it was a new idea; that there was no proper intellectual heft to it; that it was unpopular among the public.On the contrary, the Big Society brought together strands of thought and policy which, in an era of globalization and technological change, will play an ever bigger role in smart government through the 21st century — whatever label it eventually appears under. For that reason, I believe it is overdue a resurrection. Before that process can begin, we have to understand what it is, and the myths that envelop it. This is a brief breakdown. For the best pamphlet-length exposition, you need Jesse Norman.What is the Big Society?At base, it encourages the diffusion of power from the state to society by tapping into the hidden wealth of nations, to use the title of David Halpern’s seminal book. What does this mean in practice?1.  Extra state support for charities It’s important to know that a charity reliant entirely on state support is not a charity — it’s a “quango.” Charities (and I say this as Patron of one) have different sources of income: government (both central and local); individual; corporate. But the Big Society was supposed to encourage charities and community groups to expand their energies and efforts, and in so doing help to alleviate some common social ills. Part of this required additional funding, which is why the Big Society Bank was set up, and huge funds were given to the likes of Locality, a group of community organizers.center_img 2. Public service reform This was the animating mission of Blair’s final years in power. In his memoirs he says he clung on in No. 10 to stop Gordon Brown undoing those reforms. Cameron’s early leadership took Blair’s side of the argument. He said he wanted to give the public greater ownership of public services, by making them “more human.” Perhaps the best example of this is the free school agenda, where parents have been encouraged to set up their own schools. 3. Behavioral economicsRemarkable academic strides have been made in the past 20 years on human motivation and decision-making, casting Homo Economicus, the rational being who is fully informed, into history’s dustbin. Behavioral economics and  social psychology have yielded a literature, from Freakonomics to The Tipping Point and Predictably Irrational, which shows us to be socially conditioned and highly emotional beings. In his book, Norman updates Michael Oakeshott’s distinction, in On Human Conduct, between civil and enterprise associations – the former being groups that get together without substantive aim; the latter a grouping that has some ultimate achievement in mind. For Norman, there is a third type of association: the philic – groups bonded by love, reciprocity and affection. Generating as many of these bonds as possible, and using them for social goals, is a central feature of the Big Society.4. Open data If knowledge is power, power is knowledge; and any project to spread power must make information widely available. One of Silva’s signature achievements in government was pioneering open data. The Coalition admirably made huge amounts of government data available to the public for the first time. That is why recent moves to restrict freedom of information are regrettable. Three mythsThat is a brief synopsis of what the Big Society is. Here is a synopsis of what it isn’t. In other words, three myths about the Big Society.1. It’s a cover for austerityOpponents of austerity tended to deride the Big Society primarily because the ideas came from the same place. But there was a problem with this argument: Those enforcing austerity didn’t need any cover. They talked about little else. Osborne even changed his appearance to suit the theme of austerity. His Budgets banged on about little else. The argument that Big Society was a “cover” can only be espoused by stupid people who don’t understand the idea, haven’t been paying attention for the past five years, or both. A lot of the same people seem very alert to the reality of austerity when championing Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy for Labour. 2. The Big Society is a new idea In politics, there is no such thing as a new idea; only fresh labels for old ones. Obviously there is the comparison with LBJ’s Great Society. More to the point, David Willetts, the Tory thinker, was writing pamphlets about civic conservatism in the early 1990s. For him, an over-emphasis on the state, individuals and markets had missed out on the thing in between. We need a politics of institutions, whether little platoons or massive clubs, because it is institutions that bring us together best. David Blunkett’s “Scarman Lecture” (2003), Labour’s “Together We Can” Action Plan (2005) and Hazel Blears’ “Active Citizens” speech (2006) all aimed at the Big Society. If the Prime Minister agrees with my diagnosis for Social-ism, and I have reason to believe he might, I’d suggest Labour’s return to socialism would furnish him with an excellent opportunity.Amol Rajan is editor of  the Independent, in London.last_img read more

Phish Announces 1995 Deer Creek Show For ‘Dinner And A Movie’ Episode 12

first_imgPhish has announced the details for Episode 12 of the band’s weekly Dinner and a Movie webcast/cooking series. This week’s installment will feature the band’s June 19, 1995 performance at Deer Creek Music Center in Noblesville, IN. As per its previous weekly editions, the stream will air for free at 8:30 p.m. ET. Read along with our Deer Creek ’95 Stream Companion for more information and context on the show and era in the world of Phish.Phish ‘Dinner and a Movie’ Ep 12 – 6/19/95 – Deer CreekThe twelfth episode of Dinner and a Movie—the oldest entry in the series to date—follows the 8/31/12 “F— Your Face” show, the 7/27/14 Merriweather “Tweezerfest”, the 7/25/17’s Baker’s Dozen “Jam-Filled” night, Magnaball night two (8/22/15), last year’s first night at Mohegan Sun (7/19/19), the first night of the band’s 2016 Halloween run in Las Vegas (10/28/16), the final night of 2017’s Mexican destination event (1/15/17), the band’s first of three nights in Alpharetta, GA in 2018 (8/3/18), the out-there 1997 U.S. tour opener featuring a guest appearance by LeRoi Moore of Dave Matthews Band (7/21/97), and the improv-heavy second night of their 2018 Madison Square Garden New Year’s run (12/29/18), and 2013’s Friday night at The Gorge (7/26/13).This week’s Phish Dinner and a Movie stream will benefit the Equal Justice Initiative. EJI is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.For this week’s recipe, drummer Jon Fishman turns to Jim Hamilton, Phish’s touring chef, for one of Fish’s favorite dinners on tour: Miso-Glazed Salmon with Bok Choy and Brown Rice plus an appetizer of Fresh Spring Rolls. The recipes are below. Whatever you decide to make, tag us at #phishdinnerandamovie.Miso-Glazed Salmon with Bok Choy and Brown RiceIngredients:4 portions of salmon3 Tbsp white or red miso 2 Tbsp mirin1 Tbsp honey2 t tamari sauce4 heads baby bok choy2 garlic cloves1 Tbsp sesame oil1 t toasted sesame seeds 1.5 cups brown rice3 cups of waterSalt and pepper1 limeInstructions:Start by combining miso, mirin, honey, tamari in a bowl. Whisk thoroughly add salmon so the salmon in coated and covered. Turn oven on to 350 degrees. While that marinates start your rice. Place rice, water and 1 Tbsp salt into a covered pot and bring to a boil before turning down to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 30-45 min.Rinse bok choy well and cut in half longways. Mince your garlic.On a covered (with foil or parchment) sheet pan place salmon evenly space and drizzle excess miso mix over salmon. When your rice is 10 minutes from completion put salmon into the preheated oven. Cook 8-12 minute depending on your doneness preference. While that’s in the oven, in a sauté pan on med-hi add sesame oil, garlic, a pinch of salt and bok choy flat (or cut) side down. Cook 2-3 minutes or until slightly softened and color turns darker green. Turn off and toss with lime juice. Fluff brown rice. Now you are ready to plate! Garnish with sesame seeds, cilantro, or sliced green onions left over from your rice paper rolls.Fresh Spring Rollsmakes 12 rollsIngredients:12 Rice paper sheets2 carrots1/2 cucumber1/4 cabbage (any type)1 red pepper6 radish1 bunch fresh mint1 bunch green onion1 bunch cilantro or Thai basil1 limeSalt and pepper1 bottle sweet chili or Thai peanut sauceInstructions:Julienne carrots, cucumber, red pepper, green onion, cabbage, radish and place in bowl. Then pick leaves of the herbs (to taste) add them into bowl along with the juice of the lime. Mix thoroughly and salt and pepper to taste.Fill a large bowl (wider than rice paper sheets) with hot tap water. Dip rice paper one at time in hot water until just softened and place on a clean smooth surface. Now place your raw vegetable mix in the center. About 5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide and tall. Now you’re ready to roll. Fold sides in first then roll tight but delicately like a burrito. Place on a plate so they are not touching (they will stick to each other). Don’t get frustrated, first one is never perfect! Once they are all rolled, chill in the fridge until cold and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.Expandlast_img read more

IMCA seminar to focus on cranes

first_imgThe seminar, which will be held at the Novotel Hotel, will focus on all aspects of offshore cranes for a range of applications including subsea, wind energy, heavy lift and decommissioning. It will also look at the future of subsea lifting. Mark Ford, IMCA’s technical manager, said: “The Lifting and Rigging seminar is a great way for delegates to get involved in discussions on issues affecting the industry. It’s an opportunity to identify common issues and needs for offshore contractors, which can feed into future strategies and guidelines for improvements.” The seminar is aimed at subsea contractors, offshore crane designers/manufacturers, equipment suppliers, crane training and academic institutions. It will feature a combination of presentations and workshop sessions, with a focus on facilitating discussion between contractors, suppliers and research institutes. TechnipFMC’s David Cannell, chairman of the event, said: “We have a great agenda and important contributions from major industry contractors, operators and suppliers. “It’s also an opportunity for delegates to hear about some of the latest technology and thinking on crane operations with presentations from top academic and training institutions.”  www.imca-int.comlast_img read more

LIVE: RB Leipzig – Atletico Madrid, start of the match –…

first_imgTonight, the intriguing clashes from the quarterfinals of the Champions League continue. RB Leipzig and Atletico Madrid will face each other at the Jose Alvalade Stadium at 22:00. The result is 0: 0.In the 4th minute of the match Halstenberg made a shot from a movement to the door of Oblak, but the ball did not find the target. Atletico Madrid responded with a header by Savic in the 10th minute, but Goulashi caught the ball confidently in his hands.Carasco made a very nice and strong shot in the 13th minute, but Goulashi did a great job and kicked the ball into a corner. A little later, Atletico Madrid demanded a penalty for a violation of the goalkeeper of RB Leipzig against Niges, but the referee allowed the game to continue.Atletico Madrid made an excellent attack on the left in the 33rd minute when Carasco entered the penalty area, but Klosterman managed to clear the ball away from Goulashi’s goal. Two minutes later, a heavy clash between Savich and Halstenberg stopped the match for a few minutes, as both players had to receive medical treatment. Fortunately, they both continued the game.RB Leipzig tried to create trouble for Oblak and Atletico’s defense in the 41st minute, but with joint efforts the “mattresses” coped with the situation.RB Leipzig – Atletico Madrid 0: 0Here are the starting lineups of both teams:RB Leipzig: 1. Goulash, 23. Halstenberg, 5. Upamecano, 16. Klostermann, 3. Angelino, 7. Sabitzer, 44. Campl, 27. Lymer, 18. Nkunku, 9. Poulsen, 25. OlmoAtletico Madrid: 13. Cloud, 12. Renan Lodi, 2. Jimenez, 15. Savic, 23. Tripier, 6. Koke, 16. Herrera, 8. Saul Niges, 21. Carasco, 19. Diego Costa, 14. LlorenteJudge: Shimon Marchinyak (Poland)[🏧👥] 𝐍𝐔𝐄𝐒𝐓𝐑𝐎 1⃣1⃣ !!🔴⚪# AúpaAtleti | ⚽#RBLAtleti⭐ #UCL | 🌉 # Lisbon2020 pic.twitter.com/wBIMNILcaz– Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) August 13, 2020 Follow us anywhere and anytime with the mobile application of Gong.bg. You can download it from Google Play, App Store and AppGallery.last_img read more