Monday, 14 February 2011

Not the relaunch, part 2

Now you know you have arrived when you discover that Nick Robinson is reading your Blog. Hi Nick! I spoke to him this morning at the not the relaunch event in Somerset House with my colleague Sir Stuart. We were seated at the side of the room. Was there a metaphor here? Big charities at the margins? But no. It was because we had been girded out of our seats on the flimsy excuse that that was where the PM would be sitting.

It was a good speech. David Cameron is a superb communicator. It was a top class performance and you can tell that this is something he believes in. He wants us to play a bigger role in service delivery and to grow. In my question to him I described how I had been depicted as a fan of Big Society on BBC Radio Humber, which had surprised me as I have been a vocal and vociferous critic of the cuts. I said we strongly welcome the emphasis on public service delivery. I warmly welcomed the Big Society Bank, but I said that cuts are damaging the very organisations that have to deliver a bigger society. I urged him to look at action on local Councils to stop them making cuts.

Although he said they could not order a cessation of the cuts he did seem to hint at action they maybe looking at. And a bit later he said that we might need "a bit of bossiness" to deliver the Big Society. I agree. So a green light for ACEVO to hammer home the point. We shall. Let's see if we can get action from him on Council cuts.

But my am I feeling tired. A good job Sky News put some make-up on me before I did the recent news slot! And I'm looking so old. Those jowls. Still, it makes me look a sage and experienced. Which of course I am.

Let's see if this speech and the recent press helps promote the cause of a bigger society. We certainly need to work with them on this. But to do this those around Cameron need to involve the wisdom of the sector. Get the big charities on board in delivery. So more idiotic attacks from so called Big Society advisors or other pundits. Get it real and rooted in our great sector

The Government also need to stop attacking Big State. The reality is that we need to work with local Councils, with Health Authorities to deliver more innovative and properly funded public services. We also need to work with business. An excellent article in The Times today about how big business can play a role in delivery. This is right. We need to encourage partnerships between the third sector and business. Partnerships like the one between Turning Point, Catch 22 and Serco in running prisons. Partnerships that are emerging in the work programme. So a little less of the romanticism about us all doing a little more volunteering and promoting a joined up partnership approach would be helpful.

The narrative has been poor. It can improve. And we can help do that. But first, Prime Minister, understand you cannot pull the rug from under our feet and expect communities to thrive. It was the central point of my question to you. I await the answer. Then together we can.

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