David Cameron sets out to resuscitate his ‘Big Society’

Written by David Singleton on 12 October 2016 in Diary

The old slogan is back!

The Big Society may longer be spoken about in Westminster, but David Cameron has announced that he will continue driving forward the project in his first role after quitting politics.

The former prime minister will become chair of National Citizen Service patrons, overseeing the expansion of the National Citizen Service which helps teenagers to gain life skills.

When the service was announced under Cameron’s premiership, the Government described it as "a flagship initiative supporting the government’s vision for building the Big Society".

In recent years the term Big Society has been dropped, but the Government is introducing a National Citizen Service Bill to create a Royal Charter to put the National Citizen Service a permanent legal footing.

Writing in The Telegraph, Cameron said: "I am delighted that my first role in my life after politics is to continue my association with this fantastic programme.”

In a speech in 2010, Cameron enthused about the Big Society, saying: "Things that fire you up in the morning, that drive you, that you truly believe will make a real difference to the country you love, and my great passion is building the Big Society."

But in 2011, then deputy prime minister Nick Clegg's aides were forced to deny reports he had banned the use of the term in the Cabinet Office.

And a few years later the term was so out of fashion in Westminster that Conservative ministers had stopped talking about it to avoid upsetting the Lib Dems.

"In deference to our Liberal colleagues in the coalition we haven't majored on the phrase,” said Tory minister Oliver Letwin in 2014.

Plans for an annual Big Society were also put on hold in 2014, but minister Nick Hurd denied the term had become an embarrassment and insisted: "Arguably, every day is a big society day."

That proved to be a moot point, but either way Cameron is still standing by the old slogan.

He states: “Overall, NCS is a fantastic example of the positive and inspirational role young people can play in our modern, vibrant society. It is the Big Society in action.”

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