Ed Miliband just quoted Paul Twivy, former chief executive of the Big Society Network, during prime minister’s questions. It’s worth repeating the quotation because I haven’t seen it in any newspaper before.
According to the Third Sector website, Twivy – who stepped down as ceo in October but is still involved in the network – admitted that the BS idea was not popular.
“The big society is a raw ideology promoted by the Prime Minister,” he said. “It is divisive even within the Cabinet, and it is increasingly loathed by the public. The problem with the big society is that we’ve had huge ideologies come and go before.”
It is a striking confession, coming from someone so closely involved in the Big Society, and one which Miliband used to deadly effect.
Cameron came off worse during today’s clash between the two leaders, attempting without much success to defend cuts to charity budgets.
For Miliband there were a series of open goals. He pointed out that four libraries could be closed in Cameron’s own constituency: “Can he explain to people how can he expect people to volunteer at their local library if it has been shut down?” He then followed it up with a sharp line: “Society is becoming smaller and weaker, not bigger and stronger.”
Cameron was forced to fall back on the obvious response, which is that Miliband seems very vague on what he would do – “we’re still waiting for his big idea” – and that Labour have made cuts if it was in power. The BS concept still had support across all sides of the House, he insisted less than convincingly.