“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution,” is one of those famous sayings which were never actually, precisely spoken by the person to whom they were attributed. Just as the observation that Britain is a nation of shopkeepers never came out of Napoleon’s mouth yet remains indelibly associated with him (it was his secretary who said it), the desire for revolutionary change to be joyous stuck to the American fin de siècle radical activist Emma Goldman because it spoke a deep truth about her outlook.More
At a time when massive public spending cuts are heralding the effective retreat of the state, people, communities and the third sector are expected to step in and fill the gaps that are inevitably opening up and widening. This, in essence, is the Big Society; a call to arms for active citizens and locally based organisations to build better communities; the social policy that makes the Government’s economic policies politically palatable.More
Yesterday, the United Nations hosted a high level meeting on happiness and well-being. Initiated and led by the Government of Bhutan, the meeting was attended by more than 600 people from all over the world, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, experts from the fields of well-being, economics, psychology and sustainability (including Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz), senior Government officials and politicians, and the Dalai Lama. More
For William Beveridge in 1942, there were ‘five giants’ to be vanquished by the post-war welfare state: want, idleness, disease, ignorance and squalor. He imagined that the costs to the state would diminish over time because the system would progressively prevent these ills. What has come of his vision? Where is the society which prevents harm, rather than just dealing with its consequences?
As the saying goes, ‘If you think prevention is expensive, try paying for the cure.’ Too often cure is our only focus, and we are indeed paying the price.More
You might not have noticed, but on Friday, very quietly, something quite significant in the UK governmental structure has slipped out of existence. The nine Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), eight of which cranked into action on the 1st April 1999, have now disappeared. Try to go to the website of the East Midlands Development Agency, or Yorkshire Forward, and you will be redirected to BIS (the central government department they used to report to). So I won’t bother hyperlinking in this instance…More
Two separate developments this week concerning the court system in England and Wales were connected through markedly similar justifications.More