The Not So Big Society – Lessons from Greece

As regular readers will now, I’ve been using the title of this blog as an excuse to ponder the kind of social changes we’re going through, and what it will mean for the most vulnerable in society.

I’ve been reading a fascinating article about a Greek island, and how it’s been affected by the economic collapse in that country. I suspect that we’ve got further hardships to come here in the UK, so I was left wondering whether it might have any lessons for us in the near future.

The article describes the island of Samos, and it’s clearly been hit hard.

Evidence of the crisis, the lack of jobs and the absence of money in people’s pockets is everywhere. In the two major towns of the island, Vathi and Karlovassi, approximately a quarter of the shops are now closed. Most of those that remain open are offering such discounts that we assume it is a matter of time before they shut too.

A friend who has a tourist shop in Vathi thinks at least another six shops will close by Christmas, with more to follow soon after. In our village we have two tavernas – and they only survive because their owners take no income. What income can you take from only selling a few Greek coffees and some beer and ouzo in the evening?  Continue reading

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Eat the Poor

In yesterday’s post I wondered whether the coming austerities will make us a more selfish or selfless society. I’ve just noticed an article on the Huffington Post (with a coincidentally similar title to the one I used) that draws a depressing conclusion.

Social Attitudes Survey shows Big Society is Getting Smaller

This week’s British Social Attitudes Survey is a blow for the left. 54% of respondents think employment benefits are too high, 63% blame parents for child poverty and fewer people are willing to give up their own hard-earned cash to reduce the income gap. People appear to be becoming more individualistic. As Penny Young, the Chief Executive of the National Centre for Social Research, says, ‘In a time of economic austerity and social unrest, the big question coming out of this year’s report is whether we really are in it together, or just in it for ourselves?’

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What would the Not So Big Society look like?

I gave this blog its name as a bit of joke – an unsubtle thumb-to-the-nose at a rather vapid piece of Tory branding. But just lately I’ve been pondering what it might mean. What would a Not So Big Society look like? As opposed to Cameron’s Big Society – or for that matter Miliband’s Good Society, which Labour started as a retort but then realised it meant even less than the piece of mouthwash they were responding to.

Permit me to use this post as a bit of musing on the kind of nation we may or may not become over the next few years. Let’s take a gaze at the Not So Big Society…
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