James Forsyth

Making the big society agenda real

Making the big society agenda real
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We’ve just seen the first Tory event designed to show—not tell—people what the big society actually is: David Cameron and Michael Gove speaking to a rally of parents in West Yorkshire who want to set up their own school, something that they’ll be able to do if the Tories win. At last, the Tories are selling their best policy: the right of parents, teachers and social enterprises to set up free, independent schools.

The parents at the rally today are motivated by the fact that their local school has been shut down by educational bureaucrats and that their children now have an absurdly long journey to school. To compound the problem, the school the children have to go to is really large, more than a thousand pupils, and so not what most parents want for their children.

Under a Tory government, these parents will be able to set up a school and be paid by the state for every pupil they educate. It is a great example of how the big society will allow communities to get what they want.

As Francis Elliott wrote on Saturday, the Tories have now decided—and not before time—that the best way to show people what the big society agenda means is to point to examples of it in action. If this can make the big society agenda real to floating voters in the next ten days, it could help the Tories add the three of four points they need to get into overall majority territory. 

PS: This rally looked great on TV. Having Cameron with real, 'real' people is a great look for him. We need to see a lot more of this in the last ten days.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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