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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

Clegg sounds cool on BS

The DPM was tackled by a punter on Nick Ferrari's LBC phone-in this morning on the whole idea of the Big Society.

Let's just say that not only did we find out he doesn't volunteer much (this is a question every minister now dreads, I hear), but also that he doesn't sound too keen on the actual "label" Big Society.

He was asked FOUR times if he was a fan and four times he struggled. It was claimed earlier this week that the DPM thinks the whole idea is a waste of time and allegedly doesn't allow the phrase to be uttered in his office. This won't dispel that idea..

Read this full transcript to get the full flavour:

Punter: What volunteer work do you do in the Big Society?

NC: Well, Jill, you’ve put me on the spot, I certainly don’t at the moment do a huge amount of volunteering, I’m afraid the kind of double whammy of the job I do and three young children is putting quite a lot of pressure on my time, but of course I support a lot of charity particularly in my own constituency in Sheffield, and have of course in the past done my bit of volunteering, but I think the wider question if I may say so Jill is not just, has x or y done a number of hours volunteering but do we think generally as a society we should have all the answers provided to us by officials and politicians in Westminster and Whitehall, which was the kind of Big State approach I think particularly over the last decade or so, or do we think communities can make up more of their own minds for themselves about what they want in their local area and that is the kind of general approach

NF:  Are you a fan of the big society?

NC:  I’m a really big fan of the idea that we turn a page on the kind of on the big state and that we need to give whether it is through local authorities, or local activism, or local volunteering, we need to give people much greater space and freedom, to shape their own communities in the way that they think is best.

NF:  But are you a fan of the big society, does the big society as a proposition, has it been sold well, does it work, do you like it?

NC:   Look it is a label, a set of words which I think actually speaks for something which runs quite deep in the British psyche which is that people don’t like to constantly be told what to do, what to think, they don’t like, last week, a good example, we actually talked about it on the radio last week, and I took a lead at this, we’ve repealed the right of local authorities to spy on your bin, to break and enter into your home, to have a sort of poke around your house and I think what we are doing is we are restoring peoples sense of privacy…

NF:  So you do like the big society?

NC:   I like the whole underpinning of a big society in which people…

NF:   Golly, why won’t you say you like the big society…

NC:   No, I’ve just said of course I like the big… of course I like the concept of the big society, I’m trying to explain the concept of a big society…

NF:     You do like it?

NC:   Of course I do…

NF:    So why aren’t you doing it?

NC:    Why aren’t I doing what?

NF:    Because we are all meant, even if we have got 3 young children, as I know you have, we are all still meant to be running our village pub and becoming school governors, and taking over the local park, shouldn’t you lead by example?

NC:       Well I think if I tried to run the local pub now I’d be too stuck trying to explain the fees policy, and too busy to serve any drinks… I think the whole idea and the big society bank, which was announced over the last few days, will be a real boost to giving social enterprises and voluntary groups and others the kind of means they need to get going and take control of their own areas in the way in which we think really works

 

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