It has been interesting to see that Nick Ramsay (the incumbent Tory member for Monmouth Constituency in the National Assembly) has been waxing lyrical about the sad decline of the quality of life in our rural communities over the past decade with the loss of many invaluable rural services such as pubs and village halls.
He goes on (and on) about the loss of the pubs and village halls that were once the heart of rural communities. His solution to the well recognised problem is that people who use local services take control of them. This is not due to any great Tory commitment to rural life, but, more down to a pressing need to once again flag up David ("Call me Dave") Cameron's flagship policy - 'The Big Society' which has been lacking of late in the media (nationally and locally).
Cameron's 'Big Society' is a nice idea, but, with present financial circumstances it may end up being consigned quietly to the poltical dustbin. One thing it does anticipate, is a future trend of Government at all levels simply being there and providing next to nothing or at little as long as it costs the least (and claiming it's expenses for the privilege).
This sudden Conservative concern about society and community is all pretty ironic especially when you consider that Mr's Thatcher a Conservative (and Blairite / Brownite) icon once said that there was no such thing as society. No doubt that provided the inspiration for Mr Ramsay, as the following extracts from the Assembly records of claims would seem to suggest that he might well have been inspired by the spirit of self interest rather than anything else:
07-Apr-08 Nick Ramsay - Second Home Electrical Goods £977.95
(Sony LCD TV £549.99 Sony Surround Sound £159.98 Product Support for Surround Sound £59.00 Product Support for LCD TV £169.00 Logik 4m Aerial Cable £9.99 Scart £29.99)
Expenses aside the new bottom line is when you have ineffective and inert Government, then if you want a civic or fair society or merely want to reopen an old railway station, save a village pub, or community centre, a local primary school (Govilon and Llanover - to name but two), a cattle market (Abergavenny) or perhaps even a magistrates court (Abergavenny and Chepstow) then it will be up to us to make Government act on our behalf (whether it wants to or not) and find the money.
Unless of course said citizens find themselves in opposition to something that Government (central or local) wants to happen in which case then they will find themselves fighting against the full weight of the machinery of Government (at all levels) and all the inbuilt bias's and intricacies of the planning system. This is not in essence the Big Society that Cameron droned on about long before the election, this is people making Government at all levels pull its collective finger out and do what they want for their communities.
Roll on the day when Government's are afraid of their people, rather than the people being afraid of their Government. And that after all is the stuff of a collective New Labour and Conservative nightmare and the beginnings of a real Big Society.