One thing does now begin to emerge clearly from the Tory conference. The Big Society is, we are now told, not a fig leaf to cover up cuts. Rather, it is a grand idea, a big plan to transform society over a period of time. And at the heart of the big idea is that the state should be smaller. So we can forget all of the hypocritical nonsense about the cuts being forced on the coalition. This is the real fig leaf, concealing the fact that Cameron and Osborne, to name but two, are ideologically committed to reducing the size of the state come what may.
If there were any doubt about the caring, Big Society image that we are being presented with, Jeremy Hunt, the culture minister, has rediscovered the undeserving poor: families having lots of children at the state’s expense. This is more crass than the misunderstanding of the nature of child benefit revealed earlier this week – it cannot work in so simple a fashion as to cap benefits.
It is the same Tory ideas, full of petty prejudices that pander to the worst instincts.