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“I’m not going to do ANYTHING for you”

John Rentoul

william bad 203x300 Im not going to do ANYTHING for youTime for the monthly treat from David Hayes, who writes about British politics for the Australian Inside Story. This month his subject is the Big Society, and he starts his essay with a vignette from a Richmal Crompton William story. In it, the children decide to elect their own prime minister – and guess who emerges victorious? Our hero’s celebrations are interrupted, however:

A bold voice pipes up: “What’re you going to do for us?” William is indignant to the folds of his rumpled socks – and nobody does indignation better. “Do for you? Do for you? I’m not going to do anything for you. I’m going to rule.”

Hayes’s analysis of the origins of the Big Society idea – or, as he says, if that is too French, slogan – and the reasons for its persistence is characteristically fine. His writing has some lovely touches. Of the vagueness which is one of the slogan’s strengths, he says:

Well into the coalition’s five-year term the Big Society still had the flavour of a smile without a cat.

And he returns to “William, Prime Minister”, the story in William – The Bad, at the end to deliver a delightful punch line.

Do read it all.

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  • porkfright

    One writes cobblers.

  • Pacificweather

    I would have selected the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as her greatest achievement and many would say saving the Falkland Islands but who are we to argue with John Campbell. The Poles are certainly grateful that British trade union powers have been curbed.


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