Last night we hosted a local Churches Together event where we invited our local MP (the Conservative David Rutley) to talk about the ‘Big Society’ and discuss the part that churches play in it.
I thought the evening went well. It was a good opportunity for dialogue as well as questions, and I’m sure there are benefits in us developing a relationship between churches and local politicians. David Rutley’s pitch was to draw attention to the things which local churches had been involved in and encourage us to keep doing them.
Overall I’m still left with two questions. First, if the government really believed in its ‘big society’ agenda it would push ahead with abolishing local education authorities and make every school a free school, it would radically change the NHS so that it is a mix of mutual, commercial and government provision, it would cut corporation tax to encourage enterprise and reduce personal taxation; all in a drive to slim down the size and intervention of government. Second, if the government really wanted to promote the ‘big society’ it would increase gift aid so that the government match funded private donations, and focus more attention on consistent support for areas where community needs to be fostered and encouraged (primarily but not exclusively inner cities), working with organisations which can help make a difference.