Speaking out: why the voluntary sector needs to hold on to its campaign roots

megaphoneResponding to Mike Aiken’s report on campaigning and voluntary services, and with the General Election looming, Gavin Barker explores what we might actually do to counter our “hollowed out democracy hijacked by a corporate elite”. Linking the muzzling of dissent to the general weakening of democracy, Gavin argues that the election provides the opportunity to Continue reading

More evidence of Big Society sham

Armine_IshkanianThe government’s largely discredited ‘Big Society’ mantra promised to strengthen the capacity of civil society. More evidence of the empty rhetoric that surrounds the idea now comes from LSE’s Armine Ishkanian.  In an article published in Critical Social Policy, Armine examines how “…. The Big Society agenda, coming alongside public spending cuts, is affecting the … Continue reading

Community revolution entrusted to Locality

Digestive biscuitsThe issue that has, by far and away, put the national gossips in a tizzy has been the award of the £15M community organisers contract to Locality, the pseudo-business quango formed by the merger of Bassac and the Development Trust Association. Expected by all (including Locality) to go to the Citizens Organising Foundation (which at … Continue reading

Cake or death? A comment on the cuts, ‘big society’ and community sector ‘cognitive dissonance’

Cake or death image‘Big society’ is a bust, local authorities have problems of their own and economic recovery is unlikely any time soon, writes Andrew Climo, CEO of Community Leaders. His advice for people who work in the community sector? Question partnerships with the statutory sector, only do projects with profound community benefits, lobby for what your community … Continue reading

Challenging Times – lobbying local politicians at a time of cuts

Sean Creighton lists the questions to ask local politicians on their apparent interest in community action, and highlights the gap between rhetoric and practice.

“A key element in the Party political battle leading up to May’s local and national elections was over developing a new role for community and voluntary organisations in running services and … Continue reading

It’s time to get political

An Unservile Society – It’s time for the voluntary sector to get political

One analysis of the study of political history is that it boils down to understanding a certain equation: about power. How much power should the king have, how much the nobles, how much the courts, the Witan, Parliament, Government, local government, quangos, … Continue reading

Government hand washing guidance – the legacy of the CENs

“Community empowerment is local government’s core business”

Simon Milton (in DCLG’s 2007 Action Plan for Community Empowerment)

“Power is never given.”

Operation Black Vote organising slogan

One of the ironies of community empowerment networks (CEN’s) was that they couldn’t empower themselves, or more accurately save themselves from the crude dynamics of how power works at … Continue reading