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The Tories' 'Big Society' makeover is history

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Reading David Cameron’s declaration of war on regulation at the CBI (“Dig for Britain! A motorway in every garden!”), what’s striking is how much the PM has changed since the Big Society idealism of the late Noughties. All those high minded, communitarian fancies have been chipped down, mixed with sand and turned in to concrete. Caring and sharing is behind us – the road to growth is open!

I was working at the CBI at the height of the Conservative Party’s Big Society makeover, just before the Credit Crunch. It was a frustrating time to be a business lobbyist. The Blair/Brown government had saddled the labour market with a long list of equalities policies that were high-minded but only affordable so long as the economy was in growth. One of the great untold stories of the time was the impact of law suits claiming back pay for women in the public sector who had been historically underpaid. It was a just cause, but it also cost schools and councils millions of pounds.

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