CLD & the Conservative Party
I have been putting off writing this article for a while and I really don’t know why as this gives me a great opportunity to promote Conservative values to colleagues working in Community Learning and Development.
Working in or studying Community Learning and Development is an interesting process there is, a lot of social theory, a lot of community empowerment, an unhealthy amount of feminism (obviously not for the guys) and indiscreetly a lot of socialism. The outcome is a professional elite working hard to support the vulnerable and community groups; the downside in some cases is due to the training they can be people blinded by socialism.
This doesn’t need to be the case, there is a real alternative in thinking and this is through modern conservatism (the glass drops!).
Since Mr C took the leadership of the party we have seen a modernisation of our message. Our values are still the same of little government, supporting business, protecting families, low taxes, etc. We have become a lot better at explaining ourselves and policies and this is in my eyes why we as a party gained a lot of votes at the last general election. One of the policies which I think is a hidden treasure is the Big Society. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Big Society however I fundamentally believe should this be supported by all, it would be good for the country and good for the most vulnerable.
The Big Society is all about putting the power back in the people’s hands, helping them improve their own lives. This is the same principle that is in the DNA of Community Learning and Development professionals so why aren’t they engaging with the party that wants the biggest amount of power ever transferred from Whitehall to local communities? The party that wants community empowerment, encouraging people to play an active role in society and opening up public services. We have come a long way from the Iron Ladies statement about there not being such a thing as society yet those working with communities just don’t want to engage with us.
So what forms the big society? The Conservative lead government are providing new funds for social enterprises and charities through a Big Society Bank, they have opened a new £30 million fund to help modernise organisations that supply critical support to front-line charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises and they piloting innovative new social impact bonds which will allow everyone to invest in programmes that provide intensive help for families blighted by anti-social behaviour, crime, addiction and poor education.
These measures have the community in mind, insuring the local community groups and charities are funded to provide the services that so many vulnerable people survive on. This government though is not just stopping the work there, they are recruiting 100,000 Big Society ‘Digital Champions’ to help get online some of the 9 million people who have never used the internet and one policy area that is exciting me is the National Citizen Service for 16 year-olds. The National Citizen Service is a great tool for local communities to use, in engaging young people back into their community through gardening projects, entertaining the elderly, and many other roles. In fact it reminds me a lot of one of the values Sir Robert Baden Powell installed into the Scout Association back in 1907.
The Conservative party is changing, we have come a long way, and arguably have a long way to go. We have a dynamic team of candidates who represent all walks of life. So I call my fellow Community Learning and Development colleagues to drop their guard, have an open mind and review their support to the Scottish Conservative party.