Which side are you on boys? (With apologies to Billy Bragg)

Who is society? There is no such thing!

Politicians are frequently misquoted. People often say it was Margaret Thatcher who said that ‘there is no such thing as society’. In fact in her 1987 speech for Woman’s Own she actualy said “…who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business…”

Fast forward to a speech David Cameron gave in 2010 when he described the ‘Big Society’. Cameron said “We need to create communities with oomph – neighbourhoods who are in charge of their own destiny, who feel if they club together and get involved they can shape the world around them.”

With a little cross pollination you could end up with, “no government can do anything except through people….” who “club together and get involved”.

Self Help – A call to arms!

So today we learn that ahead of planned industrial action this Thursday headteachers and communities are being called upon to look after themselves, minimise disruption and keep their schools open. This call to arms may see those neighbours who are able and who hold the necessary qualifications help their community by making sure hard working parents are able to get to work as normal without worrying about their child’s school being closed. Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron would surely approve of such self help.

But here is the kicker. This has nothing to do with bringing communities together. Nothing to do with making a more robust, cohesive society. It’s not even really about making sure pupils get a good education.