Barclay’s announces £6.07bn profit a week after £200m is pledged to The Big Society

February 15, 2011

Barclay’s  Bank has announced pre-tax profits of £6.07 billion pounds and is soon to be followed by the remaining top 5 banks of The UK – HSBC, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered – pushing the annual profit of the Big Five up to £15 billion. This comes just a week after David Cameron successfully negotiated a £200 million charitable donation to his Big Society vision from these very banks. Assuming £15 billion is the watermark, this donation equates to 0.013% of the profit.

The sum of £200 million was, like an 18th century school bully, literally thrashed out between the government and the banks last week. A chicken feed sum in comparison to the gargantuan figures being offered up this week; inept in its petiteness.  That they are so proud of this achievement smacks of desperation and is bitterly in-keeping with the rest of the flowery Big Society ideal.

Originally championed before the outset of the 2010 general election, the Big Society has slowly escalated into the modus operandi of the current leader of the British Empire. As the words Big Society slowly fall victim to semantic satiation (the phenomenon where the continued repetition of a word strips it of all sense and meaning; a kind of repetition blindness) it is worth highlighting the original ethos. Over to you David Cameron.

The big society is about changing the way our country is run… This is not another government initiative — it’s about giving you the initiative to take control of your life and work with those around you to improve things

He goes on.

People have the compassion, flexibility and local knowledge to help their neighbours and communities. Our approach will not merely enable them to build a stronger society, it will actively help them to do so

A sort of Dad’s Army for government. Taking the power from government and placing it in the hands of volunteer groups, charities, neighbours and friends is such a nice idea. They can let little fluffy bunny rabbits dictate planning permission and leave the rubbish collection to the clean fairies. Perhaps flooding response units can be handled by the local school children and the public libraries can rest safe in the hands of the local prisoners, out on day release for good behaviour.

A nice round sum of £200 million should just about cover it. Or it would, if, as according to some, it wasn’t just a big fluffy buzz word dreamt up to pull the wool over the nations unsuspecting eyes; a cover-up for the monumental public spending cuts that are currently being unleashed across much of The UK. More than one labour cynic has labelled the whole idea as doomed. Ed Milliband, speaking in a Sunday newspaper last year he stated that

“No one can volunteer at a library or a Sure Start centre if it’s being closed down. And nor can this Conservative-led government build a Big Society while simultaneously undermining its foundations with billions of pounds worth of cuts to the voluntary sector.”

Cuts? Well such is the state of the record budget deficit in the UK at the moment that £80 billion will be cut from public spending over the next 4 years. Liverpool has already pulled out of the Big Society after having to cut 1500 jobs due to the cuts. So many cuts. At least they can all volunteer now. Local authorities, left right and centre, have been slashing grants to the very charitable and volunteer groups the Big Society hopes will keep the grass and hedgerows looking green and pleasant.

£200 million can barely buy you an injured footballer these days, let alone fixing the world. That such a small amount is deemed a success by the powers that be; that they feel it is the cornerstone to the ideal, is a sucker-punch to the very people whose shoulders The Big Society rests. We take the blame for this ineptitude and for the small sum that they think can bring about the change.

As the annual bonuses for Barclay’s bank top brass currently sits at £2.16 billion, the 0.013% is put into some perspective. Whether The Big Society is blind Utopian Idealism or a serious contender for the future remains to be seen, but it is going to take a lot more than peanuts to quell the monkeys.

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One Response to Barclay’s announces £6.07bn profit a week after £200m is pledged to The Big Society

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