Radio 4’s Analysis programme on the Big Society

I didn’t catch all of this on Monday when it was on but there’s still a few days left to listen on the BBC iPlayer — R4’s Analysis programme investigates the roots of the Conservatives’ big society ideas. Listen here.

Cameron’s chief strategist, ex-Saatchi-ite Steve Hilton is largely credited with being the primary architect of the big society. Fascinating to see that on the Financial Times’ Westminster blog here there is a summary of Hilton’s strategy bulletins and indeed all of the key ideas are there — small government, civic action, transparency, ‘post-bureaucratic’ approaches to ‘nudging’ behaviour and manipulating social norms, social entrepreneurs… It’s all there.

Introducing the contents of strategy bulletin No. 5 Hilton says it contains some “some cool ways of harnessing the power of information”. This gives you a clue regarding the origin of many of these ideas: the US. Hilton has spent significant time there, relocating to California when his wife, Rachel Whetstone, got the job of vice-president of global communications and public affairs for Google.

In April this year, the Sunday Times called him “Cameron’s secret weapon”. In January the Mirror called him “a dangerous law-breaking road menace who routinely jumps red lights and cycles on pavements”.

So now you know.

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