The Observer has been running a short column since the election by an anonymous civil servant, called Secret Diary of a Civil Servant.
I don’t always remember to read it, but the piece for Sunday 21st November had the chilly tang of authenticity about it — ‘Welcome to the ever-diminishing world of the ‘big society’ it was called.
At one point, he or she says:
Despite the flaws, those closest to the PM are still infatuated with the big society. Suggesting to a minister that one of their ideas “links well with the big society agenda” and then watching their facial expression is a good test of their loyalty. Some smile confidently in agreement and look pleased, but others cynically roll their eyes while accepting that it is a useful smokescreen to explain a cut or the cessation of a service. Most Lib-Dem ministers refuse to even utter the words big society and take pleasure in scribbling them out of draft letters and speeches if civil servants have written them in.