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End politics as theatre and be real says Rowan.


POLITICIANS have to move away from "politics as theatre" if David Cameron's Big Society is to work, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams warned last night.

Speaking to members of Cardiff Business Club, Dr Williams called for a move from "politics as personality clash" to "real" politics, saying only then could the principles of Big Society, where power is handed to local communities, work.

At the event, sponsored by Uwic, Dr Williams said: "This idea of politics as public theatre, I believe politics is more than theatre.

"If, here in Wales and here in the UK, we can begin to take ourselves far away from the tyranny of politics as theatre, politics as personality clash, if we can have a campaign for real politics, maybe the big society has a chance of working and maybe we can all play a significant part in that."

He said people should not "dismiss or laugh off the language of big society too quickly". Similar principles could be found in Wales' history of co-operatives.

He said: "Some people might say they have heard this before, isn't it part on one level of the great co-operative position of Welsh society and politics? "Granted, it's not new, but it has recently come to the fore as a way of talking about a positive future for this country.

"We should take the opportunity offered by big society language seriously. We shouldn't write it off in advance, we shouldn't give way to cynicism.

It has the capability to change our priorities."

Echoing claims by critics that spending cuts would destroy Cameron's Big Society vision, he warned that, to work, the Government would need to commit resources and build "capability".

Local and community initiatives, he said, would only work with "investment, strict standards, sustainability, partnership between national and local, state and individual society".

He added that a 0.05% tax on transactions by global financial institutions (known as a Robin Hood tax) could be combined with the Coalition's idea for a Big Society bank to help fund local initiatives. "The challenge of giving power away from the centre to local, to communities to individuals is a bit more complicated than it at first appears. "It may seem quite simple to say the state can't provide solutions, local communities must, but if it is to work it will need the Government to think very hard about resources and capability-building. It cannot be - it must not be - a matter of Governments finding an alibi and it is a principle which, if it applies in this nation, should apply globally.

There are people who say present Government policy is stopping us doing what the Government wants us to do.

"Many people currently feel if Government wants us to do this at a local level government has to find some way of developing and building capability locally.

"We all know that is a challenge but challenges are there to be risen to."

Dismissing Sir Terry Matthews' claim that "Wales needs more greed", Dr Williams said: "I sort of understand what is being said there but I think there is a dangerous confusion between greed and aspiration. We need aspiration. One of the real problems that Wales often faces is low aspiration."

DANGER AHEAD BRITAIN and its allies should be wary of getting too involved in the crisis in Libya, Dr Williams warned.

In answer to a question after his speech to Cardiff Business Club, Dr Rowan Williams urged caution.

"As soon as we allow as a general principle that we want to be invading wherever we think something is going on we are on a very difficult and dangerous path, for them and for us.

"I think there is a line beyond which we are simply taking ourselves down what can be, for us and for them, a destructive path."


[bar] Rowan Williams, Cardiff Business Club PICTURE: Andrew Davies [c]
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 29, 2011
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