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The 25th Hour

Posted on 2 April 2010 | 11:04am

The image of Britain presented by the Tories is of a country of wrecked communities filled with feckless individuals and all of it is the fault of the Labour government.

One of the best rebuttals of their broken Britain nonsense is the growing culture of volunteering, which will build and build towards one of the most important legacies of the Labour government – London 2012.

When Tony Blair went to Singapore to help swing a few final votes to defeat Paris for the right to host the Olympic Games, a big part of the promise made was about legacy. The pledge was that a London Games would leave behind a meaningful legacy of sport and infrastructure as well as a social legacy that would last well beyond 2012.

I’ve written here before about how construction and planning for London 2012 remains impressively on time and on plan – and about the media’s near total blackout on good Olympic news. But what about the so called “social legacy” promised in Singapore? What does it mean and how will it work?

This week we started to see the answer to that question as a coalition of charities, government departments and voluntary bodies launched the 25th Hour campaign, inspired by London 2012.

One of the reasons Britain is far from broken is because of the commitment millions of people make to others, to helping out friends and neighbours, coaching kids in sports, working for local community groups.

There are as many ways to give time to others as there are seconds in the day.

The thinking behind the 25th Hour is to recognise the millions of people who already give time, in ways big and small, in every corner of the UK, and to inspire even more to do so.

People who register on the site as time-givers will be eligible to win Olympic rewards, including money-can’t-buy experiences like access to the dress rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony.

The 25th Hour is designed  to build over the next two and a half years, with a major annual event in October on the day the clocks go back – when we literally have a 25th Hour in the day. Users of the website will get information about opportunities near them where they can give their time, or they can find out how to get a group of people together to pitch in on something they care about. It only takes a small amount of time to make a big difference.

Although this campaign isn’t about games time volunteering, more than 300,000 people have already put themselves forward to be volunteers at the Olympic Games themselves. So it’s clear that people are already excited about the chance to give their time, inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This doesn’t sound like a broken Britain to me, but a Britain up for the best Olympics with the best legacy.

* Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour

  • Chris Watts

    I always think you have to worry when the person who tells you something is broken and you can’t really see it, is the same person who offers to fix it. Wheither that by dodgy Dave the cowboy builder or Dave the politician.

  • Nick

    Any experienced politics-watcher would acknowledge that the tide has moved firmly back in David Cameron’s favour this week. And the polls continue to be just terrible for Labour. Only 29% in today’s Guardian. From his excellent National Insurance tax cut to the jobs tax attack, to Labour’s panic retreat on the Death Tax, this has been the week that the Tories won the election. Alan Johnson’s woeful performance on BBC Question Time last night was symptomatic of a Labour party facing the firing squad.

    Its time for change.

  • Mark Wright

    I’m always amused when the Tories bang on about ‘broken Britain’. To quote the late, great Bill Hicks “Where is this sh*t happening?” The answer of course is that it’s not. Yes there are deprived communities, yes this country faces a multiple of challenges but to suggest it’s broken is just wrong.

    The ‘Broken Britain’ tag the Tories are trying to hang on this country won’t ring true with the electorate because it simply *isn’t* true.

    Ironically, due to recent scandals such as MPs’ expenses etc I believe the public actually feel *more* empowered than at any time in the past few decades. They are looking closely at their elected representatives and what they say and no longer taking anything at face value.

    Great for Labour. Not so good for the Tories. Ou est le soleil pour le Conservatives?

  • Tricky Dicky

    The broken society is a myth for sure…however there are still problems and much still to be done.
    I was reminded yesterday of how people mis-judge our youth and do them a real injustice. At the checkout of my local Tesco’s a young lad (12-13ish)in front of me had what looked like a few days essentials (bread milk etc) when the girl finished adding it all up the young lad was short by 43p
    embarassed he went bright red and looked for something he could put back.
    I offered 50p to the girl and said “its ok I don’t mind”.
    The lad was grateful and insisted he will get the money from his mum who was in the carpark.
    I said “ok dont worry its not a problem”….never expecting to see my money ever again.
    As I walked to my car the young lad ran up to me with 50p and thanked me while he pressed the money into my hand.
    I was surprised but as he walked away I noticed him walking towards an large lady in a car who must have been his mum. The car had a disabled sign on the front and on the back window.
    Now Cameron’s Britain would tell the story a very different way…..infact I doubt anyone would recognise it.

  • gary Enefer

    Dear A C

    This is brilliant. thank you for making me aware of the 25th hr I have shard it with my Facebook Friends and encourage others to do so.

    Jesus is thought to have died on the Cross at 3pm on Good (God’s ) Friday.

    Bets wishes for Easter. Thank you for the blog -is it one year or two years now?


  • Alan Quinn

    As usual Ally, where Manchester leads the rest of the country follows, ie Manchester’s 2002 Commonwealth games was a success due to the army of volunteers, now the cockneys imitate us.
    Btw as you’re a film buff, The 25th Hour is also a cracking film, directed by Spike Lee starring Edward Norton.

  • Brian Hughes

    Some people I’ve canvassed have said they feel insulted by the broken Britain tag. Not quite as insulted perhaps as those who live in a ward described by their one Lib Dem councillor (bless him) as “a slum”.

    Properly handled in the short campaign, this Tory smear could backfire on them.

    And don’t get me started on Cameron talking up the importance of the community and voluntary sector whilst all across the land his Tory councillors are busy imposing stealth cuts on the sector’s budgets so they can shave tuppence a year off the council tax bills…

  • Robert Jackson

    The Conservatives claiming that britain is a broken society denies very unfairly the efforts of thousands of long standing service clubs. I speak of Rotary, Lions, Round Table (of which there are about 1000 clubs EACH in the UK) plus offshoots such as Rotaract. All have as members folk who want to put something back into society. All have strong community service activities.

    I was involved with one of these organisations for about 10 years before mental health issues and elderly parental care duties dominated my life.

    The organisation in question has an acid test “The four way test” which members are expected to apply in the things they think, say or do:

    Is it the truth?
    Is it fair to all concerned?
    Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
    Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

    It is a VERY tough test by which to conduct one’s affairs as it is very easy on the one hand to accuse others of failing to comply with one part of the test but, on the other hand, one’s own accusation probably falls foul of a different part of the test.

    For example calling somebody a liar is not exactly working to build goodwill and better friendships nor is it often fair.

    The problem as I see it with politicians becoming involved with volunteering as a matter of POLICY is that in a democratic society the tools and practice (practise?)of politics are difficult to reconcile with the four way test.

  • SimonGittins

    All very commendable stuff but what has it got to do with the ‘broken Britain’ tag ? one that is even more relevant now with the horrendous levels of debt this government has saddled us with.
    You’d had to be blind to believe that 13 years of Labour’s failed policies hasn’t adversely affected this country.

  • Robert Jackson

    Mt Gittins,

    If I may, how is granting a £200,000 inheritance tax break to the 3000 richest households in the land going to improve matters in the Britain you are describing as “broken”?

  • Patrick James

    On the subject of “Broken Britain”, I think that if you were to ask the people you know, “what is broken about Britain?” they would talk about banks, parliamentary expenses, non-dom peers etc. I don’t think they would say that looking at our society it is clear that the problems it faces are caused by the residents of impoverished areas of the UK.

    If there is some kind of moral breakdown in the UK then it is at the top, in finance and in politics.

    I think this is where the Conservative party has been so wrong. For David Cameron to enter impoverished housing estates with a camera crew, on his crusade against “Broken Britain” it does seem really rather hypocritical. To find a moral breakdown in British society David Cameron needs to look rather closer to home.

  • Nicky

    @ Robert J: good posts, especially about the four rules.

    I think more people are waking up to the fact that Dave isn’t sincere, and is just coming out with whatever soundbite he thinks is going to push the right buttons. The actions of his own party undermine what he says – the example about volunteer groups’ grants being cut by Tory councils says it all.

  • Graham Jones

    First impressions of the new poster aren’t as high as they could be. However, after a few inspections it does begin to plant a few seeds. It reminds me of the 1980’s as it’s intended. but it also makes me think back to the recession of that decade. It reminds me how the tory government walked away from taking actiion to protect jobs and people: it reminds me how the tory government blamed ‘market forces’ for everything, and how they were powerless to act (now we see that you can, and must act); and it reminds me of the two cities of Thatcherism, one was built from greed, and the other was built from cardboard. Why does Labour not use the cardboard city to back up the 1980’s narrative. The Gene Hunt poater is not enough, not merely because people like this character in the show. It’s the world he inhabited that needs to be painted, to leave the electorate in no doubt, as to what a tory government does in an emergency, and how they close ranks in their country manors.How about a cyberspace world of the 1980’s, where people can see what it was like for themselves. I don’t know what the budget is like, but it may be worth investigating. Another idea is to use MTV style videos, which connect quicker with people.