This week saw the Prime Minister David Cameron attempt to re-launch his "Big Society", despite the failure of the concept to take off during the election campaign, which saw him fail to win a majority against a 13 year old Labour Government that presided over one of the worst recessions in living memory.

The scheme, which seems to aim for greater individual responsibility, volunteering and community power at the expense of the state, has so far failed to enthuse many even among the Conservative Party and its supporters in the media.

However it has also been accused of being a cover for public sector service cuts by the Labour Party, a view apparently shared by senior Tory backbencher David Davis who is reported to have said in private that the Big Society was simply "Blairite dressing" for cutting back the state.

He is also alleged to have said that those who talk of cutting back the state can expect to be treated like "Attila the Hun".

There is unfortunately something in what Mr Davis says after 13 years of Labour government in which the state tried to do more and more and encouraged the view that only it could improve the lives of the people.

Shortly after the coalition took office it was announced that it would be scrapping free swimming for young people, introduced last year by the Labour government. The move was immediately pounced on by Labour figures who said the policy was essential in helping poorer people to swim and improve their health, despite the fact that a study found that most people who benefited from the scheme would have been happy to pay for it anyway.

So far it has been nearly impossible for politicians to have a serious discussion about the size and role of the state, for Labour because they have too many vested interests and for the Tories because they are too afraid of being seen as the "nasty party" which takes things away from the poor, regardless of whether the poor want or need those things.

Whenever confronted with the prospect of cuts to the public sector the standard answer from most Labour politicians and trade unionists is that this will mean thousands of lovely nurses, teachers and policemen being thrown out of work.

They never mention the prospect of Equality and Diversity Managers, Enviro-Crime Enforcement Officers and Breast Feeding Support Co-Ordinators, who might find themselves looking for something useful to do as a result of cuts. Indeed one wonders how women were able to breast feed in ages gone by when the state was not there to tell them how to do it.

By contrast the Conservatives seem reluctant to trim such jobs from the public sector wage bill for fear that they will be attacked by the public sector unions for attacking "frontline services". Even Margaret Thatcher, demon of the left and goddess of the right, failed to halt the rise of the state, with many of her "cuts" actually a refusal to spend more.

How refreshing it would be if both the Labour and Conservative parties could have an honest debate about this issue, which costs taxpayers billions of pounds a year. It would be nice to see Labour politicians defend the need for the Breast Feeding Support Co-Ordinators and such like, while the Conservatives could behave more honestly by saying that they would actually like to cut some of the spending of the state on such things not only because we apparently can't afford it, but because people might just get by without it.