Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stroke My Spaniel And I'll Bite You, Cameron

David Cameron scares me. Somehow he has managed to convince half the British electorate that he isn't Margaret Thatcher in a Tony Blair skinsuit, when he very obviously is. How did he pull off such a confidence trick?

The hopelessness of Gordon Brown's Government helps. Imagine, waiting for a job for ten years (or however many it was since Blair and Brown did their famous Mephistophelian[is that the spelling?] Deal) and then finding out you are utterly useless at it. Brown is a prime minister for a different age, one that passed many, many moons ago. He's just not superficial enough to pull it off in this age of media manipulation initiated by his former boss Mr Blair and his demonic sidekick Alastair Campbell. It's not the message that matters anymore, Gordy. It's how your hair looks when you deliver it.

Cameron's talk of believing in the individual and not the State has even, somehow, convinced cynical political observers that he's saying something new. But Thatcher and Reagan were saying the same thing in the 1980s. They just said it more aggressively. Cameron strokes your metaphorical cocker spaniel while he's saying it so you think, "What a nice bloke," and don't notice the subtext.

Think of the recent stuff about people taking responsibility for their weight. "The State didn't make you fat"--that was the implication. So you must take more responsibility for managing the problem. But whichever Tory speechwriter came up with the wording for that one put it so cleverly, they managed to make it sound as if Gordon Brown personally is somehow insulting you with all your qualities of personal strength and resilience by offering help for grossly overweight people on the NHS; while at the same time the speech played beautifully to the prejudice of all the perfect thin people who think being fat is somehow a sign of moral weakness, and lays the ground (nobody seemed to notice) for cuts in services that might well be desperately needed.

And that will happen. All of Cameron's cutesy, people-friendly policies and his anti-State perorations are sweetly-worded groundwork for a society that serves big business and satisfies the mean streak in the national character.

Of course, if you're a selfish materialist who dislikes everybody who doesn't resemble you, that isn't going to be a problem. Figuring out that plenty of voters in Britain these days fit both of those preconditions (though thankfully not everyone) and then reselling his perception with industrial helpings of Asda own-brand sweetener was probably what won David Cameron the election two years before it was held.

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