Thursday, October 04, 2007

David Cameron: passionate, authentic, and postmodern.

Cranmer is most skilled in oratory, well versed in rhetoric, and an accomplished extempore speaker. He therefore understands perfectly well the intense preparation, effort and skill which go into a speech lasting an hour. And this was an hour with no lectern to hide behind, no autocue to perpetually prompt, and scant notes. It was billed as a speech coming from his heart, David Cameron said, which ‘might be a bit messy, but it will be me’.

He touched on health, education, taxation, defence, foreign affairs, immigration, the economy, the EU, and all the necessary meta-narratives of modern political discourse. He may have been short on policy detail, but there were sufficient broad sweeps to communicate the essence of what those policies corporately will attempt to achieve. It is to be a programme of societal cohesion, compassion, and the family. The orthodox Conservative themes will be fused with the ‘sensitive and humane’, and the state will intervene at breakfast, lunch and dinner in order to realise the vision.

Labour has failed to solve the problems of poverty and social exclusion because it has relied too much on state programmes which ‘treat people like statistics and not human beings’. And the best welfare system of all ‘is called the family’, Mr Cameron added. A Conservative government would not ‘ignore the state of family breakdown in Britain. I think we have to try and do something about it’. The benefits system could have the ‘crazy’ effect of encouraging people to stay apart, he said. The welfare system would be changed to reward rather than penalise couples. ‘And yes, I believe we should recognise marriage in the tax system as well’. And businesses would be encouraged to provide more flexible hours so that workers can spend more time with their families.

Mr Cameron was at his strongest when he contrasted his personal qualities with those of Prime Minister Brown; when he offered a New Conservative vision to supplant the prospect of another drab decade of Not-So-New Labour; when his raw authenticity was juxtaposed with Gordon Brown’s wooden plagiarism.

But the starkest statement, and the most concerning realisation, was put quite simply: ‘The old politics is failing, and change is required’.

Indeed it is, but neither the Conservative Party nor Mr Cameron are immune from the corrosive effects of the apathy, contempt and derision which infect modern politics. By talking of trust, he has raised the stakes, raised expectations, and placed his personal integrity on the line.

Mr Cameron insisted that the NHS must be answerable to patients and doctors and not politicians. Yet the interests of doctors and patients are not always the same, and politicians are to remain responsible for financing the monolith. And schools are to be set free, headteachers are to become omnipotent, but he is rigidly prescriptive about what should be done to raise standards. He was Blairite in his proposals to reform of public services, trumpeting the buzz words of choice, diversity and innovation, yet he and his party opportunistically oppose the closure of some local services which come as a direct consequence of Blairite reforms. There were hints of higher spending on defence, as well as an assurance to maintain the Government's existing spending plans, yet there were promises of more tax cuts for businesses. And Mr Cameron says on the one hand, concerning the EU Constitution: ‘Are we really saying to people, when it comes to how your country is governed, you can't have a say?’ He asserts unequivocally: ‘That is wrong’. Yet he leads the Party which has removed so many voting rights from its own members, and promulgated the perception that neither CCHQ nor the Parliamentary Party trust the wider Party membership.

In evidence is a willingness to combine symbols from disparate codes or frameworks of meaning, even at the cost of disjunctions and eclecticism. There is spontaneity, fragmentation, superficiality and irony. Mr Cameron is evidently a formidable politician for the postmodern age, who has promises a ‘revolution’ in freedom and control, with more accountability. He is impressive, and his vision is laudable. Cranmer would simply prefer for judgement to begin at home.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Bert Rustle said...

Cranmer wrote ... But the starkest statement, and the most concerning realisation, was put quite simply: ‘The old politics is failing, and change is required’. ...

The fundamental failing is egalitarianism. Billions are spent promoting and policing deviations from equal outcomes pro-rata with each population group. However this contradicts scientific empirical data.

Take males/females for an example. Male IQ is more variable than female IQ (Deary et al, Brother–sister differences in the g factor in intelligence, Intelligence 35 (2007) 451–456). Moreover the average is around 5 points higher (see Lynn, R. and Irwing, P. (2004) Sex differences on the Progressive Matrices: a meta-analysis. Intelligence, 32, 481-498.). Consequently, nearly all really stupid people are male and nearly all really clever people are male. So there is not only a glass ceiling but also a glass floor for females.

Until the Lib-Lab-Con Establishment Party acknowledges such empirical facts, the West will continue heading South.

4 October 2007 at 08:27  
Blogger Lord Higham-Johnson said...

Lord, save us from Pomo. Amen

4 October 2007 at 16:09  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

Has His Grace been at the communion wine again? Or downed a tainted wafer? Cameron's a crook and conman who wants power to serve the people who have paid to put him in power.

In evidence is a willingness to combine symbols from disparate codes or frameworks of meaning, even at the cost of disjunctions and eclecticism.

If by 'disjunction' you mean self-contradiction, yes, that is a cost. One that Bliar was always willing to pay too.

There is spontaneity, fragmentation, superficiality and irony.

Insincerity, IOW.

Mr Cameron is evidently a formidable politician for the postmodern age, who has promises a ‘revolution’ in freedom and control, with more accountability.

What does that mean? His Grace can't explain any more than Shameron can.

He is impressive, and his vision is laudable.

His self-contradictory, fragmented and superficial vision is what?

4 October 2007 at 18:05  
Blogger Jeremy Jacobs said...

Have yop seen Melanie Phillips take on the Cameron speech?

4 October 2007 at 21:44  
Blogger Wrinkled Weasel said...

Before autocues and word processors everybody spoke extempore and they did it because they had a decent education and were able to call upon classical culture and experience and if you went to the kind of churches I used to go to you would get hour-long sermons that made as much sense as Mr Cameron's speech. MPs did the same, all the time. It's a party trick.

What we need is a hero, not a debating society prize-winner.

5 October 2007 at 01:06  

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