Monday, March 17, 2008

The Cameron Social Contract

It does not quite rank with that of Rousseau, who was primarily concerned with how freedom manifests itself in civil society, and the reality that restraints upon the freedom of the individual are necessary if community is to function at all. But David Cameron has articulated a philosophy that not only resonates with ‘middle England’ (wherever that be) but is consonant with the thesis of rationality and morality; namely that physical freedom is inescapably linked to civil freedom, and that only by agreeing to surrender some of the former can the latter exist at all.

His big theme – or meta-narrative - is the central importance of the family. Cranmer has written upon this matter before, and he is delighted to hear Mr Cameron talk of rewarding marriage in the tax system and extending parental leave. Marriage (of male and female) is manifestly the foundational building block of civil society, attested to by millennia of empirical evidence. And it is right that the institution should be supported by the state because not all ‘lifestyle choices’ are equal and not all should be equally endowed. Cranmer believes that it is right and noble and good that the financial liberties of the individual should be curtailed to support families in the bringing up of children, for only by acknowledging the supremacy of the nuclear family will civil society rediscover its civility at all.

But it is even more of a delight to hear how such policies fuse with wider Conservative philosophy. Eschewing any promise of tax cuts (with which, as much as he longs for them, Cranmer agrees), Mr Cameron states that ‘money is tight and we've got to make choices’.

Well, indeed it is, and, as a man trying to persuade the British public that he should be the next prime minister, indeed he does. But it is not so much that these choices have to resonate with the British people, but that there should be choices at all.

At the moment, Labour provides ‘untrained outreach workers’, while Mr Cameron insists that we need ‘more trained professionals who really know what they're doing’.

He continues:

They exist already. They're called health visitors. Highly-trained NHS professionals who come to your home and build up a strong, trusting, personal relationship with your family. They have a huge part to play in making everything seem manageable. They don't judge, they help out. And that's why it's not surprising that overwhelmingly, parents say it's this kind of help and support they want: from a trained professional, in the home.

‘But under Labour, the number of health visitors is in freefall. Many are set to retire, with no plans to replace them. It's got so bad that in some parts of the country you're lucky to see one at all. According to one report, the drop in health visitors has led to serious medical conditions going unnoticed, poor diet - and even cases of rickets.

‘That's why I'm announcing today that a Conservative Government will provide a universal health visiting service to all parents. We're going to radically increase the number of health visitors so that every family can count on the proper, professional support they need. Another 4,200 health visitors. With money set aside for proper training and extra help for families in the most deprived areas...’

Mr Cameron insists that he will ‘be careful with public money - especially when times are tough’, and this is the foundation of his Conservatism. It is not his money, and neither is it the Government’s; it belongs to the people. His mantra will be that ‘Labour investment’ amounts to nothing more than ‘Government waste’, and with this he is pledged to stop government profligacy and to be responsible with public spending.

And when he pledges to do this against a backdrop of ‘family-friendly’ terminology, and dares to be filmed by cameras in his home in order that people may see what an utterly ‘ordinary bloke’ he is, one begins to detect the Cameron Social Contract. He desires ‘more flexible working, extending parental leave, corporate responsibility, more NHS health visitors’.

It may be the sort of ‘touch-feely’ Conservatism that irks those who are persuaded by the dogma of individualism, but true Conservatism has never exalted the individual above civil society; indeed, it is a parody to insist that it ever did. The small state and lower taxes will happen, but only when families are assisted in their raison d’être and disfunctionality ceases to be a drain on the public purse. It is strong families which will mitigate social problems, and by promising to invest in them Mr Cameron shows himself to be a man of integrity and vision.

The liberties of the individual are enhanced when they are curtailed to augment the liberties of the family, because within communitarianism is a mutual protection and peace. The group collectively is more important than each individual that makes it up. The sovereign and the general will are more important than its subjects and their particular wills.

And before anyone condemns Cranmer for inclining toward state totalitarianism, consider for a moment that we now live in an age where individual rights have become the supreme expression of being; a totalitarianism that insults civil society and breeds mutually exclusive and perpetually competing sub-communities who will never acknowledge the primacy of the whole. Under Labour, the British people are not free at all, and there are profound difficulties in interacting with one another in any meaningful way. Decisions and behaviour are largely dictated by an over-mighty and arrogant executive that believes it rules by a notion of divine right.

If Mr Cameron is doing anything with this announcement, it is establishing that the zeitgeist of relativism is at an end. The focus on the smallest community – the family – does not intrude upon individuality; rather, in the long term, it gives individuality an outlet for its fullest expression. As Mr Cameron says: ‘That's why this family-friendly stuff is Conservative - seriously Conservative. It's about solving our social problems for the long term. Reducing demands on the state. And showing that the way to do it is through social responsibility, not state control.’

Under a Cameron premiership, the state will privilege the family.

And Cranmer says amen to that.


Blogger The Heresiarch said...

The liberties of the individual are enhanced when they are curtailed to augment the liberties of the family, because within communitarianism is a mutual protection and peace."

Tell that to a girl who's being shipped off to Pakistan to marry her middle-aged cousin.

17 March 2008 at 07:47  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...

"He desires ‘more flexible working, extending parental leave, corporate responsibility, more NHS health visitors’."

And he wants everyone else to pay for it.

Might I venture to suggest that the family is already supported in the system. If David Cameron had any real desire to build up the married family unit, he would remove those incentives that people have to bring up children outwith that unit.

The first thing to do is to scrap Child Benefit. Now. It rewards people for having children and takes no account of how they are brought up.

End the system whereby single mother's get priority for state housing. Now.

Mr Cameron's vision does not need more money to be stolen from the rest of us in order to support his preferred lifestyle: it requires that the state stops paying for those lifestyles which are undesirable.

And this...

"And before anyone condemns Cranmer for inclining toward state totalitarianism, consider for a moment that we now live in an age where individual rights have become the supreme expression of being..."

... is contradicted, within the same paragraph impressively, by this...

"Decisions and behaviour are largely dictated by an over-mighty and arrogant executive that believes it rules by a notion of divine right."

As usual, the proponents of a certain lifestyle demand the right to reach deeper into the pockets of everyone else in order to fund their preferred approach.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.


17 March 2008 at 08:19  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Humble Devil,

His Grace is a little puzzled by your assertion of contradiction, for he sees none.

17 March 2008 at 09:54  
Blogger Skin One Up said...

His Grace appears to have been born again as a National Socialist.

17 March 2008 at 11:52  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Money is tight because Labour have spent far to much. we have not had value, and it wories me that Cameron appears unable to talk about it. If he showed examples of how much Labour have wasted and how much could be saved withot any reduction in services, in fact front line services could be improved and taxes cut.

17 March 2008 at 15:05  
Blogger mongoose said...

"we now live in an age where individual rights have become the supreme expression of being"

Even Your Grace nods. Good grief, we have never lived in an age with a more illiberal approach to individual rights. What about my right to walk down the street without being spied upon? What about my right to do as I please unmolested as long as I harm or inconvenience no other? I cannot walk to the shops without some eegit filming me with a CCTV camera. Soon I shall have to show my ID card to every tin-pot tosser who asks to see it. Doubtless this will be to ensure that my individual liberties are not infringed upon by anyone. By anyone else but the state, that is.

And the golden age of universal civility after which you yearn has never existed, old chap. The poor of spirit are ever with us and, alas, their earthy ways can be, of occasion, aesthetically affronting. What you object to is the fact that these rough-hewn proles are now visible to you on Mr Baird's Apparatus. Turn it off, Sir, and get ye back to your devotions.

17 March 2008 at 15:54  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Mongoose,

His Grace did not say that these 'rights' amount to liberties. The irony is that the Age of Rights has supplanted the Age of Reason.

His Grace rarely nods, and when he does, it is his choice to do so.

17 March 2008 at 16:01  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Off topic, but I am sorry to see the idiotic Church of England logo sported on this blog. It is all of a piece with the switchboard girls at Church House saying, "The Church of England" when you ring them up.

17 March 2008 at 16:53  
Blogger mongoose said...

>His Grace did not say that these 'rights' amount to liberties.

Nor did His Mongooseness for they certainly do not. The erosion of liberty is actually implemented as a system of so-called rights. I don't want any more rights, thank-you, I am happy with the liberties that... Ah, and there we are. They seem to be lost. How do we get them back?

17 March 2008 at 18:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


17 March 2008 at 19:54  
Anonymous Cinnamon said...

Maybe health workers prevent rickets, but most likely, they'll be snooping on people who are seen as less than 'perfect' and it will result in yet more stolen children for the NuLabourborn project the SS is running. Put another way, if I had a child, a spying disease vector like that would not cross my doorstep.

Mr. Cameron is a socialist at heart, there is nothing much conservative about him ... there is so much fat to trim off the socialist paradise that the UK has become, but instead of shrinking the state to a functional level, he is promising us all to make it even bigger and more intrusive than ever. And his general talent for advanced hand waving does not promise much good either for the future[1]... :(

So, all in all, the UK can vote for champagne socialists, closet socialists, national socialists and some bunch of guys who don't remember who they were and are, other than they they call themselves 'liberal democrats' for some strange reason lost in the mist of time.

[1] Maybe I am somewhat biased, having just listened to Dan Carlin's podcast on Winston Churchill... but Mr.Cameron is a depressing joke when you compare the quality of leader, then and now. Have a listen here just to remind you how they used to make 'em...:

17 March 2008 at 20:26  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
the mantra of socialism is to do with unity , of course many will know that unity can be a force of bad or good.
to the best of my knowledge the basic heterosexual family unit has been the best method of creating and bringing up children.

i wonder if history will be kind to labour , with its youthful revolution themes and call to unity .

Mr cameron may indeed be finding new terrority with family policiies , but that is only because the situation of our great institutions is so dire (thanks to labour and euro socialism) tht politicians are having to discuss not only what has changed but what has also disappered.

they may well ask the questions on what to do , they may well point out that the situation is bad . if only they took responsibility your grace and admitt that there has been an over reach and common natural sense deficiet created much to the detriment of the society we see around us and what is in it individual minds .

if only the book of revelation had been a bit more specific for the mps perhaps they would not have themed legislation so strongly that challenged family health and function inpreferance to non heterosexual claims to betterment.

17 March 2008 at 22:19  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Your Grace
As usual, you are complicated in your beliefs, which is what makes you so interesting. Cameron does well with these new moves. But it is true, he would do better to also stop the encouragement given to young women to have children out of wedlock.

He is just a little too chameleon-like, don't you hink? He only ever says what he thinks the voters would be happy to accept. I don't feel like we really know the man.

But you paint him in a good light Your Grace. And I am listening.

17 March 2008 at 22:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gotta agree with anonymous 1954

Boring post?

Adds whole new dimension to the word.

17 March 2008 at 23:19  
Anonymous Gouv. Morris said...

The British peoples are allergic to freedom.

18 March 2008 at 01:46  
Blogger Cranmer said...


You are perfectly free to leave and dwell elsewhere.

His Grace is not here to entertain the undiscerning who lack even the creativity to acquire an identity.

18 March 2008 at 07:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much longer do we have to be ruled by these sixth form sociology students, it's been nearly eleven yrs now, when is the Military coup going to start.

Why exactly do we need Govt interferance in childbirth and care.

Would the Country run better if MP's were locked out of Westminster and the people just allowed to get on with their lives.
Our Police could Police Nurses Nurse and our Judges could settle any disputes.

Come on Queenie, close that Building down, put the Generals in charge till we can sort this mess out.

23 March 2008 at 13:24  

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