Cameron's downfall will be the price of bread
SCENE I. Rome. A street.There is much speculation in circulation about David Cameron's leadership: is he a man or a mouse? Jelly or steel? Following a raft of damaging U-turns, it appears there are more to come (though one hopes and prays they do not include anything as seismic as a third runway at Heathrow).
[Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons]
First Citizen: Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.
All: Speak, speak.
First Citizen: You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?
All. Resolved: resolved.
First Citizen: First, you know Caius Coriolanus is chief enemy to the people.
All: We know't, we know't.
First Citizen: Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a verdict?
All: No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!
Policy indecision and a lack of political vision are undeniably damaging. But these are as nothing compared to the price of bread. Nadine Dorries made it known a few months ago that the Prime Minister and Chancellor are oblivious to the daily challenges posed by normal life: "There is a very tight, narrow clique of a certain group of people and what they do is they act as a barrier and prevent Cameron and Osborne and others from actually really understanding and knowing what's happening in the rest of the country," she said.
"Unfortunately I think that not only are Cameron and Osborne two posh boys who don't know the price of milk, but they are two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition and no passion to want to understand the lives of others and that is their real crime," she concluded.
His Grace does not cast David Cameron as Caius Marcius - 'a very dog to the commonalty'. And yet Nadine Dorries does echo something of the citizens' complaint in her criticism of the Prime Minister and his Chancellor:
Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and there's all the love they bear us.Why has His Grace taken this theme today?
While the the politocos and Westminster obsessives mutter about coalition fudges and muse about Cabinet reshuffles, famine looms. Okay, not quite the biblical sort with plagues of locusts, but devastating droughts in the USA will surely impact the cost of bread, pasta and meat in the UK. And soaring food bills will be the last straw for many hard-pressed families. Indeed, as Coriolanus discovered, and we have seen throughout history - in France, Russia or Cambodia, for example - revolution is closely linked to the price of grain: when the people are starving, an out-of-touch elite who have no concept of the price of milk can expect to be beseiged and deposed. And the fear of hunger is far more potent than the hunger itself, for, as Shakespeare observed, the people 'are all resolved rather to die than to famish'.
So, His Grace offers a word of warning to the Prime Minister: fear not them which carp and criticise, but are not able to end one's premiership: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both premiership and party in an election.