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Sunday, August 24, 2008

The common touch

Never let it be said that this blog is afraid of a bit of plagiarism when it comes to reporting all the hot news, especially if it means that I have to do less work.

In this case, I am grateful to Matt Withers for summarising the interesting bits from Dylan Jones's 'Cameron on Cameron'. His sacrifice means that I do not have to burden my local library for a request that they obtain a copy, let alone actually read the tome.

Matt does not admit to reading the whole book, in fact he specifically refers to 'the parts I have read over the past week', from which he claims to have been filled with a sense of general misery, both at 'the vacuousness of much of Cameron’s world view in particular, and at what passes for political thought in Britain more generally'. I will take any port in a storm in an effort to prevent the book passing over my threshold.

After all the fuss about Nick Clegg switching his allegiance from Ocado* to Sainsbury's this week it is a bit of a relief to find another party leader whose sole experience of the credit crunch was when he accidentally fed his American Express Gold Card through a paper shredder (yes, I made that bit up, but you get my drift). Matt Withers continues:

How out of touch is he? Try this for size, talking about how his wife keeps him on his toes: “I was lucky in that Samantha – as much as the papers keep writing that she comes from a very blue-blooded background – is actually very unconventional and is hard to put in a box. She went to a day school.”

Cameron genuinely believes there is something “unconventional” about a “day school”, i.e. the notion of going to school in the morning and coming back in the afternoon, despite the fact that that’s what I, probably you, and almost certainly everyone you know did.

How posh is he? Asked whether he considers himself middle-or upper-class he merely describes himself as “well off”.

Which is fair enough, really. Cameron’s estimated personal wealth is a mere £3.2m, which puts him well below Shadow Cabinet colleagues Lord Strathclyde (£10m), Philip Hammond (£9m), George Osborne (£4.3m) and Jeremy Hunt (£4.1m).

Now I am not one of those who thinks that just because a politician has a bit of money or went to Eton then that must disqualify him from public office. It takes all-sorts after all. However, I would expect them to understand that 'day school' is the normal experience of the vast majority of the British public and would in no way be considered unconventional by any of them.

I believe that there was a time in the 1950s when the Cabinet discussed the mortgage rate only to discover that not a single one of them had ever borrowed money to buy a property. That story may well be apocryphal but there is a real danger that we might reach such a point again if the Tories ever get back into power. Perhaps that is something Cameron will address in his next reshuffle.

In the meantime, it would also be helpful if he subjected himself to some real scrutiny. Does anybody really know what the Tories stand for? I don't and if their spin doctors have their way we will not know until after they have got their well-fed butts onto the chairs around the cabinet table. It is like Tony Blair and 1997 all over again. Matt Withers once more gets to the point:

And how skilled at PR is he? Asked about what he learned in his seven years as head of communications for TV firm Carlton, he says he “learned that spin and PR will not get you where you want to go, and that truth is the most important commodity”.

Quite. Which is why he is attempting to win over the electorate by getting a fashion journalist to interview him about Pot Noodles and Lily Allen.

As long as nobody asks him about his underwear again, as they did during the Tory leadership contest, then we may be able to sleep more easily.

*This may well be the subject of a blog post on its own, but what exactly is Ocado? It certainly does not exist in most of the South Wales area. How exactly does referring to it reflect the experiences of ordinary people. Like me they most probably first heard of it only when Nick Clegg mentioned it (if they were listening of course). Couldn't he have used a more down to earth example such as switching from Sainsbury's to Lidl?

"...Now I am not one of those who thinks that just because a politician has a bit of money or went to Eton then that must disqualify him from public office..."

Seem to remember the Grocers Daughter that the Tories had made a real mess of our country and our society (not that she believed in “a society”), I can see Mr Cameron being of the same mould as the formidable Mrs Thatcher (the Milk Snatcher), come to think of it, he’s probably the same mould as Tory Blair.

The post Thatcher consensus and the economic philosophy on Milton Friedman have resulted in a major shift to the right in both the Labour and Conservative parties.

The comments about no Tory cabinet member, in the 1950s having had a mortgage, how many of the current cabinet been to a state school on a Council Estate or been involved with the Trade Union Movement?
Just for interest, Ocado does operate in South Wales ... and as it is the third party delivery service which brings groceries from the Waitrose in barry to eager homes in Penarth, very popular it is around here too!
Quite partical to Waitrose food, so is the misses, if we are either on the Ross Spur (Monmouth) or in Bath (taking the waters, don't you know) we often end up in Waitrose.

Would you know if Ocado delivers to Maesteg?

G. Lewis
Formally "disgruntled of Taibach"
Go on the Ocado website and put in your post code and it will tell you.
Nope! Not yet at any rate.

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