'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Thursday 28 April 2011

I've warned in the past about how good David Cameron is with words. I'm big enough to admit that I may have been wrong about that....


I've blogged in the past about how David Cameron uses language very well, in order to mask his 'not-from-our-world' ness by using both the words and the phrases of everyday folk.

He was at it again today. Using a familiar phrase, one that his spokesman has defended by saying 'I think you will find it is a popular advert'. Cameron wasn't just trying to put down his opponent, he was also subliminally trying to send out a message to the public, 'look, I understand the language of everyday culture, I watch the TV, I even know the adverts.'

But this time (ha! ha!) he got it wrong. Patronising. Sexist. Supercilious. He sounded, to coin that phrase, less like a man who owned the place, more like a man who didn't care who owned the place. And we probably saw his true colours.

Liberal Conspiracy had a good insight into the world of David Cameron the other day (You'll have to swallow a lot of anti Nick Clegg bile, but hold your nose and have a gander anyway).

And Johann Hari (in a much longer piece about Ed Miliband) highlighted a few other examples...

'It only happens for a second – but once every few months, Cameron's spin-mask slips, and his real assumptions about Britain and its class system seep out. You could see it when he said his multimillionaire aristocratic wife is "highly unconventional" because "she went to a day school". You could see it when he called himself part of "the sharp-elbowed middle class", as if being worth £30m and getting your first job by getting the Queen's equerry to call up and demand to know why they didn't let you past the interview stage is "the middle" of British society. And it was there in a recent factory visit, when he defended the trebling of university fees to the workers he met by asking: "Do you think it's right that your taxes are going to educate my children and your boss's children?"

Think about the assumptions behind that. So nobody in that factory would have kids who go to university – but irrespective of their abilities, Cameron's kids definitely will, and so will their bosses '.

So while Cameron definitely knows what he's doing with language; and while he's very deliberately doing it to play like the man in the street (here's a few other choice examples) - you can take the boy out of Eton - but you can't take the Etonian out of the Prime Minister...

PS. Take another look at Nick Clegg's reaction to Camerons words. Straight lipped, no laughing. Good response. He could see Cameron played it wrong. He got it right.


  1. Think about the assumptions behind that. So nobody in that factory would have kids who go to university – but irrespective of their abilities, Cameron's kids definitely will, and so will their bosses '.

    Actually i think YOU'VE missed the point on that one. It IS true that someone who's a fork lift truck driver is subsidising someone who is going to uni. As it stands that fork lift truck driver might be able to go to uni now and not have to pay any fees back if he/she doesn't go above 21k.

    The real issue is how Labour are ducking the issue by not putting forward any plans.

    You are correct on everything else - it will not matter a jot if Labour put forward a flawed agenda that doesn't add up and the economy is in better shape.

    Nick Clegg has got to be the most vilified yet the most under-rated politician in British history. Then a prophet is never honoured in his own country - the truth is never fashionable and always hurts.

  2. Yes - but maybe, just maybe, - the taxes the fork lift truck driver is paying are going to subsidise his own children's Uni education. cameron's comments assume that there's no chance of that....

  3. You miss my point - the FLT driver is reluctant and indeed probably voted against Labour in 2010 as he felt that he was paying too much tax and not getting enough back. Without costed plans Labour won't win his vote back as he'll assume that all they'll want to do is ramp up taxes without performing the balancing act of benefit reforms, sound money management and helping him out with the tax.

    And it depends if you believe that there is an ever-expanding demand in future jobs that requires a degree to perform it properly.

    Engineering, IT, Maths, English - yes he gets that - but not the arts who he thinks anyone talented enough would be able to shine in anyway.

    As I said also you make the assumption that he wants or has been lucky enough to find a partner with whom to have children. Labour put their `won't you think of the children` client group above him in the end without explaining why he should be discriminated against.

    Remember he gets nowt from the state apart from NHS, any subsidy to block grant for the local council and perhaps subsidised medicines when he may be seeing down the road as he sees it people living the life of reilly AND getting everything paid for.

    While out canvassing for the Lib Dems I came across this very sort of person and was able to turn a non-voter to someone who might consider voting due to the local council's successes with crime.