Wednesday 4 June 2008

It's The Society, Stupid

Returning from Oxfordshire last night (I'd been away on family business - apologies for blog absence), I slumped in front of the TV news, dazed with fatigue, and - well, maybe I was hallucinating, maybe my brain had seized up, but, vaguely watching David Cameron, in his shirtsleeves, on the Cameron Unplugged live tour or whatever it is, I got an impression that he was talking something like sense and that he seemed at last to have some kind of 'vision'. The gist of it is, I think, that it's no longer the economy - that's just a matter of management - it's the society, stupid. This is going to be where politics happens now, and it won't be a matter of the state pumping in money and controlling every thing, to the point where nothing happens, but of those already doing good work being helped, encouraged and left to get on with it. Maybe I'm reading too much into this - it was way down the bulletin, drowned out by a busy news day - and maybe I've taken leave of my senses - but it might just be that the Tories are beginning to 'get it'. On the other hand, they probably won't be able to do anything about it. And my normal blanket cynicism about the whole of British politics will no doubt kick back in, once I get over the journey from Oxfordshire...


  1. I think Tories always 'get it', Nige. It's just that they somehow managed to conflate the ethos of freedom and individuality with that horrible Thatcherite creed of every-man-for-himself and bugger-the-poor. I think it's why the Tories should be rightly worried about their one weakness in the next election, which is Cameron himself. As admirable as his message may be, he will still alienate some voters who will see him as just another Tory toff.

  2. Nige, I would like to disown the person who made that previous comment. I notice that it attempts to make sense and clearly cannot have been written by me.

  3. Yes, a rare lapse, Richard - and I think I might have been guilty of the same myself. It'll pass...

  4. Nige, spot on. It really is all about society.

    Back in December 2005 (the 9th to be precise) I sent this email to David Cameron

    Dear Mr Cameron

    I am writing to you following today's news reports on your plan to tackle 'quality of life' issues under a group chaired by Mr Gummer. I think it sounds like a good idea, but I have one reservation. Many of us in Britain increasingly feel disenfranchised from politics, and the policies that are expounded. Of course involving everyone in such a process is impossible, but it will only improve things if we all feel that we are in someway being listened too, and things actually

    The information coming out on Mr Gummer's group talks about Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace being involved in the study, which I suppose is natural, but groups like these, and others, have vested interests and often seem detached from the real world. All too often they seem to be trumpeting ideas and issues that have some altruistic agenda that perhaps comes from those who help fund such groups and are themselves part of the political establishment

    In short why not get individuals involved in these studies. Real people, who know about real things, in the real world. People who may not know all the answers, but equally don't have a compromise axe to grind. I'm not suggesting 'people's panels', or whatever that loony idea that Labour had a few years ago was called, just arguing that it would help in getting a more balanced view across.

    Quality of life is not about the big picture, it's about the small things - the things that make our lives worthwhile, and meaningful. Unless people can see the benefits for them, and see that this is about matters that make their lives better, then this idea will stumble. The main reason why so little has worked on environmental issues is that those who are pushing them at governmental level fail to engage people in the process (and I hate this trend towards using the word engage, but cannot think of a better one). Many people do not buy into the ideas and philosophies of groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. For millions of people in this country they just seem like part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Anyway, just my small contribution to the debate. The Conservatives will continue to have my vote, even if here in Scotland it has become increasingly difficult to vote for such a disorganised bunch who seem bereft of policies.

    I never did get an answer from him but did get a sort of non reply from John Gummer. The Quality of Life report that he and the boy Goldsmith did largely seemed to miss the point.

  5. Yes I think the improbable IDS's report on the 'broken society' might have been closer to the mark than Gummer's. To judge by Boris's first actions (and noises), he seems to be thinking along similar lines too. Hope? Well, we'll see...

  6. Richard, just you and I = 2 votes for Annabels crew, never, in the field of twisted logic, was so much fucked up for so many, by so few.