Another day of examining the bedroom ceiling. When I redecorated, I glowed with the satisfaction of having created a perfect surface, hours of enforced study now tell me otherwise. My allotment pals are still giving me a wide berth, understandably they have no wish to spend days on the trot. My news has arrived via mobile, Albert Senior has fallen out with Junior, three hens have escaped and Jack has dropped a can of creosote on to a tray of eggs. Much as normal then.
But there is one benefit to be had from such a long period of enforced isolation. It teaches me that thinking first and spouting later is no bad thing. So far today my grey matter has flicked backwards and forwards between England’s match with Sweden and the plight of our dear leader, who looked anything but his usual bullish self at the Leveson Inquiry. England will shortly dismiss my worst fears, but the Cameron issue is I find on reflection a much more complex matter..
When I read political history at university I came to realise that some prime ministers have been remarkably better than others. But almost all of their eventual triumphs or failures centered around their various ideologies. Far right, far left, or somewhere in between, they all weaved their webs of deceit and bluster around one objective, to impose their political beliefs and to create a new society of socialism, capitalism et al. David Cameron is different, he is a true enigma.
As Robert Jay QC gleefully confronted him with endless text messages exchanged with his pals in the Murdoch clan it occurred to me that ideology never appears. Everything he did or said was aimed at building friendships at almost any price. And come to think of it, apart from the ludicrous wheeze about a big society, it is hard to recall him giving any indication of a fixed political view. Indeed he has frequently gone to some lengths to avoid committing himself to any belief.
Having checked on comments made by the many journalists he has entertained it is clear that most came away surprised at how little he said about Conservative values. or any others for that matter. The general impression seems to be that when he talked of “one of us” he was referring to something social, a friendship based not on political belief but of a “chumocracy” which transcends all else. Journalists at large have liked him as a man but detected no ideologial thread that bind’s Cameron’s No 10 together.
How different from the stories on record of interviews with Thatcher for example. Francis Pym famously complained that she would regularly ask “is he one of us?”. But she was referring to shared ideological beliefs, demanding that all those in her circle were united in their right-wing views. Other interviews with people like Grumpy Gordon, Alex Salmond and the like tell a similar tale, they would hand out the drinks and bang on about policies.
In a way this all sounds a positive for our dear leader. It sounds more democratic. But there is a major problem. Given his background David Cameron lives in a social world few of us can imagine. So he became utterly enmeshed in the Chipping Norton set. TV pictures of him being welcomed by Rebekah Brooks look more Royal that the Royals themselves. Her messages to him speak of our wonderful socials with so many “OETs”. To her and to him, and his wife, the whole world comprises the Etonian set.
In effect Cameron has made a total mess of the whole affair. He created bonds that inevitably guaranteed favours. He had no realisation that he was creating his own doom.
And this is the most amazing aspect of our dear leader’s descent into purgatory. Because by rights he should have been perfectly placed to handle the press better than any previous prime minister. He is the first to have been a professional public relations man. For years he practised the art skillfully, it was his full-time job to know what makes a journalist tick; when to dangle the carrot, when to apply the stick.
On achieving office he launched his media charm offensive. What has landed him in deep trouble is the methods he employed. He set out to befriend rather than convince and he focussed on the only piece of society that he knows. When he attacks Ed Miliband as being too thick, too uneducated, he is merely reflecting his view of everyone outside of his elitist set.
In many ways Cameron is a post-ideological PM, who used his superlative social networking skills a little more than he ought to have done He put ideology and sense of political danger aside.
Somewhere under that veneer of polish lies a decent man. The good book tells us that we must love one another, in the case of a man whose beliefs are vague and who shares the social view of Rebekah Brooks that they are “in this together”, the chance of him ever being widely loved in the way that Churchill was is remote indeed.
If he does survive he will take his party down with him!
QUOTES FOR TODAY; “Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your rest home”……Phyllis Diller “I believe that sex is the most beautiful, natural, and wholesome thing that money can buy”…..Steve Martin “A minor operation is one performed on somebody else”……..Victoria Wood