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.
Posted by Richard Morris at 10:50