Tuesday, March 27, 2007

TV Review: Tory Toff by Peter Hitchens

As I type this I am watching a recording of last night's Channel 4 'documentary' on David Cameron called TORY TOFF. Of course, having been written and presented by the polemicist Peter Hitchens it is not a documentary, it is a polemic. Some months ago I was approached to be a consultant on the programme. Having toyed with the idea of writing a biography of Cameron last year I was quite interested in co-operating. I thought a balanced profile of Cameron would be a good idea.

What we got last night was what I expected, and the reason why I decided not to play any part in it. It is was unbalanced, at times hysterical and at others verging on the ridiculous. If you were already predisposed to disliking Cameron you would have loved it, as it confirmed your worst prejudices. If you are a Cameron supporter you would have hated it. If you were an undecided voter it would have left you feeling cheated, not having been told much that would have helped you enhance your understanding of the man who wants to be our Prime Minister.

The basic attack on Cameron centred around his alleged 'toffness' and that there are 13 Old Etonians on the Tory front bench. He was also attacked for having changed his mind on some issues and his change of language. Big deal. I suspect everyone has changed their minds on several political issues over the last ten years. I know I have. That's politics. Time moves on, the country moves on and politicians must move on. Those that don't move on with the country are destined never to run it. But moving on does not mean abandoning your basic core principles, and Hitchens' biggest failure in the programme was his inability to prove that Cameron had done any such thing.

Hitchens reckoned that having a windmill on your house and speaking out against a windfarm in your constituency were incompatible and proved Cameron doesn't believe anything at all. The two stances are perfectly compatible and Hitchens knows it. There were plenty of other similar examples.

Cameron's success is that he understands that the country is a different place to the one Peter Hitchens thinks it is. Hitchens harks after a moalistic, socially conservative country which Britain ceased to be in about 1965. Cameron wants to build on Britain as it is today.

As a polemic programme this was well put together, well written and presented in an engaging manner. But for all that it was profoundly unconvincing.

UPDATE: Further reviews of the programme from SKIPPER and ANDREW IAN DODGE.

ALERT: 9pm on Channel 4 on Thursday - MUMMY'S WAR, a programme by Carol Thatcher on her visit to Argentina and the Falklands.

114 comments:

mitch said...

I thought the program was good and, more importantly, right in its' analysis. The 'toff' charge was not the main one and it's misleading to say so. In any case, Cameron is a toff so why is saying so such a crime? I didn't know there were so many old Etonians in the shadow cabinet.
The main charge was of opportunism and I thought Hitchens had several good examples. Of course he put his own style on the program but overall I thought it was good.
If you have connections to the Conservative party and an interest in supporting the current leadership you may have different views.

David Anthony said...

The basic attack on Cameron centred around his alleged 'toffness' and that there are 13 Old Etonians on the Tory front bench

The toffness charge was wrong and just an alternative form of snobbery. The Eton charge is legitimate and will, and should, be highlighted at the next election by Labour.

Anonymous said...

No it was not "as a polemic programme .. well put together, well written and presented in an engaging manner".

It was utterly predictable and it left this Conservative voter profoundly thankful that the next election is going to be fought, by Nu-Lab, in such a sterile way.

Colin D said...

I enjoyed the prog. Found it enlightening, as to what & who David Cameron is.
As I understand it PH was tantamount, to saying that Cameron was a mark two Blair. Also, the guy put up to defend Cameron came over as a stuffed prig. I think his name was Gove. T

penlan said...

Much was of interest and his point that with little seemingly separating Blair and Cameron, the electorate were being robbed of choice was well made.Ultimately though,it seemed to me that he preferred the wilderness of opposition where he could stay ideologically pure to engaging with floating voters.I've no problem with an Old Etonian PM.I'll stand anyone so long as he or she is efficient and honest.

judith said...

I deliberately didn't watch the programme.

I'm a right-winger who would love to see flat, low taxes, withdrawal of 85% of state management/interference, withdrawal from EU etc. And no, Cameron's style doesn't make me swoon - in fact, I rarely listen to his speeches, although I do read about them.

BUT - as a Party activist, I know that Cameron is being very successful in his approach, and I can only be thankful for it, since I loathe and detest this sleazy and incompetent Govt with all my heart.

So what if Cameron went to Eton - Blair went to Fettes, then Oxford. So what if he has fellow-Etonians in his Cabinet, providing they do the job - presumably he felt he could trust them in his early days, while finding his way. I strongly suspect there will be some developments there in a summer reshuffle.

Newmania said...

I agree Iain and I think he could have made a much more convincing case for the stain of class exclusion running throughout the Political and media world . Cameron can only emerge from the scene as it is it is foolish to blame him and he has noticeably tried when possible to open the process , take the Mayoral open candidature for example
I shall certainly take great offence of it is only permissible to be well connected of you are Scottish ala Blair.

Hitchens missed an opoortunity to make some good points by obsessing about Cameron. Class is a growing problem in education and opportunity. The working class intellectual is now almost gone as the recieved cultural cannon has been broken up by the Liberals to enforce seperation .
The criticisms
1 He was not always obsessd with Politics -Good
2 He was a Thatcher supporter - Good
3 He understands image - Thank god for that
4 he is a Toff...HOLD THE FRONT PAGE !

He was not an insider. The Party turned to him in desperation and he is doing a magnificent job. I am concerned that he is surrounding himslef with others like him and this is why Nic Boles is such poor choice for the High profile Mayoral candidacy.

Stop Nic Boles

i spy strangers said...

I found the programme disappointing because it didn't reveal much that us anoraks didn't already know. Hitchens's main point wasn't so much DC's 'toffness', but rather that a metropolitan liberal elite now dominates both main parties and that, as a consequence, the electorate is denied any meaningful political choice.

Hitchens probably does speak for a sizeable conservative minority who feel that they have, in effect, been disenfranchised. However, he seemed to tacitly admit that (as Cameron's team have realised) the political mood of the country has changed over recent years. Neither he nor I might like it, but I fear we're stuck with it.

Pedant said...

I didn't realise anybody watched television any more. Why do they?

dynamite said...

I'd echo Mitch, the main charge clearly wasn't that "toff factor", it was that David Cameron is a rather vacuous character, pursuing power for it's own sake and forging an image obsessed Conservative Party which is aesthetically and politically virtually indistinguishable from the Labour Party. Did you miss that bit?

i spy strangers said...

P.S. I agree with 'colin d' (11:56) - Michael Gove was dreadful as Cameron's chief apologist.

Colin said...

My beef with cameron doesn't focus on social class or who he went to school with. It's simply this: I'd like to see a Tory leader (and party, coem to that) who / which believes in core Tory principles and is prepared to stick to them. Core principles like freedom, self-determination (from entities like the EU),low taxes, individual responsibility (and personal morality), financial stability ('sound money' instead of stealth taxes and crazy PFI schemes) and encouragement for free enterprise instead of the 'public sector', less government (and govt interfering less in the lives of its citizens, and itself costing a whole lot less - fewer MPs, civil servants and others on the public payrool). In short, I'd like to see a leader and party that knows what their principles are and tries to persuade the elctorate that those are the right principles to have - rather than a leader and party who practise 'band-wagon politics' which is just the opposite - find out what the electorate wants and devise policies to give it to them. the 'consumerist' approach to politics is wrong, muddle-headed and short-termist - look at the mess the current government, elected on precisely those terms, has got itself into.

My beef therefore with 'Dave' is not that he's not a good chap; but rather that he is not a person who so far has demonstrated real, deeply held Tory convictions - and thus cannot convy those principles to the party or to the electorate. He has also shown a worrying attraction to passing bandwagons - such as the climate change discussion and a lot of distracting waffle about restricting flying - which is shallow and a side-show to the main event.Sorry if this ruffles feathers, but until we get back to core principles and convince the electorate of the rectitude of those principles, we are on a hiding to nothing. Looks like I'll have to whistle for it on current showing!

Anonymous said...

Oh come on! There's nothing Cameron has said or done since his 2005 Party Conference pitch that hasn't been crafted. Wouldn't it be more honest if they made Steve Hilton Tory leader - he's drafting all the lines?

The electorate is too cynical of politicians' warm words not to see through Cameron's charm offensive. If the Tories get in next time it will only be because - to the limited numbers that will vote - Cameron represents the least worst lying lyer.

AussieGooner79 said...

Well said Judith!

Anonymous said...

Apart from the Tof stuff, Hitchens made some good points. Number one point being, that the Tories have accepted the left/liberal consensus, that the Tories have abandoned all hope of ever halting or reversing that consensus.Number two point being, having accepted the left/liberal consensus, they are now its most enthusiastic supporters, the Tories will now promulgate it, with unparalled zeal.

Newmania said...

Its interesting I think what we are demanding of Cameron . He is succeeding in a debased world where thanks to the NewLabour demolition of the country and its institutions class stratification and superficial media politcs are the stream in which you must swim.
He can only be trite and specious . the question is what will he do with the power the Party wins him

You might say he need to take the centre and move it right.I think that is his intention but we will be most fortunate to have aleader able to market his way to power in order to re-establish proper politics.

I suspoect the war whothin the Pary after the election will be as important as it was in the Labour Party. I also think the electorate are aware of this and discount accordingly

Hayek's Grandad said...

I think it was glaringly obvious that this was just a rant by an old man. I think Michael did rather well though, came across very well in defending DC.

On the plus side it was so obviously one sided that even my wife (who hates politics and politicians) felt sorry for DC and thinks she might now vote for him next time!

griswold said...

How on earth did Michael Gove become an MP. Pathetic, gutless,weak apart from being an inappropriate particant as defender of Cameron. Program tells you more about Hitchens than it does Cameron.

Anonymous said...

"So what if Cameron went to Eton - Blair went to Fettes, then Oxford."

Judith, I think you make the point well - this was intended to connect Cameron with the 'Blairite' spin and lack of substance which Cameron tries to get away from.

If Peter Hitchens can smear him as being 'Blair Mark 2' then he would consider this a good night's work.

Anonymous said...

Personally I wasn't aware until I read Iain's blog this morning [not having seen the programme] that there were 13 Old Etonians on the front bench. I think this is significant, and as a working-class warrior feel it doesn't indicate the Tory party has changed nearly as much as it likes to make out.

So although I didn't see the programme, maybe it did have some value if points such as these were brought out into the open for debate.

The Hitch said...

I kicked myself when I realised that I had missed the great man, it suprised me that he should have drawn attention to Camerons class , so what if he is a toff?
I predict the lowest ever turn out at the next election and a narrow labour win, followed by economic collapse , war and pestilance.
This is why I am stocking up on ammunition dried foods water filters and gold.

Anonymous said...

Iain,

How are you able to watch it now? Do you know where, those who missed it, could see it?

Any help gratefully recieved..

Chuck Unsworth said...

Definition of 'Toff' anyone?

Luis said...

I thought the programme was interesting. True it was a Hitchens polemic rather than an impartial documentary but it never pretended to be anything other than that.

True also, as has been said, it said much that anoraks would already know.

Nonetheless it was well constructed. I was less worried about the Party being run by toffs but more by the blantant cliquery of the Cameroons (rather than specifically Cameron). I am sure that bodes ill for the future although probably not until we are in government.

I also have to agree with other contributors that the one who came out worst was not Cameron but Gove. He came across as a 12 year-old school prefect responding to some cheeky questions from a rather rebellious but intelligent fellow pupil- albeit also 12 years old !

WandsworthTory said...

"Bogus and opportunistic" I couldn't have agreed more with Hitchens.

The party has obviously reached a point of desperation by electing a leader who is so far from our own values, because we imagine that he is popular. That is why I think the 'Eton toff' jibes are so important, however unfair, they go to the heart of why Cameron will never be seen as the ordinary guy 'just like me'. He isn't, he's bad at faking it, and his attempt to do that demeans us all.

However, as Cameron is learning the dark art of media manipulation with Steve 'Mandelson-Campbell' Hilton from Blair, as well as the clear preference for making policy in a small secretive cabal, we as a party should learn from the Blair experience.

Labour only elected Blair in a Faustian pact to end their long years of opposition, and most have been ruing the day ever since.

If we allow Cameron to drag the party to the centre, and then try and go left of Labour on the environment and NHS, I believe we are destroying British conservatism for the sake of a short-term poll bounce.

Power must not be the end in itself, we must be a strong party of the centre-right. I am probably less socially conservative than Hitchens, but I do believe that if we are weak on tax and public spending then Brown will have won the argument for a generation, and no matter what he did in his recent budget, we will be tied to sustaining massive spending commitments on a hugely wasteful, demoralising and destructive state machine.

Public support is turning against Labour, but I don't think that is because of Cameron, it's because of Blair. Let's not make the same mistake as the Labour Party and sell our principles for PR.

I am the same generation as Cameron and Osborne, I am not stuck to a bygone era, I am committed to strong, pragmatic Conservative government to deal with the world in 2007 and 2057. Cameron's vision lasts until the next headline, tomorrow's chip-paper.

ramalamadingdong said...

Hitchens' points were either irrelevant or just playing to people's prejudices. Instead of presenting him as an opportunist Hitchens did rather a good job of showing how Cameron is successfully repositioning the Tory party to increase its appeal - whether you like that repositioning or not is another matter - as reflected in recent polls.

[...and as for George Monbiot being miffed at his less than enthusiastic conference reception, 1) maybe no-one was buying what he was selling, or 2) maybe he is a crap speaker, or 3) both.]

Guido 2.0 said...

'Polemicist'... isn't that one of those tricky words you normally only learn about in grown-up books?

"And returning to the nihilism word again, if we must, they ain't the sort of political books I ever read. Ever. Political philosophy and theory bores me rigid and always has. I have never read a philosophical book in my life. Not something I am necessarily proud of, but there you go." - Iain Dale

dr random said...

Iain, this was the same class of programme as the Global Warming Swindle.

If you think this one was inaccurate, misleading, and verging on the ridiculous, how come you think the other was any less so, just because in that case you want to agree with it?

Anyway, I don't really care whether anyone is a 'toff' or not, just what their policies are and whether they could do any better than the current shower. It is perhaps unwise to have so many Etonians though, as their in-bred feeling of superiority isn't usually borne out in practice.

Other Ed said...

Iain, your remark about Hitchens' take on British Society being stuck in 1965 reminded me of a remark Cameron made shortly after he was elected leader.

I forget the exact wording, but it was something like: "Simon Heffer isn't part of what's wrong with the Conservative Party. Simon Heffer IS what's wrong with the Conservative Party."

Every time I read the nonsensical rants of people like Hitchens and Heffer, it reminds me of just how well Cameron is doing.

PS - I'm still not entirely convinced Simon Heffer isn't an invention of Craig Brown ...

Dictionary corner said...

Chuck Unsworth...

Toff (n)
a stylishly dressed, fashionable person, especially one who is a member of the upper class.

Not a lot of substance...

Laurence Boyce said...

Yesterday’s documentary was really all about Peter Hitchens, not Cameron. Some glaring omissions were the difference that Cameron’s disabled child has made to his outlook, and also his religious beliefs. By the way, I just want to say that Ede & Ravenscroft is an excellent tailor. In fact I’m just off there now!

BOF2BS said...

Peter Hitchens is BONKERS.

Objectively I thought he was a wholly inappropriate interviewer who can't even hold up an umbrella without looking ridiculous!

Subjectively I suppose it served some peoples purposes but was incredibly lightweight trivial and not particularily well produced.

Frank Field shone which may give non viewers at least an imndication of its mediocrity.

DanG said...

I was not able to watch the program on Cameron but I have enjoyed reading this thread. Personally I admire Peter Hitchens and am pleased that on the whole he has not been attacked on this blog. Just because he tells the truth about someone does not make him a smearer.

I would aspire to live my life the way Peter appears to live his but I'm afraid that though the spirit be willing the flesh is weak!

However I have to say that if David Cameron is the man who can rid this country of the present shower of excrement who rule us I will vote for him. Useless Tory or otherwise.

Xerxes said...

Laughed my Labour ass off.

Brilliant. Give the man a series.

Exactly the kind of drip-drip we need to undermine Cameron, and entirely done by right wing commentators, and the truly apalling performance of Michael Gove.

Cameron and his twelve Etonian disciples. Ripping, what?!

Lagwolf said...

I thought the fact they left out Cameron's child showed the class of the program.

It clearly demonstrated that his child should not be a matter of political debate whether for his critics or the man himself.

Maybe Hitch should do a follow-up show on the power behind the throne?

allan said...

Laurence, you're annoyed they didn't mention his disabled child, or the fact that he clearly doesn't really have any religious convictions?

Andy D said...

I watched the Simpsons instead.

I couldn't give a toss about wether Cameron is is toff or not.

What I do care about is wether the consveratives get elected in the next election, and, for the first time in 15 years, they are.

Gavin Ayling said...

I hate to be cynical but as a beneficiary of the socialist/privilege A-list, do you not have a conflict of interests?

I hope you really believe that Cameron believes in some fundamental ideals, but as a liberal Conservative I have to side with Hitchens on the whole question of whether Cameron is a leader or, like Blair, a reactor.

verity said...

"Hitchens missed an opportunity to make some good points by obsessing about Cameron." Newmania, the programme was about Cameron. That was the entire point.

I didn't know he had stuffed the Shadow Cabinet with 13 other OEs! No wonder he is not connecting with Tory voters!

Dynamite - I agree. Cameron's vacuous. Vacuous and very pleased with himself. You can see it in his silly, smug face.

Anonymous 12:50 - Way to watch the programme: Yes, I contacted Channel Four and it is archived. They have good live technical help by messenger. You can watch it on their site, free. The only thing is, you need Windows XP. One more reason to finally take the plunge.

I think Peter Hitchens is brilliant and I loathe phony Dave. Yes, perhaps the Tories will get in next time, but so what? To pursue the socialists' Orwellian agenda, but with different faces. Anyone who believes that "A" lists and positive discrimination are the best ways to select MPs to represent the population of these islands is a posturing, ignorant prat. He can't connect with normal middle class people because he's never met one. May his windmill fall off his roof onto his big fat head.

gammarama.co.uk said...

Its clear from reading the comments that many people do not care that Cameron IS a toff, but he seems ashamed to admit it? He tries to create a 'normal bloke' image of himself, that is where the problem lies.

The programme was what i expected, and those that already disliked Cameron would have agreed with much of the programme. For me, the problem still remains that the tories are changing their views just to get back into power. That is a problem. I think there are very few in the tories that truly believe in what line Cameron is taking, and that is problematic. As soon as he is in power, things will be watered down and changed.

Some OE's will be sacrificed before the next election with the promise of jobs when back in power. What amuses me is when the tories talk of cronyism, they are the ones that are at it the most.

If you want to watch the programme again you can do so via channel four on demand, google it.

machiavelli said...

I thought Hitchens sounded like a prat. No change there, then...

i spy strangers said...

I'm glad 'the hitch' has commented on this thread (12:49). I couldn't help thinking that last night's programme would have been much more entertaining if it had been written by Peter Hitchens's more illustrious (and more acerbic) namesake. Definitely post-watershed though!

How about it, 18 Doughty Street??

Iain Dale said...

Just to be clear, there are NOT 13 Old Etonians in the Shadow Cabinet - there are 13 among the front bench of about 70 Shadow Ministers. Of course Hitchens didn't make that clear and indulged in his own bit of spin.

hatfield girl said...

Judith said

'I'm a right-winger who would love to see flat, low taxes, withdrawal of 85% of state management/interference, withdrawal from EU ...'

What's right wing about that?

The state could provide decent universal services with high threshold flat or flattish taxes to help the less well off and a requirement for the rest of us to insure ourselves against commonplace risk.

Then a large percentage of inappropriate state activity could be withdrawn.

The UK needs to review its relationship with an institutionally ill- fitting European Union.

The Brownite faction of the Labour party is statist to the point of neofascism; that's what can be justifiably called right-wing.

Though Judith doesn't expand on "etc.', she's speaking plain commonsense .

Richard Baxter said...

I suspect everyone has changed their minds on several political issues over the last ten years. I know I have. That's politics.

Yes, people change their minds over time, but they don't generally make complete U-turns overnight, as Cameron appears to have done. The thrust of Hitchens's argument was not that Cameron had abandoned his "basic core principles", but that he did not have any in the first place. As for "moving on with the country" - I wasn't aware that we had "moved on" to being a nation of sopping wet liberal hoodie-huggers and tree-huggers!

In seeking a Blairite revolution, what the Tories fail to realise is that the pre-1997 Labour Party and the post-1997 Tory Party failed to win elections for entirely different reasons. As Hitchens has written elsewhere, when voters shunned the Tories at the last few elections it was because of the party, not because of the policies. Opinion polls have shown that traditional Tory policies are extremely popular with the general public, especially on issues such as crime and immigration. Unfortunately the Cameroons have fallen for the "dog-whistle" myth, and have decided to ditch most of their policies, which were pretty much the only thing the Tories had going for them!

Xerxes said...

Thanks for clearing that up, Iain.

So, how many Old Etonians are there in the Shadow Cabinet?

davkeh said...

Mitch and dynamite the program was called Toff at the top not opportunist or leftist at the top.

Hitchens a tedious amount of time on the Bullingdon and the cost of their outfits. He attacked Cameron for being vaguely connected to the royal family and for admiring Thatcher - allegedly referring to her as "Mommy".

So am I to believe that to be privately educated and an admirer of Thatcher are disqualifications for leadership of the Conservative party?

This programme was tedious and avoided looking at the nature of political truth, the influence of the political media and the nature of what it means to be a conservative today.

I disagree with Iain that it was well put together as a good editor could have gotten Hitchens attack to a much punchier 30 minutes.

Instead it was a vacuous and repetitively tedious polemic that I strongly suspect would not have been commissioned if it were to be in praise of Cameron or an attack on a labour politician.

If Doughty Street is politics for adults this was politics for the playground.

Anonymous said...

So, which of the sinister party candidates do you want to be PM after the next election then, Hitch, Gordon Stalin or Milli Moll'o'Mandy?

Andy D said...

'For me, the problem still remains that the tories are changing their views just to get back into power.'

One persons 'changing of views' is anothers 'reflecting the society and listening to the needs of the voters'

One of the first rules of polictics is, you can't do anything without power. Now I'm not saying that abandoning principles is right, but the image of the Tory party simply wasn't electable. Now it is. Cameron needs to back up that image at the next election and provide policies which people which haven't voted tory for 15years will want to vote for, otherwise the party will forever be stuck at the 30% mark and in opposition

David Anthony said...

Just to be clear, there are NOT 13 Old Etonians in the Shadow Cabinet - there are 13 among the front bench of about 70 Shadow Ministers

That's still 20%

mitch said...

davkeh - strange as it may seem, the title was not the program.

The toff charge was made BUT it wasn't the main one. Hitchens spent time on the Bullingdon because it's a ridiculous society of drunken young men who don't know any better. Personally I think this is relevant to Cameron's judgement.

His royal connections are also relevant because a former employer alleged they were used to further his career.

All of Hitchen's points were raised to question the ability of Cameron to be P.M. Personally I thought he made a good argument.

I don't know what "the nature of political truth" is and neither do you.

Anonymous said...

According to the Grauniad
Out of 130 office holders sitting on the Tory frontbench are 15 Old Etonians - from a school that, more than any other, symbolises extreme privilege as well as academic excellence. Of these most went on to Oxbridge and many now drink in the same male-only private members clubs in central London.

And the Eton influence is not restricted to the junior positions. Three of the 24 members of the shadow cabinet - including Cameron - went to the £23,000-a-year school, as did the higher education spokesman, Boris Johnson.


Doesn't look that many to me

Neil Craig said...

Hitchens a one time Trot can hardly complain about people changing their minds but somebody did make a good point about their being no history of his conversion from Thatcherism being accopmanied by any public questioning, as did happen among some NuLabour types (not Blair). In any case the Tories because of, not despote, his flexibility.

My complaint is that I believe he & the Tories have not really thought through their positions & mistaken media opinion for public opinion - thus their silence on the EU & noise on global warming & that I think the public will be proved more accurate than the media on these.

Hitchens final point about the problem for democracy when we have 3 parties but all with one policy on these matters & policies which may seriously differ from the popular will was a good one.

verity said...

Davkay writes: "and for admiring Thatcher - allegedly referring to her as "Mommy"."

Are you sure?

Posh people employ an Americanism for "Mummy"? Blimey! What's Dave's wife's name, Jolene?

You write: "a good editor could have gotten Hitchens attack to a much punchier 30 minutes." First, a good editor would have put an apostrophe after the word Hitchens.

Second, perhaps the programme wasn't intended to be a punchy attack? Perhaps it was intended to be a thoughtful investigation from a particular point of view?

About your post, Mitch commented: "I don't know what "the nature of political truth" is and neither do you." Quite.

The Hitch said...

Iain Dale said...
Just to be clear, there are NOT 13 Old Etonians in the Shadow Cabinet - there are 13 among the front bench of about 70 Shadow Ministers.
Oh that ok then , a perfect cross section of society.
Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiilarious that you even try and defend it, if 13 of them had been to the stoke newington metal working academy it would look a little fishy would it not?

simonunwin said...

I think Hitchens point was not that Cameron had changed his mind over time, it was that he has never held any belief, and has too easily switched his positions at every step for political expediency, as the shameful comparison between his Stafford and Witney literature showed.

This isn't a man who has grown and learnt, he just goes where his PR team put him.

The suggestion that he was barely involved in the 2005 manifesto is a shameful lie.

If I were to rely on the old prejudices, Eton and Oxford are expected to create men of honour and standing. Cameron has no backbone, no 'bottom' as Francis Urquhart might have put it. 'If you had a dog like that, you'd shoot it.'

Cameron displays weakness at every turn, his over-reliance on the media and 'image', his constant attempts to run away from his own background, and the party background. He goes weak at the knees for applause, and as we know with Blair that turns to bitter resentment when political fates change. He is weak on crime, weak on the economy, and I also consider it a personal weakness that he has taken drugs. When I last checked, that was still a crime.

I hate what he is doing to the party, and I agree with the presenter that EVERY Briton is being failed, left, right or centre, by this convergence, which is not about the parties agreeing on political principle, but compromising themselves to grab the apathetic majority who sit in the middle of the polls.

I remember being a proud Conservative, but I can only be ashamed of what Cameron is doing.

David Lindsay said...

A hugely important programme.

Cameron has few uses, but at least his existence draws attention to the overclass, which emerged, in the 1980s and 1990s, as a result of the same processes as produced the underclass, and which is at least as cut off from life as it is normally lived, but which is much less numerous, is concentrated almost exclusively in one corner of the country, and is much more pernicious economically, socially, culturally and politically.

Although related to the old aristocracy, its members have no social conscience, rather regarding their enormous wealth as "merit", and as entitling them to behave in absolutely any way they see fit, not least with regard to drugs. (Cameron has now pulled off the same evil trick twice, first defining "a normal university experience" as necessarily including illegal drug use, and now doing the same thing with secondary schooling. What next? And when is someone going to take him on?)

Between 1688 at the latest and 1914 at the earliest, the political life of the United Kingdom and of her predecessors was defined by the struggle between the expanding middle and the top. There might have been dire consequences for the emerging working class, but the process eventually delivered it the means of redress. Yet the middle class has now been conned into believing, both that its own interests are identical to those of Cameron (demanding that Blair condemn calls for curbs on City bonuses) or of George Osborne (rushing to defend private equity funds), and that the skilled working class (so comparable in income, concerns, and often even tastes these days) is indistinguishable from the characters on 'Shameless'. The actual median wage for full-time work is around £23,000: that is the real middle.

Thank God that Cameron has not seen the last of that Bullingdon Club photograph, and therefore cannot carry on selling himself, Blair-like, as just an ordinary (if vaguely upper-middle-class) husband and father in early middle age. No, he isn't.

That Club is an organisation which exists specifically in order to commit criminal damage and other offences, even including assault, just so that its members can prove their ability to pick up the bill.

Imagine if a group of youths the same age, but who got up at six o'clock in the morning to pay for universities, were to organise themselves into a club (complete with a membership list, officers, some sort of uniform, the works) for the express purpose of smashing up pubs. They would rightly be prosecuted as a criminal conspiracy, and could reasonably expect to be imprisoned.

Well, living in rural England, as I have done most of my life and which is a very different matter from merely owning great swathes of it while living in Knightsbridge or Notting Hill, I suspect that the publicans of Oxfordshire are not without connections in the local constabulary and magistracy.

How would it look for Cameron if the Bully Boys were to be locked up for just long enough to have themselves sent down? Or how would it look for the University of Oxford if they were not sent down under such circumstances?

Oh, and in light of recent events, how many black members has the Bullingdon Club ever had? Has it ever even had one?

But, alas, this film did not feature the strange matter of the Tory Leadership Election. There are only 450 active Conservative Associations, and half of those admit publicly to having fewer than 100 members each. Yet more than a quarter of a million people could be found to vote in the Leadership Election, and - would you believe it? - more than two thirds of them voted for a BBC-endorsed, ultraliberal, warmongering toff and Blair clone.

So, who were these people, and where had they been for the previous 10 years? For that matter, where are they now? The failure to ask these questions was the only fault in an otherwise magnificent documentary.

Meanwhile, yet more rumours of impending high-level Blairite defections to the Cameroon Party once Brown takes over. Well, best place for them, and that includes Brown.

But, like the new-found craven deference of the BBC, and like the talk of alliance or even merger with the Lib Dems, what do Tories think that their party’s attractiveness to such people says about what that party has become?

Laurence Boyce said...

“Laurence, you’re annoyed they didn’t mention his disabled child, or the fact that he clearly doesn’t really have any religious convictions?”

No, I wasn’t annoyed about any of last night’s show. But I would have thought that any serious analysis of Cameron would have mentioned his disabled child and the effect that this has had on the man. It goes without saying that the matter should have been raised with the utmost tact and respect.

Ditto Cameron’s religious beliefs. He has said on a number of occasions that he believes in God, but that he doesn’t have a “direct line,” which after Blair/Bush/Iraq must come as a huge relief to everyone. But I think we perhaps could expand on this a little.

Of course, still more embarrassing is the religious standpoint of Peter Hitchens himself, who doesn’t accept Darwinian evolution, or so I’ve been told.

Roger Thornhill said...

I detected rather too much focus on him being a toff. I'm from State eductation but I'd love to have gad about bellowing "DAMN YOUR EYES!" in my youth.

What was interesting to me is Cameron appears to be infected with the same 'disease' that is rampant in NewLabour/NeueArbeit, i.e. they just want to "win" regardless. Policy, conviction, ideals etc are purely secondary and expendable.

boom and busted said...

What's Peter Hitchen's game?

What is he playing at?

Every week in the Mail on Sunday he tries to undermine the Tories electoral prospects and now makes a film attacking Cameron.

Does Hitchens want New Labour (probably under Stalinesque Brown) to win the next election. Does Hitchens want 5 more years of that?

I suspect that maybe he does because that's what would happen if enough Conservative voters took notice of his rantings.

Perhaps Hitchens should stop referring himself as right-wing? Perhaps his trot tendencies never went away? Perhaps he's trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

He constantly refers to "a new patriotic British party" arising from somewhere to save us from the crime-ridden multi-culti hellhole that 10 years of New Labour have created, but he never indicates where such a party is going to arise from. I'm very suspicious of Hitchens and the game he's playing.

As for Micheal Gove, I couldn't agree more with some other posters. Gove comes across as a chinless, petulant overgrown schoolboy and is a dismal advert for the Tory Party. The fact that he slavishly follows the neocon line makes him even less endearing.
Get rid of him from the front bench Cameron.

Xerxes said...

On a side note, is it true, as has been hilariously posted elsewhere, that the Conservatives have selected more people named 'Mark' than they have women, despite the shiny new candidate selection policy?

Hopefully Mark Thatcher is included there.

verity said...

The Hitch - V good!!

I agree with you, Simon Unwin.

It bothers me that Dave took drugs at university, and that he can't bring himself to deny that he uses them now. There is so much about this man that bothers me. He is slippery. He says he believes in God - although he doesn't "have a direct line", yet he thinks he can legislate for the Roman Catholic Church.

It bothers me that he has swalled this 'green' philosophy, which is so obviously leftist garbage, so wholeheartedly. It bothers me that he has chucked out conservative principles and is defending his place in the "middle", which is actually the left.

Other than walking around and smiling in a good natured, patricianly manner, he doesn't seem to have any connection at all with normal middle class people. And he's got 13 OEs on the front benches????? Thirteen people drawn from a such a tiny pool with such closely shared values and background. Not much room, then, for the middle classes in Dave's programme.

I do not trust this slippery fellow, any more than I trust Anthony Blair, Esq, and I can't condemn him harder than that. He's sneaky, self-regarding and loathesome.

Johnny Norfolk said...

This is what the old guard wanted. They hated Thather as she was not seen as one of them. David Davies would not be seen as one of them.
Its a great pity as the Tory party is weaker for not having self made people at the top.

Carl Eve said...

WindTURBINE - not "windmill".

And how having a wind turbine, but turning down a windfarm be compatible. You either stand by your principles or you don't.

(but then perhaps cycling to work with your manservant carrying your shoes and paperwork in a Merc is the norm in your neck of the woods Iain)

I'm truly trying to understand how you think the two are not incompatible. Explain to this dolt please.

Otherwise I will expect the next Greenpeace AGM will serve Dolphin Burgers while they sit on Rainforest teak chairs.

verity said...

Johnny Norfolk - Damn' straight! And good point about Thatcher. She upsurped the top position and she was "just" a shopkeeper's daughter. How dare she!

Well, they've got one of their own back in, but time have changed, which is their new mantra to explain why they are a mirror-image of the socialists. David Davis would have spoken for all the disaffected Tory voters out there. We Conservatives like robust people. Not effete little self-regarding druggies.

Chris Paul said...

Iain:

The basic attack on Cameron centred around his alleged 'toffness' and that there are 13 Old Etonians on the Tory front bench. He was also attacked for having changed his mind on some issues and his change of language. Big deal. I suspect everyone has changed their minds on several political issues over the last ten years. I know I have. That's politics.

CP's LOL:

Trouble is DC has changed lots of his policies in last 18 months - or perhaps he has started saying what key voters want to hear from him as Bambi 2 instead of what he really thinks and had been saying for 20 years. And acting out by trashing restaurants and being contemptuous (allegedly) of business owners and workers interests because he could afford to write a cheque or splash some cash at the end of his riot.

And he is a TOFF. And there are lots of other TOFFS in his clique. they cannot sensibly be expected to represent anyone but other TOFFS and fellow travellers. And goodness knows Brown and Blair have been doing too much of that for some folks' liking as it is.

My copy of the tape is still waiting to be triggered off. I am anticipating enjoying it and als finding out some angles. But as you say Iain I am not expecting to get a balanced account. Who would.

But where is this cri de coeur for fairness and balance when any of your political opponents are being monstered either by a polemicist or a satirist or a dramatist?

If this really isn't good enough for DC it surely really isn't good enough for others?

Michael said...

Hitchens' response can be found

Chris Paul said...

Has someone rigged your blog Iain so that clicking on certain pages loads PH's MoS column on this issue?????

Gove btw is becoming a monster. He's sooooo RUDE. Like one of Guido's groupees.

He was in the Sun or somewhere for a spat with the polite and reasonable Yvette Cooper and he also continually interrupted and harrassed Polly T.

Is he an utterly contemptible misogynist? Or does he just know exactly which buttons to press to get people going?

Contemptible in any case! Keep sticking him up and the election will be lost. He's another TOFF though a liter version than DC.

DD or even KC would have been much harder to beat in a real election as opposed to an iffy poll with iffy questions.

Chris Paul said...

It's michael's link on his time stamp that was doing it. Good trick. How does it work?

Chris Paul said...

Iain: Which poxy schools are the other 53 from? And is it not the case that most of the 13 are nearer to the peacock throne than not?

Chris Paul said...

Er sorry. Not 53 it's 57 Heinz varieties of mainly canopy feeding public schoolboys. Harrow and Westminster not bad. St Pauls? Mmmm. Perhaps one or two left footers from Ampleforth? Shrewsbury, never mind dear boy. Marlborough, not what it was. Stowe, didn't that Monbiot trot go there? Blah blah de blah. Taking a leaf out of the ID new maths book anyway. Sorry.

Chris Paul said...

Five on the trot. think there are gremlins as well as fast little fingers at work ID.

verity said...

Chris Paul: "And is it not the case that most of the 13 are nearer to the peacock throne than not?"

They're Iranians?

Laurence Boyce said...

Michael Gove gives me the impression that his entire lifetime ambition is to become an establishment bore, which for someone not yet forty is a little sad.

Anonymous said...

Surely most of our fears about DC are based on a 'burnt child' experience of Blair: we definitely don't want a Tone II.

Blair's childish craving to be liked by the rich, famous and powerful seemed harmless enough in 1997 - but it made him tolerate corruption at the heart of government and take Britain into an unnecessary war just to be 'bestest friends'.

With Cameron, the flaws we can already glimpse are rather different. Because of his well-off background and powerful connections (e.g. the Astors, and his various sponsors in Parliament, who include American casino interests) he already has a business and Old Boy network that can make him independently wealthy. Tax and state funding are not issues for him - he can afford to pay whatever happens. His 'toy green policies' such as taxing flights for the holidaying masses, and the glaring absence of coherent social policies on welfare and the role of the state suggest that he is a bit too keen on the status quo for comfort, and too anxious to be seen as 'nice'. It might get him elected, but then what?

There is one tiny sign of a fatal flaw: when Cameron says (he said it himself, freely, in a speech) that his child's disability made him appreciate the NHS, does he mean he could not envisage his child being treated properly except by a state-funded system (=parochial lunacy) or that he appreciated his medical bills being paid by others (= damned cheek) or that he cannot tell the difference between the standard of advanced medical treatment and the financial system by which it is funded (which suggests he should get out more) or was he just playing to the vote of the immense, massive unionised workforce of the NHS (=craven subservience, and pretty useless too, as they won't vote for him anyway)?
I'd be more impressed - even if I supported the NHS as an administrative funding system, which I do not - if he had said that he supported the NHS system REGARDLESS of accidental personal circumstances, not BECAUSE of them. And it's old hat (for Brown did this maudlin 'how much I personally appreciate the NHS' stuff to death years ago).
Does this mean, if DC becomes PM and his missis is nearly run over by a bus, or one of relations threatened by a gun, that bus-drivers will be given advanced driving lessons, and the police given a 300% raise?

We need a reformer, not another Tory wet wanting to be loved as a man of the people.

Laurence Boyce said...

That was a nice analysis Anonymous. I think only Iain Dale can save the Tories now – desperate measures and all that!

verity said...

I would far rather see Iain, who is a more genuine and engaging personality, leading the Tory party than Cameron. Also, Iain has achievements stacked up. Cameron has zero achievements. What has he ever done?

If Iain were leading the Tories, I would return.

Neil Craig said...

Before knocking Cameron too hard lets remember that "Tony Blair #2" did not come as a surprise - that is exactly what the Tories voted for. That being the case he is entitled to support. Equally if he is flexible in his beliefs this means he can flex back. The Tory backbench's role is primarily just to dissuade him nailing down his new positions specificly - indeed he has been pretty good at being touchy feely without specifics. The real debate is not going to be over Cameron personally but over the results of the policy review. His job will be to sell policies which, after the review, will hopefully represent the views of those doing the reviews, many of whom are really quite heavyweight.

I think Cameron has to be dissuaded from relying on things which may well, by the time of the next election, turn out to be wrong - catastrophic warming & the ability to do without nuclear power. If this means annoying Zac & Porritt - what a shame, never mind. I also that as Ireland continues to grow faster than us they will be an ever more obvious example of the success of what should be Tory free marketism.

It is a difficult balancing act - to support your elected leader while worried about his policies. I think Cameron could also do with making a few very public remarks to prepare the public for the fact that they can't alwats have the cuddly option. People know they can't & would appreciate the honesty of being told that now, not just before an election.

morrocanroll said...

Mmm. Came from the bottom rung myself and now have Old Etonian brother-in-law. In fact, all relatives and friends via marriage are public-school educated.

Know the Labour lot well, 'cos I went throught the Poly system and have had a lot of dealings with the 'professional' middle classes.

It's like this. The Old Etonians and their fellow travellers are an all round better bet than control-obsessed New Labour lot.

The toffs are, in reality, more relaxed, more easy going and far, far less likely to want to track, tax and fine you at every turn.

That's in stark contrast to the Labour looney decade. They, by contrast, must have their way and are ruthless in their execution.

It does not matter to us lot (and I'm nowhere near being a top-rate tax payer) that the new Tories are 'toffs' because life has the potential to be a lot more civil and relaxed under Cameron.

Unless, of course, you think that Nu Lab is ultimately a better bet because fewer of them had a private education...

Peter Bancroft said...

[i]Hitchens harks after a moalistic, socially conservative country which Britain ceased to be in about 1965[/i]

Ah, that would have been about the time that Peter Hitchens was an undergraduate at the University of York and, unlike Cameron, already involved in politics - as the head of the Socialist Worker Student Society.

boom and busted said...

morrocanroll, I come from a similiar background to you, in fact was once in the SWP then Labour party so had plenty of contact with lefties having been one myself. You are dead right in your analysis.

Cameron and co are relatively normal, Brown and co are control-freak would-be despots. Take your pick.

Seems though that there's a few on here who reckon themselves to be Conservatives but would prefer 5 more years of a New Labour Govt after the next GE.

Peter Hitchens isn't alone then.

no longer anonymous said...

Hitchens makes some good points although I don't have an issue with Cameron's class or his monging around with the Bullingdon Boys.

Cameron is a puppet, once the Tories are in we can give him the boot and make someone else leader.

Anonymous said...

It was not a bad programme, just highlighted a few facts. There is no way that I would vote conservative with Cameroon as leader, and I have always voted tory.

pick, lick, roll and .....eat said...

Anonymous said...
It was not a bad programme, just highlighted a few facts. There is no way that I would vote conservative with Cameroon as leader, and I have always voted tory.

Of course you have, soft lad, and Delhi is the capital of China.

Your leader still picks his nose and eats it on film, don't forget that.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid the Hitch beat me to it with Iain's hilarious; "Just to be clear, there are NOT 13 Old Etonians in the Shadow Cabinet - there are 13 among the front bench of about 70 Shadow Ministers." I couldn't agree more with the Hitch.
The mere fact that Iain and similarly minded commentators on conservativehome think that somehow makes it better reinforces the absurdity of the situation. And so in way Hitchens's point is proved.
That is why real tories should have no truck with dave and his mates, no matter where they went to school or which dining society they attended.

Londoner said...

I am glad that the "13 Shadow Cabinet" Old Etonians lie has been shot down. In fact I think there are 70 frontbenchers in the Commons and that about 8 or 9 of the (possibly) 15 OEs are Lords spokesmen. Shock horror: Etonians overrepresented amongst Tory peers!!

So of the 4 or 5 apart from Cameron in the Commons, who do we have? Of the 2 Shadow Cabinet Etonian MPs one is Letwin (no inherited wealth, born of Jewish American academic parents - classic Etonian NOT - also first appointed to the Shadow Cabinet before Cameron was even an MP). Of the 3 non-Shadow Cabinet spokesmen, one is dear Boris, clearly there by ability and/or force of personality and first appointed by grammar school boy Howard.

In contrast, the Heath Govt (grammar school PM) at one point really did have about 13 Old Etonians in his Cabinet. Mrs T had several, including Gilmour, Pym, Carrington, Howell and probably whoever was Leader of the House of Lords in her first Cabinet and, lest you should think there were all wets OE Nicholas Ridley of blessed memory much later on.

So if Cameron becomes PM it looks like he'll have the least OEs in a Conservative cabinet ever.

Eton breeds articulate, confident men, its parents have a bias towards political life, and it is about the largest public school in the country in terms of pupils per year. If it had less than 3 in a still predominantly male Tory Cabinet, one would probably have to conclude empirically that there was some bias operating against them. Which is no doubt what some posters on here would want.

verity said...

Thanks for that post, Londoner. It did sound a bit fantastical and I'm glad you cleared it up.

I have never met an OE I wasn't absolutely charmed by and do think they are, in the main, very quick witted and clear-thinking. It's Dave I can't stand.

Laurence Boyce said...

I don’t think that any of this “Tory toff” characterisation is a problem for the average voter at all. The fact is that any MP leads a radically different lifestyle from that of “ordinary people.” It’s just not a normal job – some might say it’s not even a proper job.

The Tories’ main problem is not the Camerons – it’s the Wintertons – ironically just the sort of old-fashioned conservative moralists of which Peter Hitchens would so approve.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see Londoner doing his best to defend Etonians of whom he appears to know so much. I am overwhelmed by his/her knowledge. Even the usually reliable Verity seems to be in a swoon. Give me strength.

Given Londoner appears to know so much, perhaps he can let us know the following:

1) Are Etonians compared to the population at large under or over-represented:
a) amongst the parliamentary Conservative Party
b) amongst Cameron's advisers
c) amongst prospective Conservative
parliamentary candidates
d) amongst Oxford and Cambridge undergraduates

2)Are members of the Bullingdon compared to the population at large under or over-represented:
a) amongst the parliamentary Conservative Party
b) amongst Cameron's advisers
c) amongst prospective Conservative
parliamentary candidates

Perhaps if Londoner considered the above he might wish to apply the same measures to Harrow, Shrewsbury, Winchester and sundry other public schools. But in reality he need not bother. Because
the real issue here despite its tangential relevance is not Eton or Oxford or the Bullingdon but the extent to which the Tory leadership
is prepared to desert the interests and values of its traditional supporters in order that a small number of careerist hacks (public school Tory Toffs or otherwise) can get their hands on the steering wheel or at least into Parliament.

The Druid said...

Can't say I learnt anything new from the programme.

Personally I don't care that Cameron went to Eton any more than I cared that Major was a Brixton boy made good. Cameron had little or no choice where he went to school. What is more important is what he has done since. From the braying arses club, the Bullingdon, on he has made a series of very questionable judgments. As for changing his mind Iain. Well we all do that. But Cameron flip flops all over the place on pretty much everything. Not good.

Footnote: Very disappointed in Michael Gove. His recent book was excellent. But his performance on Dispatches was butt clenchingly awful. I have lost all respect for him.

verity said...

Anonymous 9:00 pm. Steady on! I said I, in common with the rest of the world, find OEs generally very charming people - although I don't necessarily want to be governed by a clique of them.

I also said I make an exception to my claim that they're charming in the case of David Cameron. I don't find him charming, intelligent or having had any experience which is relevant to his ambitions.

I agree with The Druid that he flops around on all issues. The term "a backbone of steel" would not apply to David Cameron. That he sacked Patrick Mercer on trumped up, imaginary politically correct charges - in other words a show trial - made me sick. I loathe the man.

Anonymous said...

Crikey ! Nearly a hundred comments !

Clearly Mr Hitchens has hit a bit of a nerve here, wot ?

But if the cap fits...

Anonymous said...

Woo-Hoo!!

Tory lead cut from 11% to 4% in a poll in the Independent.

Toff or not, Cameron hasn't a hope in hell.

verity said...

Anonymous 11:49 - One doesn't know how to read these polls, but I cannot believe that the Tories are only four points ahead of the socialists - even with David Cameron as Tory leader. People loathe Tony Blair, they never warmed to the gruesome Gordon Brown, they are aware that Margaret Beckett could never be first out of the starter gate even as dog catcher. The cabinet makes the Ship of Fools look viable. In fact, the cabinet makes Laurel and Hardy look viable, and they're dead.

And Blair is already screwing up the release of our people being held in Iraq. Despite having thoughtfully slapped some duct tape over Margaret Beckett's mouth,Tony's going to do badly here (although, God willing, he won't; I want to see our people brought home safely to their families).

So I cannot believe these figures.

Anonymous said...

Verity

All you say may be true but look at the alternative!!!

verity said...

Anonymous 12:28 - Yes. It's horrifying for the future of our country that the voters have no choice. This is shocking in a democracy and the fault is Dave's. He is not offering the electorate a choice. He has already fallen down in his duty.

Allotment Plotter said...

Having been to Ruskin College in the early eighties, and seen the sort of Etonistas which infest Oxford, I can honestly say that if we have returned to the Tory party of the 1950's, then my donations and support at the ballot box will stop, and I will attempt to wreck any Tory vote I hear of.

Andrew said...

Just think of it this way...

* Lady T allowed the working class to buy their homes.

* Cameron wants to take away their ability to go away on holiday or see their relatives abroad.

Andrew said...

Just think of it this way...

* Lady T allowed the working class to buy their homes.

* Cameron wants to take away their ability to go away on holiday or see their relatives abroad.

Anonymous said...

It's often necessary to change your mind, but you must know where your heart is. This isn't new - read Horace Walpole's diaries and you'll see he was often observing that A had a "good heart" and B had a "bad heart". I think Peter Hitchens is perfectly correct to question the underlying motivation of the current PM and any would-be successor.

Mr Blair reminds me of those CEOs who are parachuted in, manipulate a company for the benefit of their own share options, then cash in and leave without a backward glance at the destruction they have wrought. Indeed many of his (and my) generation have done the same in journalism, education and other sectors. I'd like to suggest that much of the left/liberal revolution since the 60s has been, in effect, an ego-trip, the intention being to do very well for oneself while apparently doing good for others. Of course, there is always the possibility of self-delusion as well as conscious deceit.

Hitchens' political migration is, I think, a good example of changing your mind while staying true to your heart, which is why he can connect with Frank Field, another who has not let political doctrine blind him to social reality. Forty years of middle-class trendiness has harmed the lower orders, who do not have middle-class resources to help them recover.

So it is really of vital importance to work out where Cameron's heart is. The country cannot easily afford another chancer. I don't think Hitchens' programme proved anything, but it certainly asked the right question.

Rolf Norfolk

Anonymous said...

An excellent exposition, Mr Norfolk.

Peter Hitchens said...

I'm most gratified to see the programme being discussed in this animated way. But could I just say a word in defence of Michael Gove, who is disparaged by several contributors to this thread? Michael generously and courageously agreed - when he didn't have to - to take on the defence brief. That is the kind of person he is. David Cameron himself, and large numbers of others, declined to take part in the programme at all. It is not Michael's fault that Mr Cameron's trajectory is so very hard to defend, and I'd like to see some of Michael's critics trying to do so. Surely the more interesting point is why David Cameron, a professional politician and formerly a professional PR man, is so reluctant to engage with a critic.

Laurence Boyce said...

“Surely the more interesting point is why David Cameron, a professional politician and formerly a professional PR man, is so reluctant to engage with a critic.”

I can’t answer for Cameron, but I would not have engaged with you Peter. For one thing, your public questioning of Darwinian evolution simply marks you out as a figure of fun. But thanks for a very entertaining hour!

Peter Hitchens said...

I must thank Mr Boyce for linking to this carefully-reasoned article on my blog. Though quite what it has to do with the subject under discussion, or with my defence of Michael Gove, only Mr Boyce can say.

Laurence Boyce said...

Well you may as well have stated that the Earth is flat – such is the extent of your error, though you do not realise it. And I’m afraid that Michael Gove is going to do nothing to lead the Tories out of the abyss. By the way, I see that Christopher had a good night yesterday. Were you there?

The Druid said...

I have no problem with Gove defending his boss. And no doubt he wants to get on. Fair enough. But what I do object to is the manner with which he dropped into the glib "line to take" on tax cuts. It won't wash. There is an ideological debate to be had here on tax cuts notwithstanding the leadership's desire to close it off.

As for Cameron himself. He may have worked in PR, but you'd be hard pressed to guess it. Jeff Randall summed up his role at Carlton - Cameron was just a bag carrier. Though a year old now JR's column on this is still a good read.

Kevin Peat (electro-kevin) said...

The point of Mr Hitchens' programme was to show that Mr Cameron is a fake.

Case proven.

Anonymous said...

What I find funny is that "he must be doing something right as he is ahead in the polls".

With the current bunch of showers in government, how else could it be ?

Londoner said...

Anon at 9pm on 27 March, having asked me various searching questions about the proportions of Old Etonians in the population at large compared with various parts of the Tory Party, then says:

"But in reality he need not bother. Because the real issue here despite its tangential relevance is not Eton or Oxford or the Bullingdon but the extent to which the Tory leadership
is prepared to desert the interests and values of its traditional supporters in order that a small number of careerist hacks (public school Tory Toffs or otherwise) can get their hands on the steering wheel or at least into Parliament."

I won't bother then. But what this Anon post shows is that all the stuff about Eton etc is just thrown in as scatter-gun fire when the true complaint has nothing to do with this, but is about an alleged desertion of the "interests and values of its traditional supporters". But certain people think that stirring up class envy by repeating false or misleading statistics about the Front Bench adds to this case. It doesn't. It undermines it, as was the credibility (even if not the entertainment value) of Hitchen's programme.

kevin peat said...

The reason why I found the 'Front Bench statistics' interesting, Londoner was that it revealed a public school nexus which I had been unaware of - had this been deliberately concealed ? Not that I have anything against public schools, quite the reverse - I note particularly the succession of grammar school educated leaders were present throughout our social decline and integration into the EU.


The importance of the Bullingdon Club was that Mr Cameron appeared to have no political interests (other than study) at that time.

Philipa said...

Laurence Boyce - no he wasn't there.

110 comments - yes but most seem to be from verity; yawn.

Kev - the public school nexus hasn't been concealed.

I thought PH had fun, he looked as if he did, while still getting a serious message across. For me that message was that DC would say anything to either gain power or stay in office.

kevin peat said...

Quite right, Philipa - all points except Verity (no opinion).
I ought to have used 'down-played'
rather than 'concealed'.

Sadly I feel disenfranchised, for various reasons. Why not a 'none of the above' box on our voting slips ?

Philipa said...

I agree Kev - why not a 'none of the above' on our voting slips Iain?

Philipa said...

Kevin Peat - sorry I missed that, you said "Quite right, Philipa - all points except Verity (no opinion)." - so were you there? At Christopher's debate? Or are you saying you were with PH that night so knew he wasn't at the debate? Do tell..