Monday, October 11, 2010
Of Elites and their Tones of Voice
Simon Head drew upon Cannadine's Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy, which charts the decline of the Tory elite's source until Douglas Home's brief period in power 1963-4. After that Tories dug down the social order for their leaders: working class Heath, Lower middle Thatcher, and then the serial failures of Hague, IDS and Howard until Cameron obligingly lent his Old Etonian composure to the post of leader. Socially this post - aristocratic group of leaders had something in common with figures like RA Butler, Hugh Dalton. Oliver Franks and the like whom Head likens to the French nobility who owed their places to their often inherited judicial or administrative posts: noblesse de la robe. It is from such a background that Head sees Cameron and Head emerging:
It is appropriate that Eton and Oxford, Westminster and Cambridge should feature in the CVs of Cameron and Clegg because the ancient universities and the leading public schools have played a dominant role in the history of this singular culture, forging an upper middle class from which a much smaller ruling elite could be heavily recruited. We think, for example, of Eton as the supremely "posh" public school, catering for the children of the old aristocracy and the noblesse de robe.
It is this 'super' middle class- to some extent a gentrified City Bourgeoisie- based on private education that has provided so many of our political class during the last century and still exercises a degree of domination as the present coalition demonstrates. Head notices however that the current duo have managed to change the style of governemnt traditionally associated with a rightwing elite.
One thing they have done is to rid themselves of the most toxic ingredient of their heritage which, following Shelley's "Ozymandias", I'll call the Sneer of Cold Command or snocc for short – an unappealing acronym for what is now thought of as a distinctly unappealing style.
That cold, patronising voice of 'authority' has become anathema to British voters and Cameron has been brilliant in burying it. The tone of his government is so much softer than that of the awful Thatcher and has set the benchmark for his government, witness Andrew Lansley's persuasive performance on the World at One today. It is not just the tone which is liberal, but quite a few of the policies too. No wonder Tories on the right mutter darkly that their leader is not a 'proper' Conservative. I say thank God he isn't.
horny handed labourer,My Lord Prescott ?
FYI Cameron is mis-trusted by many right thinking people because of his attachment to the Brussels Project & refusal to honour the referendum commitment.
Take this... witness Andrew Lansley's persuasive performance on the World at One today....
This a man who is to dismantle the NHS, hand commissioning through GP consortia to the likes of Tribal Healthcare and Serco, detach Foundation Trusts from the NHS... and you are delighted by his manners of gentle persuasion.
If only George W Bush had got that winning bedside manner, Bill, you would have gamely followed him into Iraq with a cheery grin.
Is this really what politics has descended to in the post-Blair era, vote for the guy with the winning smile.
I am beginning to despair.
Do you mean you have posted comments which have not been published? There has not been one I have rejected so don't know what has happened to any comment you've made.
There might be a Labour Government by the time this one goes up...
Though prob'ly not.
Well I publish thm immiediately so you'll have to blame blogger technology.
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