The apotheosis of Dave

But do I detect a certain incoherence?

“We need to change the way we feel. No more grumbling about modern Britain, I love this country – as it is, not as it was – and I believe our best days lie ahead.”

On the other hand…

“I want to set free the voluntary sector and social enterprises to deal with the linked problems that blight so many of our communities – of drug abuse, family breakdown, poor public space, chaotic home environments, high crime. We can deal with these issues, we can mend our broken society,” the well-connected Old Etonian insisted.

Modern Britain is broken, but I love it. Well, never mind what he says. The message is “I’m like you”.

I’m comfortably off. I have in the past had business relations with Colombian paramilitary groups, but that’s no concern of the hoi polloi. I can make a pretty impressive pitch without too much preparation. I like to go shopping, but sometimes, y’know, I forget things and have to nip back into town to pick them up.

Along with economic competitiveness, better run and funded public services, quality of life issues and security at home and abroad, social justice was one of six priorities identified in Mr Cameron’s victory speech. Despite its polished delivery, without text or autocue, he accidentally omitted the sixth which aides later said was the fight against global poverty.

Gosh. Ain’t I just folks. Dave was, briefly, a government relations manager for a media company. Now the press office guy has stepped up to the purple. This in itself seems to be revealing. Way back when, Margaret Thatcher broke the power of the unions and so earned the undying loyalty of the Murdoch press. This was a transaction from high to low. Blair famously went to Australia to pitch for Murdoch’s support. This was a subordinate, contracting relationship, but still one between separate and independent powers, and what Old Labour types have been doing since then can be characterized as a struggle to maintain that independence.

But Dave’s apotheosis doesn’t seem to involve anyone higher than middle management. He’s a creation of op ed writers, departmental heads, message drivers in inter-corporate communications. Maybe not so much a creation, more of a kind of avatar. Media and politics are merging, and there’s no need to involve the boss in the day to day process of managing the commodities produced by this merger. This is the legacy of Blair to the Tories. The only way they can outflank him is to shut up shop as an independent institution and merge, as a junior partner, with the communications industry. With the end of that independence so ends a set of perspectives, ideas, understandings, traditions and particular ways of looking at Britain and the world. Now we have a kind of callow, aesthetic vision of politics, a sort of politics of comfort.

In return, the Tories will get a lot of equity. I’m sure Dave’s first appearance at PMQs will be hailed as a triumph and every brain bubble that passes his lips will be greeted with shock and awe. Yet Cameron will be simply running through capital, having lost the means to generate more. Nothing gets old like newness and eventually, media cycles accelerate constantly and sometime his handlers will get bored with him. It’s a long time till 2009. The parallel here is with the Royal Family. They started by controlling access and expecting deference. Now they’re simply a branch of light entertainment.

1 comment
  1. Jonn said:

    I think, depressingly, that what this says is that large chunks of the media were desperate to push for a Tory coronation at the last election… only they couldn’t because Howard was a) tainted, b) unelectable, and c) apparently utterly incapable of leading an election campaign without resorting to the “I’m not racist but” vote. As a result, noone in even the right-wing media could believe he was really going to do it and so they struggled to generate any enthusiasm. (The single exception as far as I can tell was William Rhys-Mogg who is, famously, wrong about everything.)

    The impression you get from Cameron’s coronation – especially given that he was the one running that odious Tory campaign – is that this is the kind of enthusiasm with which a lot of the media has wanted to greet a Conservative leader for some tim – only the leaders the party had were embarrassingly bloody awful. It’s instructive that those bits of the media that haven’t been cheering on the new boy are the instinctively anti-Tory ones: the Guardian’s Wrap column reported yesterday that the honeymoon was over (after one day!), and Freedland reckons he’s the new Bush; the Newsnight info email today accused him of a u-turn; even the Times, still leaning more to Labour, called it a gamble.

    It feels like this has been coming for a very long time… it’s just been obscured by the Tories managing to cock everything up pretty much consistently.