What Davis said
Tonight, ex-senior Tory David Davis spoke on Radio 5 about Cameron’s inner circle as totally out of touch with the concerns of the vast majority of people in Britain.
There is as yet no transcript of what David Davis said on Radio 5, but Conservative Home puts the “bombshell” like this:
- A common criticism of the Cameron leadership is that they don’t have a sense of what poorer people…….
- It’s a problem of antennae rather than intellect…
- David and George care about the issues but they are who they are, they don’t come from backgrounds where people have to scrape together money at the end of the week…..
- We are the most stratified society in the western world. Cameron and Clegg say they want to change this but it’s tough for them to do so when they can only do so intellectually.
Back in August I argued at the end of a long and carefully evidenced post that the defining feature of the new government was not its policies, but its class background, which infuses all their actions:
[W]hen the background of these key leadership actors is taken into account…..alongside some of the early, more reactive social policy decisions, I think there is enough to suggest that the new Conservatism is not simply a return to Thatcherism, but also to a more ‘primeval’ Tory tradition, in which the concerns of the working classes (in the plural, EP Thompson sense) are not there to be understood, but to be delegated.
Perhaps, indeed, the Left’s quite visceral hatred of Cameronism is in part a realization that Cameron is the worst of both Tory worlds.
What, finally, does all this mean for the Left? Does it change the way we need to deal with the new Conservatism?
Yes, I think it does.
The key attack line to date has been that Cameronism is a return to hard-headed, and economically illiterate, Thatcherism. While there is certainly mileage in that approach, I think there may be more oppositional mileage in the development of a narrative of the Tories top tier as precisely what they are, totally out of touch with the lives of ordinary people, and increasingly dismissive of the need to be……….
What we need to do, I suggest, is to get serious in our attack on the backgrounds of the top Tories, not on the basis of personal criticisms, but on the basis that it doesn’t allow the government to govern responsibly.
Responsibility in modern government, and the fact that the Tories cannot offer it as a result of their core beliefs and traditions, is a theme we should be keen to develop (and in fact at a local level I have been developing it quite effectively already), and this theme needs to be backed by a constant flow of stories about irresponsibility, as well as an ongoing flow of evidence (of the type Laurie Penny has been working on) about the core attitudes and behaviour behind closed doors of the Tory establishment as a whole. In the next two years, as the rich stay rich and the poor get poorer, these stories and revelations will gain ever more traction.
Exposing the Tories for where the come from, what they are, and what they’re doing to us, is perfectly decent politics because of who they are and where they come from, and a decent opposition should be working all three of these factors, not just one.
Davis effectively backs this position with his words tonight, and makes all the stronger the case for going for the jugular of the Tories over their unearned positions of privilege.
They started the class war, perhaps because they don’t know any better.
We should finish it, because we do.