Thursday, 21 November 2013

Other Men’s Flowers

There are plenty of people who live their life at work as is it were some intellectual exercise, choosing to take decisions that are for the great good but have a terrible impact on their own careers.  Field Marshal the Lord Wavell was one, he chose to pick a fight with an obdurate and all-powerful Churchill and was summarily dispatched to pull together his famous anthology of poetry “Other Men’sFlowers” rather than take any further part in the Second World War.  Britain lost her most talented commander but gained a literary gem. 

If you don't have it, do buy it
One might expect this kind of selfless attitude from a Wykehamist but it’s wholly unexpected, and unwelcome, from an Etonian and a politician to boot!






The Cameron project has been years in the making and is now revealing itself as a flagrant act of public spirited charity, rather than a business like political agenda.  Let’s us first remind ourselves that David Cameron comes from the perfect rootstock for a Conservative leader.  His family are upwardly mobile and middle class, although he went to Eton and Oxford he strived to get there rather than it being a family right.  Left to this egalitarian trajectory he might be repeating the important and game changing achievements of Margaret Thatcher, but then there was a problem.  In 1996 he married the daughter of Annabel Lucy Veronica Jones, Viscountess Astor and having now married into the aristocracy he had had to change is tune.  The great strength of the British aristocracy is their ability to take a very long term view, this has enabled them to:  weather the storms of, universal suffrage, the rise of trade and tradesmen, two world wars, raging socialism and inflation.  You won’t find many of the British Aristocracy in the Forbes rich list but they are still a force to be reckoned with, in short - they know how to endure in a well mannered way.

David Cameron’s recent elevation to the lower echelons of the aristocracy gives him parity with his Chancellor George Osborne, who is the heir to a baronetcy, but this has furthered hampered the Tory government in the difficult decisions that need to be made.  Instead of tackling the really important problems head on, like a pair of benevolent land owners, they have just muddled through, looking after their most impoverished tenants without dealing with the underlying issues.  Any aspirational tendencies and Darwinian sentiments of natural selection have been replaced by a softer, more muddled ideology of “doing good” and endurance. This approach to politics has prompted some pretty un-conservative policies:


·         Ring fencing of spend cuts for the NHS and Welfare
·         Tax breaks for the very low paid
·         The disarmament of the UK army and navy
·         Punitive taxes property sales
·         Planning laws that threaten the leafy suburbs



Both Cameron and Osborne seem to believe that their core vote think that their support is in tune with the egalitarian and glacial progress towards recovery and prosperity.    If you own 25,000 acres in Lincolnshire you might not be that interested in what your disposable income is this month but for the vast majority of Tory votes this is all they can think about.  There is no doubt that the government has created improvements for some people:  school children, gay couples, very poor people and those who rely of state benefits and pensions have all done relatively well.  But the thing is that the hard working middle classes have been paying for both these improvements and the austerity required to pay-down Labour’s debts. Worst hit have been those on middle income and above (£35k-£50K annual salary).  They have been penalised on all sides:  taxes on income are up (allowances down and national insurances up), benefits down (child benefits and other sweeteners), wage inflation is below RPI and interest on accrued saving have been decimated by low interest rates and QE.  There is now a sense of betrayal amongst the hard working middle classes have suffered in silence – they have not manned the barricades but they will have the moment in the sun – probably around June 2015.

David Cameron elevation should be good preparation for many long years of retirement and we look forward to his anthology of favourite computer games!  If he is to avoid this one hit wonder status he need to rediscover his middle class roots and he needs to do this now.

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