Category Archives: Cameron, David

The low intellectual level of people at the centre of power in Britain

Dalrymple writes that the title ‘director of communications in the administration of David Cameron’ is one that is

instinct with dishonesty. At least one knows what a second-hand car salesman does.

One holder of the office, a man called Craig Oliver, has written Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit. The book is, says Dalrymple,

one of the worst on any subject that I have read in a long time. It is a blow-by-boring-blow account of Mr Cameron’s referendum campaign, principally in the media of mass communication, to keep Britain in the European Union.

Dalrymple notes that

a very bad book may, in its own way, be highly instructive, as this one is. If mediocrity can ever be said to shine, then it shines from these pages.

Oliver,

though a journalist, has no literary ability whatsoever.

  • He writes entirely in clichés.
  • There is not a single arresting thought in over 400 pages.
  • Wit and even humour are entirely absent.
  • He seems unable to use a metaphor, almost always tired to begin with, without mixing it (‘We are likely to succumb on this if they get on their high horses and cry foul‘).
  • He has no powers of analysis.
  • He has no sense of history.

There is, Dalrymple concludes,

no plumbing his shallows.

Oliver was

at the centre of power for several years. Everyone around him, including the prime minister, comes off as just as uninteresting as he; though it has to be admitted that the author could make Talleyrand seem a bore.

The one outstanding quality that these mediocrities seem to share is

ambition. It is disconcerting for the citizen to be faced so starkly by the fact that ambitious mediocrity is now the main characteristic of those who rule him.

Dalrymple points to

the abysmally low cultural level of the British population, including of the most highly educated class, as this book amply demonstrates.

The most boring man ever to be prime minister

Dalrymple notes that the politician David Cameron was

a dullard.

Worse, left to his own devices, Cameron was

a terminal bore.

This was tacitly admitted when

a man called Bill Knapp, a consultant (in what, exactly?)

had to be brought over from the USA in order, in the words of Cameron’s fourth-rate ‘director of communications’,

to sharpen lines for the PM’s Question Time appearances and the wider TV debates.

Dalrymple notes that Cameron was in point of fact

the dullest man ever to hold the position of prime minister.

Britain’s spiv economy, polity and society

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Tony Blair: capo di tutti spivvi

The UK House of Commons, Dalrymple reports,

wants to strip [the tycoon] Sir Philip Green of his knighthood because it alleges that he is a spiv.

Dalrymple is

perfectly prepared to believe that he is a spiv, though I cannot claim to have followed his career closely. At the very least he seems to be a man given to vulgar show.

The Saturday supplement of the Financial Times newspaper: for people with more money than taste

The Saturday supplement of the Financial Times newspaper: for people with more money than taste

But Dalrymple asks:

How many members of the British parliament and government are spivs, or hope to become spivs at the end of their political careers? Two of our last three prime ministers were clearly of spiv calibre, one of them indeed to spivs what the capo dei capi is to the Mafia. If Parliament deprived them of their pensions, then it might have done something useful.

Once you grasp the concept of spivvery,

much about modern Britain becomes explicable. You have only to read the Financial Times’ Saturday supplement, How To Spend It, to understand how much of our economy is in essence a spiv economy. The supplement is aimed not at people with more money than sense, but at a group of people far, far worse: people with more money than taste, for whom Sir Philip is a leader of fashion.

David Cameron: clearly of spiv calibre

David Cameron: clearly of spiv calibre

We have, Dalrymple points out,

raised up spivs to the summit of our economy and society.

Moreoever, Britain has a tax system

that turns accountancy into the queen of the sciences.

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Sir Philip Green: leader of fashion

A service economy without the service

The Britannia Hotel, Coventry

The Britannia Hotel, Coventry

Whenever Dalrymple is in Amsterdam, he stays at

a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all Dutch.

Whenever he is in London, he stays at

a small, elegant and well-run hotel. The excellent and obliging staff are all foreign.

This is just as well, writes Dalrymple,

for if they were English the hotel would not be well-run for long. When the English try to run an hotel, they combine pomposity with slovenliness.

Perhaps this would not be so serious a matter

if the British economy were not a so-called service economy. It has been such since Margaret Thatcher solved Britain’s chronic industrial relations problem by the expedient of getting rid of industry. This worked, and perhaps was inevitable, but it was necessary for Britain to find some other way of making its way in the world. This it has not done.

A ruthless incompetent: David Cameron

A ruthless incompetent: David Cameron

In Britain, Dalrymple points out,

incapacity is everywhere.

Incompetence starts at the top. The prime minister, David Cameron, is

a careerist and opportunist in the mould of Tony Blair. Not only was Mr. Cameron’s only pre-political job in public relations, hardly a school for intellectual and moral probity, but he has subscribed to every fashionable policy nostrum from environmentalism to profligate government expenditure. Not truth, but the latest poll, guides him.

Cameron has been

truly representative as prime minister. Like his country, he is without substance.

Self-congratulatory posturing

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 08.50.54Kindness, writes Dalrymple,

turns into cruelty when it helps to maintain the need for kindness to be exercised; it then becomes an exercise in self-congratulation rather than in doing good.

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Cameron’s repellent utterances

Complacency and ruthlessness masked by sentimentality

Utter complacency and ruthlessness, the reverse side of the coin of sentimentality

Dalrymple points out that the language used by David Cameron, the British prime minister, is

deeply repellent.

It is

a mixture of undignified and condescending demotic and mid-Atlantic psychobabble. Just as Mr Blair was never Anthony, so for Mr Cameron dads are there for you (the kids), so that there comes a time when you (the kids) turn to them (the dads) and a light bulb suddenly flicks on inside your head. Psychobabble, the language of Rousseau’s Confessions without the confessions, does not come much shallower than this.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 08.28.35The choice of language is

a transparent attempt by Mr Cameron to persuade the public that he is just a normal chap – or as he would no doubt put it, guy – who happens to have found his way into 10 Downing Street, in more or less the same way I sometimes go down to the Castle Tea Rooms for my lunch.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 08.55.25Worse still is the sentimentality of what Cameron has to say, closely allied as it is, to

utter complacency and ruthlessness, both express and implied.

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Cameron, conjurer of terrible political problems out of thin air

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 07.51.15The re-election of the British prime minister David Cameron, writes Dalrymple,

solves nothing of the crisis of political legitimacy in Britain (constitutional legitimacy is something else).

With turnout of 66 percent

and the British party system balkanised, Cameron won re-election with the suffrage of 24.7 percent of the adult population. A vote for the Scottish National Party weighed nearly 150 times more heavily as far as representation was concerned as did a vote for the United Kingdom Independence Party. (It took 25,974 votes to elect an SNP member of parliament, 3,881,129 to elect a Ukip one.) A vote for the SNP weighed 25 times more than a vote for the Greens. The SNP won 50 percent of the votes in Scotland but 95 percent of the seats.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 23.18.10The British now live, Dalrymple points out,

in an unrepresentative democracy.

Cameron

promised a referendum on membership of the European Union, a promise that would be difficult even for Houdini to escape; and if it goes against membership, the Scots, who are Europhile but anti-English, might declare their independence and try to remain in the European Union.

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 08.15.47Nor would independence

be without potential for creating deep divisions, bitterness, and conflict in Scotland itself. The potential for chaos north and south of the border is enormous.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 07.58.05One of Britain’s prevailing assets has been its political stability. But that stability

has evaporated, probably for good—with potentially disastrous results for its financial sector, upon which it so strongly (though foolishly) depends.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 08.05.05Terrible political problems

have been conjured out of nothing except the ambition of politicians.

And

the country’s deeper problems—its low productivity, its abysmal cultural and educational levels—remain not only unanswered, but unremarked.

What is it about Cameron that repels?

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 23.26.34The British prime minister: a repulsive, ruthless sentimentalist who contemns his own countrymen

The language David Cameron uses, writes Dalrymple, is

a mixture of undignified and condescending demotic and mid-Atlantic psychobabble.

Especially repellent is

the sentimentality of what he has to say, closely allied as it is, to its utter complacency and ruthlessness, both express and implied.

Cameron’s actions, says Dalrymple,

cause me to shudder in the way I shudder when a singer misses a note. There is something wrong, kitsch or ersatz about it. An office-seeker who is prepared to parade his sentiments in public is ruthless, not sensitive. Sentimentality is frequently the reverse side of the coin of cruelty.

Implied in everything Cameron does is

contempt for the people of his own country,

whom he deems

incapable of grasping an argument about the desirability of fatherhood for children without the aid of Hello! magazine-type illustrations. This is to reduce our politics to the intellectual level of American tele-evangelism.

Backbone of a mollusc and morals of a jackal

His face is so moistly smooth and characterless that it looks as though it would disappear leaving a trail of slime if caught in the rain

His face is so moistly smooth and characterless that it looks as though it would disappear leaving a trail of slime if caught in the rain

Cameron is not the man for the job

In the Greece of the North Sea, writes Dalrymple,

several things need to be done, among them the reform and even dismantlement of the educational and social-security systems, the liberalisation of the labour laws, and the much firmer repression of crime. David Cameron is not the man for the job.

Cameron, says Dalrymple,

is Focus Group Man made flesh. This is not altogether surprising since his only known employment, other than politician, was in public relations. He appears not to know what to think until he has consulted a variety of gauges of public opinion, and then he announces his own opinion as if from deep conviction.

Blancmange-like, he

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Moulds himself to any shape going

moulds himself to any shape going.

Raised on public relations,

Cameron cannot think back further than yesterday’s focus group or ahead further than tomorrow’s opinion poll. Strategy is alien to him.

He made a commitment to further Scottish devolution,

thus conjuring constitutional problems from thin air. He was panicked into doing so by a single Gallup poll, whose authors must be very proud that a single poll of theirs affected a significant power so profoundly.

This was a typically Cameronian act of foolishness and incompetence. Moreover, the promise

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 07.25.38

Acted like a tin-pot dictator

was not Cameron’s to make: he acted more like a tin-pot dictator proposing a change to the constitution to allow himself a seventh term than a democratic politician.

Then came his pledge to protect the funding of the NHS,

because he knows through focus groups, opinion polls, etc., that the British people worship the NHS as the Israelites once worshipped the golden calf.

Cameron

cannot see a bad idea without embracing it with what he imagines is vote-getting fervour.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 07.27.10Nothing for Cameron

is a matter of principle, only of advantage, and short-term advantage at that, his sole discernible goal being that of maintaining himself in power.

What of his physiognomy?

His face is so moistly smooth and characterless that it looks as though it would disappear leaving a trail of slime if caught in the rain.

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Backbone

Morals

Morals

Britain’s election disaster

Lynton Crosby: political engineer

Winner: political engineer Lynton Crosby

The worst possible outcome for the Greece of the North Sea

Examining the results of the 2015 UK general election, Dalrymple notes that now,

to all Britain’s intractable problems — low productivity, abysmal cultural level, addiction to debt — have been added political instability and the prospect of chaos.

The poll, he writes, was both one of the most important, and one of the most boring, for many years.

It was important because

Winner: Nicola Sturgeon resembles an efficient and dedicated but bossy and unpleasant schoolmistress

Winner: Nicola Sturgeon resembles an efficient and dedicated but bossy and unpleasant schoolmistress

it destroyed Britain’s reputation for political stability. This is of enormous significance for a country that is so heavily dependent on financial services, having little else to offer the world, for money doesn’t like political turmoil. Half a trillion dollars has left and might not come back.

It was boring because

all the candidates were boring. Apart from Nicola Sturgeon, who looked like an efficient and dedicated but bossy and unpleasant schoolmistress, all the three main candidates contrived to look the same. They had smooth, characterless faces and often eschewed [neck-] ties for fear of intimidating with smartness the slobs and slatterns who are one of the country’s largest constituencies.

Loser

Loser: conflict and chaos are coming

The candidates looked less like people than

products designed by political engineers.

Neither David Cameron nor Nick Clegg nor Ed Miliband ever cracked a joke,

at least not knowingly. No one in Britain can tell any longer the difference between earnestness and seriousness. A joke will only get you into trouble — someone will take it literally and be offended. It is best not to make one, even if you are capable of it, which in these three cases is doubtful.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 23.59.36Cameron remains prime minister, but that is

not the same thing as political stability.

Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 11.19.59was workable and not grotesquely unfair when there were two overwhelmingly preponderant parties, but with the balkanisation of the political scene, the system is unworkable. The British now live in an unrepresentative democracy which produces gross distortions in parliament.

3.9m votes = 1 seat; 1.4m votes = 56 seats

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 23.58.23The biggest swing was to the UK Independence Party. It received 12.6% of the votes and one seat, compared with the Scottish National Party’s 4.7% of the votes and 56 seats. Dalrymple concludes:

No system that produces such a result can retain its legitimacy.

The system has given the SNP a near-monopoly of Scottish seats, so that

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 00.04.41the representation of Scotland in parliament would be worthy of the results of a Soviet election.

Moreover, for as long as the threat of Scottish independence remains,

stability cannot return to Britain. Chaos and conflict are just around the corner.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 08.18.12Britain’s one

indisputably successful and world-beating economic activity [apart from binge-drinking], namely financial skulduggery, might contract or collapse, because such skulduggery needs an environment of political stability.

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 10.34.06Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 23.18.10