Monday, 2 October 2006

David Cameron & The 18th Century

Tory party conference this week, and there is some debate about David Cameron's background and his inner circle of fellow Old Etonians. One commentator dares to suggest that his obvious poshness might be a liability with the electorate at large, and that given the lack of any tangible policies from the Tories, opponents might latch on to this.

I am afraid that there is little mileage on this last point. Sadly, a century on from Kier Hardie the Labour Party has drifted so far from its origins that it cannot now play the class card.

But to those who would deny that class can or should be a part of modern politics, I would suggest trying a favourite pass-time of Lenin: During his period of exile in London, he would take long bus rides across the city observing the conditions of the different areas and suburbs, and the boundaries and nuances between shades of affluence and poverty.

Today exactly the same spectrum can be traced journeying through London's concentric circles of class. The city centre metro-liberal middle class , the inner city ghettos, the lower-middle class suburbs, the 'white flight' working class over-spill and the leafy commuter belt. And now as then, the largest part of this spectrum is unrepresented and disenfranchised watching the political process from the sidelines.

We have in effect a return to eighteenth century patrician politics. An arena where different factions of the political class fight it out (Court v County has been replaced with Blairite Islington v Cameronite Notting Hill). And where patronage is used to create a power base - peerages for sale anyone ? These modern day Whigs and Tories dare not mention the c-word, and whilst they may court our support at the hustings, neither can claim to represent us.

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