Trying to understand the right wing mind – continued

There is a revealing recent article in the FT where it is suggested that Clare Foges, who was a speech writer for former UK prime minister David Cameron, argued that to help people climb the ladder we should teach them to “emulate the ease and studied informality of the privileged”.

Ms Foges has described how, working with Mr Cameron, she learnt that “lightness” was an essential quality: “Far better to be jolly and vague than earnest and right — marking you out as someone who doesn’t really get it”. If running the country isn’t a job worth taking seriously, it’s not clear what is. Indeed, if the past decade’s worth of financial and political crises have taught us anything, it is surely that we could use more leaders in politics and business who doubt themselves, who seek the opinions of others and who lie awake worrying about the consequences of their actions.

This cogent comment is worth highlighting, especially as it appeared in the FT! Lightness is a fault that, in my view, permeates much of the current Tory Party and the reason so many ordinary people detest them.

I’m reminded of Cameron, when leader of the opposition, travelling to Parliament on a bike. Only for it to be later revealed that his briefcase and shoes followed later in a car. For lightness we could actually substitute vacuous and insubstantial.

Old fashioned Tories had at least fought in a war and so encountered people other than their ‘own sort’ and had to get on with them.

Now we have Tories who, with very few exceptions, have never, themselves, known financial hardship and whose (mental) lightness is such that they have no empathy.

Professor Danny Dorling thinks that the Public Schools were designed to train the rulers of the empire.

As we now have, mostly, realised how the empire was in fact ruled, perhaps we should not be surprised that the same general insouciance is exhibited when such people rule at home?


  1. Sean Danaher -

    Anthony Barnett has a description of Cameron in “The Lure of Greatness” which very much chimes with this description. He was totally devoid of substance, or principle, and would in fact say anything to get into and stay in power.

    Merkel is the exact opposite, not flashy in the oratorical sense – just gets on with the job. The same may be said for the EU, boring efficiency as opposed to flash rhetoric and style.

    Michael Collins in 1922 said something like “How do these idiots ever run an Empire?.” I suspect the answer is that the UK Civil Service was one of the best in the world. It has been hollowed out and more and more political advisors are being used. A trend that started with Thatcher but accelerated under Blair.

    1. Charles Adams -

      The right-wing mind is stuck in an anal phase of development where they can only see inwards towards the self. Sad for them, but they do not even realise it. There is a game theory model (possibly a bit contrived) which says the evolutionary selection is optimised by a 50:50 mix of selfish individualists and cooperative care givers (in practice we are all on a spectrum, rather than one or the other). Politics and economics are man-made distortions and democracy should have the ability to self-correct but democracy is vulnerable to undemocratic forces.*

      * Democracy is subtle. Whereas a referendum may appear as a pinnacle of democratic choice, it is often not that black and white. The EU referenda was undemocratic because it offered a false choice, between ‘beef’ or ‘no beef’, without specifying what ‘no beef’ meant. When people voted for ‘no beef’ and where offered ‘chicken’ instead they did not want that either. There is never a majority for any ‘no beef’ option.

      1. Sean Danaher -

        yes I had forgot about Games Theory. The bigger question is how such people can grip a Nation?

    2. Andrew Dickie -

      Sean, despite all his very many achievements (and failures – especially over Ireland), it could he argued that the Civil Service crafted by Gladstone was his greatest, and longest-lasting.

      What was done to it by, and since, Thatcher (who never got over how her civil servants had, as she saw it, “bamboozled” her into, for example, being the Education Secretary who closed more Grammar Schools and opened more comprehensives than any other SoS!!, and so determined to neuter it) – what was done to that 1st rate institution was an act of unparalleled vandalism, and monumental stupidity – really sawing off from the wrong side the
      branch one is sitting on, as is daily apparent!

      1. Sean Danaher -

        Thanks, the additional history is fascinating.. I find it saddening. If we had semi-competent politicians in charge then it might be OK, but so many in cabinet are totally lightweight or downright incompetent.

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