David Cameron's Speech: Bluster, Jingoism & A Huge Lack Of Substance

David Cameron delivered the archetypal Tory speech yesterday. He defended aspiration - something he knows nothing about - and indulged in cheap jingoism. I wasn't overly impressed...
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David Cameron delivered the archetypal Tory speech yesterday. He defended aspiration - something he knows nothing about - and indulged in cheap jingoism. I wasn't overly impressed...

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Bizarrely and, unexpectedly, I find myself writing about the Prime Minister's closing speech from the Conservative Party Conference 2012. I am not a political animal. In fact, I believe, that everyone lies; politicians, especially.

However, this Prime Minister's speech was of interest to me. In 2009, I worked in Germany and, when I returned to the UK, in March 2010, I came back to a country that was in severe distress. I noticed the change in the country. I could hear the death rattle in its gullet. During this government's occupation, they have quite clearly demonstrated that their promises and actions are diametrically opposed. Two words: Tuition Fees. I rest my case.

This speech was always going to be more about ridiculing his opponent than any more noble motive. What I had not expected was the cheapness of the speech writer's approach.

Cameron began by stating that the Tories came to power "at a grave moment in the modern history of Britain”. He pontificated a bit about making an insolvent nation solvent again, mending a broken society. Blah, blah. Now, Britain is on the right track, apparently, according to the Prime Minister. He doesn't see the same things as I do. Obviously.

The Olympics, Paralympics, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee would all have happened anyway, without the Tories – he has no right to claim nor, to bask in ,the reflected glory of these events

The bleakness of the opening was just irrelevant blather designed to elicit the necessary mumblings from the assembled throng of like-minded sheep. Mutterings about his disabled son, the Paralympics, his father who had no heels -  all designed to tug at the heartstrings and give the PM a chance to almost shed a tear, just to show us how human he is.

Yes, all very touching but, largely irrelevant to everyone. The Olympics, Paralympics, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee would all have happened anyway, without the Tories – he has no right to claim nor, to bask in ,the reflected glory of these events.

It is easy to pick holes in the speech but, in reality, there wasn't a great deal of actual substance.

It carefully picked on certain aspects like Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond, the NHS, the military, and listed all the things that are better under the Conservative Junta. That is the problem. This government is all about statistics and ticking boxes on lists to make things look better than they actually are.

It isn't, technically, lying but it isn't exactly honest, either.

 Aspiration, alone, is not enough in this modern world.

His phrase du jour was 'on the rise'. He referred to emerging nations as 'lean, fit, obsessed with enterprise, and spending money on the future' and the old powers as 'on the slides'. He talked about the the welfare systems, the huge pension bills, the unreformed public services, describing them as 'fat, sclerotic, over-regulated'. In closing he declared that he wasn't about to let that happen and that, as Prime Minister, his job was to make sure that Britain was on the rise. Fine words but, that's all they are.

I was impressed that they managed to get 'sclerotic' in there. Credit where it's due. It's quite a nice part of the speech but, as with most of the rest of it, it doesn't tell you anything once you look beneath the surface. I know what his job is: I want to see him do it!

Seemingly, the key to it all is: Aspiration. Oh. The privileged upbringing and a lifestyle that has never known anything about trying to exist on £20 a week or, whether today's choice is between heating or, eating had nothing to do with it? Aspiration, alone, is not enough in this modern world.

He talked about previous party leaders and attacked the labour leadership. Standard fare.

In spite of my desire to rubbish the entire speech and ridicule a man who I have no respect for, I cannot deny that I do, to some extent, agree with the stance on Housing Benefit

His best soundbyte was:

“They call us the party of the better-off...
...no: we are the party of the want to be better.”

Just more platitudes and empty vox pops.

The most talked about aspect of the current Tory administration was the jobless and housing benefit.

I have personal experience of their 'Work Programme' and it has severe failings, dealing more with shuffling people from one list to the next, thereby massaging the statistics to give a false impression, than actually helping anyone. Changing the rules to make it cheaper to employ part-timers on minimum wage is not sharing prosperity and spreading the wealth but, it does make the numbers look much improved.

In spite of my desire to rubbish the entire speech and ridicule a man who I have no respect for, I cannot deny that I do, to some extent, agree with the stance on Housing Benefit.

Finishing the speech off he, jingoistically, appealed to patriotic sentimentality. Cheap, when you think about it

The young should not see it as a life choice and career path and, in a society where someone who has never worked a day in their lives, has a troop of offspring, the state should not be required to keep them in a style to which they could never become accustomed, if left to their own devices. That is clearly unfair and cannot exist.

On the subject of education, once again: engage spin cycle. Admit the privilege and say that's what you want for all. All very well, but all that the Tories are suggesting is how I remember my school-days. It isn't a new idea. What he failed to address is what happens as the youth that has been deprived of a decent education for the last two decades, become the adults, the country's leaders, the future of our nation.

Finishing the speech off he, jingoistically, appealed to patriotic sentimentality. Cheap, when you think about it.

“Let us here in this hall, here in this government, together in this country make this pledge – let’s build an aspiration nation... ...let’s get Britain on the rise. Deficit, paid down. Tough decisions, taken. Growth, fired up. Aspiration, backed all the way. We know what it takes to win ... to win in the tough world of today .... to win for all our people ... to win for Britain. So let’s get out there and do it.”

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