Friday, 9 October 2009

Conference Review - David Cameron

David Cameron

Content - 9 Deliver - 9

It was a great speech. DC came up with the goods. It wasn't loaded with fanfare to some people's disappointment. But I think he made the right call. All week, we have had a chance to look at the shadow cabinet team so it was entirely appropriate that he made his speech all about himself. Because in reality, a large part of the decision that people are making is a decision about who should be the boss.

So, we need to know what he is about. We need to empathise with and understand the man to the extent that we need to - to make a confident decision. So it was appropriate to talk about his personal trials and his vision for the future.

Since Blair, the UK's electorate's PBRs have been working flat-out, every time a politician appears on TV or in the media. (PBR - Personal Bullshit Radar) But Cameron's speech seems to have had a strange effect on them. Some people's radars have been beeping away furiously - convinced that everything they see and hear is a big pile of monstrous bullshit whilst others have simply emited regular, reassuring heartbeat beeps.

Why? Why are some people convinced he is lying and others just see someone being straightforward and honest?


3 kinds I think.

1) Politician Prejudice - All politicians lie - so if David Cameron is speaking it just means he is busy lying. These people are so cynical that they cannot work out the difference between honesty and lies. The only way to treat them is just to be absolutely honest all the time and eventually they will one, by one, start to soften. The overwhelming barrage of honesty will eventually break down the barrier. Think of them like severely mentally damaged children. They just need love and honesty but start telling whoppers and immediately you will set them screaming and set the process back by years.

2) Conservative Prejudice - The Cameron decontamination exercise of the Conservative brand is by no means complete. There is still significant latent prejudice towards the 'values' that the brand projects. Conservatism, to many, still means looking after the rich and ignoring the needs of the poor. But actually this is translated in people's heads to looking after those who are advantaged and ignoring the needs of the disadvantaged - making it even more damaging. This prejudice needs to broken down and DC's speech did much to do so. But prejudice number 3 makes it difficult for DC to deal with.

3) Wealth Prejudice - Last night's Questiontime contained 2 references to prejudice. The first was Race-Prejudice concerning Anton DuBeck (can't be bothered to look up the spelling - why bother spending time on the guy!) and the second was Wealth-Prejudice. One of the audience said to George Osborne, 'How can you say we are all in it together when you are heir to a multi-million pound fortune. Osborne handled it ok by saying he was proud of what his father had achieved. But no-one took exception to the prejudice in the way that they did to Anton DuBeck's tasteless comment. Because in this country it is still ok to dislike wealthy people..because wealthy people look after themselves (that's how they got wealthy right?). We don't generally admire people's achievements - we run them down for having selfishly lined their own pockets - mad but true.

From here on in, DC has to confound these prejudices. He, and Osborne (who has a huge role to play in this), have to non-confrontationally challenge this thinking.

Osborne for example needs to explain that yes he is incredibly fortunate to have been born into a wealthy family and explain that it has burdened him with a keen sense of the unfairness that exists in society but also the opportunity to dedicate his working life to changing the system that we live in, to provide opportunities for everyone.

To people who spend most of their working lives trying to generate enough wealth to feed themselves, pay their mortgage, pay for their car and bring up their kids, the idea that wealthy people would, having become wealthy, want to focus their efforts on helping others rather than simply generating more wealth doesn't make complete sense. But it is the reality - so it needs explaining.

People who are born into wealth, and who don't have to dedicate their lives to earning a living, very often give purpose to their life by dedicating it to helping others. And many who make money, realise after years of working entirely for themselves that it was all rather pointless and then just give it all away or use the skills they acquired on their journey to help others. Get people to focus on those types of people - not on the rich minority who think they are better than others.

Go for it DC. Tell people more about yourself. Lets hear some stories about what you learn't sitting on the floor of NHS hospitals late at night hoping Ivan would get thro' the night. Let's hear about the people you met and what they taught you. Let's hear about their kindness to you when you were in turmoil and how that strengthened you.

Let's hear about the journey you made from the Bullingdon Club to where you are now. Let's hear about your dalliances with that small but damaging minority of the rich, privileged types whose aim is the maintenance of their 'superior' status and let's hear how and why you rejected that and became the person you are today.

Use the Bullingdon Club attacks as an opportunity to explain where you have come from, how you got here and where you are going - so we all want to come with you..


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