David Cameron: what is so leaderly about him?

David Cameron… I still can’t get over the fact that enough people voted for this creature of superficial spin to put him back into power. What leadership qualities does he possess, for goodness’ sake? Where is the economic acumen? What principles? How, compassionate? What practical wisdom? What charisma? Who does he respect? What does he value? The Planet? People? Justice? One Nation? Don’t make me laugh. He’s either a bumbling villain or a bought puppet and how anyone can look around, at their own country and the world, in extension and simply put aside his demonstrable emptiness and complacently overlook the myriad connective catastrophes wrought and perpetuated by the collective greedy, selfish, superficial crony mind he embodies and enables – just for the incentive of some short-term, personal profit, at the expense of those who gain little or nothing of good by it – that is truly remarkable.

He and his crew have no respect for, nor understanding of, Constitution, sound Law, Democracy, societal cohesion and public interest; dignity, honour, integrity or consequence. They believe they have a monopoly on such concepts but they confuse Principle with Tradition. A tradition of entitlement and patronising, arbitrary benevolence. So they maraud around, sucking the heart and spirit out of nigh-on anything they so much as look at and tell us it’s the only way and that it’s for our own good.

‘Moral conscience’? If David Cameron had one of those (or even a dash of socio-economic nous) he would not entertain the likes of Iain Duncan Smith as Secretary for Work and Pensions or Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary. To name but two.

All that time spent on how much Ed Miliband did or did not look like a leader. Now, all the hot air about whether Corbyn is electable as Prime Minister. All that time wasted by a magpie Media and a positioned electorate, giving Cameron a wholly undeserved free pass. But, beyond some pretty inadequate middle management skills, what is so leaderly about him? What calibre of leader is he who cannot or will not connect the dots? What kind of leader is he who acts as though some don’t exist while he fabricates others? Honest mistakes, a country can tolerate, even forgive but not this continual hypocrisy, incompetence and purposeful ignorance. It’s insidiously destructive and increasingly embarrassing.

This is a Prime Minister who projects a sordid strength through a reinvigorated imperialist attitude but is so weak in ethical content that he can be led by the nose into dangerous, glory-hunting cul-de-sacs and pushed around by disingenuous and capricious tabloids. This is a leader who has to be shamed into behaving appropriately on an international stage. This is a leader who can’t or won’t govern even his own citizens with respect. Scaled up or down, he is hollow.

David Cameron. Look at him; hear him, with his stiff composure and tardy, doublethink platitudes, proclaiming moral grounds that prove to be constantly, quite beyond his reach.

Paxo Stuffing

Last night Channel 4 and Sky News co-hosted the first ‘Battle For No 10’


Paxo, gung-ho
But still, not that important
Shook Callme’s comportment
With countering facts
About Comeback’s mad data
And cuts with big buts that
The hedging created.
And I was elated
When Paxo related those
Zero-hours contracts to ineptitude
Quizzing Dave “could you live on one?”
“That’s not the question,” shot back the reply
(Except that it clearly was – quite a few times)
And so Dave was well got as the answer,
Once prised, was a “no”
(Of course not)
And as Jeremy smiled, so did I
As I pictured lame Lynton’s team
Dying inside – they forgot to rehearse
The Electorate’s side!

And then Ed said New Labour
Had made some mistakes and apologised
For some loose numbers and regs
But then, fully determined to set his
Own stride, showed his not-gloomy self
And berated the myth that to be socialist
Meant you didn’t do wealth and, Hell yes!
He was tough and no, David (the brother
One) didn’t do left enough, making it clear
To all those who would hear how a hair
Rests between David, David and Blair.

With the head-to-head separate
Questioning done, the debate was begun in which
Virtually everyone who had a care, declared
Their chap had won, having been best prepared.

And the ones who would dare to vote other, 
Shared wittily, Paxo would fit into Number Ten prettily.

Not just Ed. Maybe not Ed, at all.

To Labour,

Taking into account the Media’s efforts to paint Ed as a disaster and halving it – and halving it again – the fallout around poor old Miliband is not fuelling confidence in me that he can hold it together, even if he wins the next General Election. What kind of Cabinet will his ‘team’ make? Who will be served by it? And how much is Ed Miliband the real problem? Is his perceived weakness due more to his ‘awkwardness’ – by now a self-perpetuating force – or to his inability to discern and avail himself of useful, appropriate advice? Most of his team, whether front or back benchers or hired consultants are hardly helpful or even inspiring. He surrounds himself with the dismal advice and strategies of banality, nostalgic muddle-heads and should-be Conservatives. Did he actually choose this team? How much of it is chosen for him? Is the weakness in his judgement or his authority, then?

The party bigwigs should make their minds up about how their individual, personal philosophies fit to the mission statement. The ‘crisis’ in the party is that, like the Conservatives, Labour doesn’t know itself anymore; like the Conservatives, Labour has become two parties in denial. Like the Conservatives, Labour doesn’t identify sufficiently with the real worlds of its electorate. So, by all means, get rid of Ed, if you think it’ll help but, for goodness’ sake: don’t stop there! Wake up and lose the stale and mouldy obstacles. Not just Ed. Maybe not Ed, at all. Are you sure you’re not worrying a little too much about the wrong Ed? Get rid of the Blair acolytes and apologists; get rid of the Brownonian bulldozers. Shift them all to the back benches or suggest they join another party if they’re so keen on being a politician but tell them that their ideas of what Labour means have turned out to be an historically nasty, neoliberal blip and that they are not at all the desired trajectory.

The social, political, economic circumstances in which this country (and indeed, the world) finds herself are too grave to waste time on loyalty for loyalty’s sake. Be loyal out of true respect and faith or walk away. Keep Ed, or don’t. Put up or shut up. Shit, or get off the pot. Just make your minds up and sort it out already! Change your rules or overrule him if that’s what you want and that’s what it takes. But, really, is the ‘problem’ entirely Ed Miliband or is it actually mostly the scaffolding around him?

The Conservatives will kill us if they win in 2015. You know it. And you know why. Stop imitating them. Stop pandering to the right-wing press. Stop pretending you know what we want just because you wandered around in public the other day, surrounded by cameras, looking for a photo-op and a soundbite. Stop seeing us through your own projections and try actually listening beyond received clichés. Try speaking to us in more than soundbites and clichés. Be brave, get a grip and give this country or however many countries we are, these days, a credible box on the ballot. One that will be my pleasure to mark my cross in.

Whatever you do, there is going to be a risk. Lose because of him. Win in spite of him. Win because you dared to change the guards and the message. Lose because you replaced him too late with the effect of greater farce. You have to choose which one you can live with so that I can choose.

Please… Choose integrity. Choose authenticity. Choose to have courage in your convictions. Choose. Hurry up and choose.

Apparently, David Cameron looks like a Prime Minister
If Labour said…
Dear Labour

Apparently, David Cameron looks like a Prime Minister…

Apparently David Cameron looks like a Prime Minister – which must surely be based on the fact that he is the Prime Minister rather than on any notion that he’s actually any good at it. Not that I’m claiming that Ed Miliband necessarily would be a good Prime Minister either but, really: Call-me-Dave is no leader, is he, not by any measurable means. He can’t command the loyalty of his troops, he’s really terrible at negotiating, he’s crap at strategy and he thinks in puddle-deep box sets. And as for his policies: they are ridiculous, petty, ignorant, cruel and extortionate. What Dave is good at, though, is insisting on the validity of tosh, pretending that he has had a coherent plan all along and reverting to the mob mentality of jeering and bullying when cornered. What he is good at is whipping out his serious face and reddening it on demand. He’s excellent at that. There is no real substance to this man, neither in his philosophy nor his expression of personality. He thinks and speaks in short straight dashes and disconnected particles.

Maybe Ed really isn’t as popular as Dave. I wonder what difference it would make to public perceptions if the Media weren’t quite so keen to keep making us think this. Obviously his policies should be critiqued, just as Cameron’s should be. Both men provide plenty of scope for that! But Ed is treated as though he were one of those awkward kids at school who had trouble fitting in because no one would let him. Jeez! He’s even been asked straight to his face if he thinks he is ‘normal’!

We all knew those kids in school: something about their background, physical appearance, speech patterns, an eccentric personality – anything, real or made up, that made them an easy and constant target for the ‘popular’ kids. Well that’s the eager bullying attitude that echoes through the media and, indeed, many a Twitter hashtag. He’s not the only regular victim, of course. Any public person and many a private individual are fair game for those who would rather play the wo/man than the ball; for those, so impotent in their anger, that they will relish any opportunity for the brief satisfaction of cheap, irrelevant, infantile spite. We all knew those kids at school, too, didn’t we? And some never grow out of it, do they..?

I wonder how differently Cameron would be received by the electorate if the media were to show him the same level of relish for personalised disrespect; if it focused constantly on his personal appearance, that diction, the head bobbing, his mannerisms and personality with the same opportunistic degree of attention. How marvellous it would be if the media had actually bothered to properly scrutinise his policies these last years!

It’s one thing to be gently amused at someone’s public gaffs; to facepalm at the ease with which public figures can gift satire; to despair over unintended farce. But isn’t it quite another when those with the public power seem to want so much to negatively frame a person’s character that it is prioritised to distraction? And is this personalised shredding not relentless? And if a person is always framed a certain way, where do the cause and the effect begin and end?

Ed is probably not the best leader Labour could have come up with. (Forget his brother. He is no loss unless you think another Blairite or Cameronian is what the country needs.) But Ed is commonly perceived to be an intelligent, thoughtful, decent man, speaking from the heart, with a serious intent to govern in the interests of everyone. It’s because his policies are such a poor reflection of this that he deserves the ridicule or criticism. The rest is really extra curricular bitchy dross.

Every day, the disabled, the mentally ill, single parents, the unemployed are bullied based on ignorant preconceptions and meanness of spirit. Every day there is a story somewhere about the serious problems our kids are facing with the pressures of online bullying, sexting, nomination etc. Every day there is anxiety about the world we are creating and leaving to the next generations. We like to hold ourselves up as beacons of sexual, racial, gender equality and the like and yet our default is still to the sorry playground politics of irrational, shallow, mob-handed prejudice.

Those who want to or intend to vote Labour appear to do so for two main reasons: 1) they actually still believe in/agree with Labour or 2) they know the country just could not stand another Conservative-led term and that, in spite of its increasing inter-party and party-electorate relationship disarray, Labour is currently the only viable alternative (at least by numbers). I’m currently in the miserable latter group, wishing I could be in the first.

I don’t know if Ed Miliband will be a good Prime Minister but I do know David Cameron is absolutely not. I feel sick at the thought of having to choose by virtue of a lesser evil. Labour is not sufficient to my needs and vision but the Cons are utterly detrimental to both. I’m worried about a great deal of Labour’s materialising manifesto because it is mostly merely tinkering with the problems of neoliberalism rather than dismantling it and delivering alternative narratives but I’m not so doubtful of Ed’s general good intent or integrity. It’s difficult to distinguish whether Labour’s Tory-lite policies are driven by populist panic or by true belief but there is, nonetheless, more hope in this sad shambles than the current crop of Cons could ever muster, even if it wanted to.

Ed might be as awkward, clumsy, perhaps, as does the Media present him but, while I appreciate the preference, even the need for a bit of polish and charisma, I at least don’t look at Ed and see a jumped-up, moralising, divisive and superficial character as I do when I look at Dave. I don’t see the inauthentic, quite so self-serving PR stuntman in Ed that I see in Dave. I see in Ed, a man who might not fit the traditional ‘alpha’ mould but who has shown, at times, that he has some courage in his bones. I see a man who may or may not want to, or even be able to create sufficient escape velocity from the corporatised world but I think he will, at least, not so readily bow down before it. What I also see is a man thus far surrounded by too much truly dismal advice.  If he cannot be the engine of true progress then he will simply have to serve as the brakes on this bullshit bus we’re travelling in while we figure out the next move. And, yes: that sucks.

If Labour said…

“Dear Citizens

You are right: we’ve failed you. We have been letting you down for decades. We got so sucked into the machinery of modern establishment that we came to represent its interests first and always more than yours. We got so swept up in the glamour and excitement of Business, markets and competition that we didn’t notice how our obsession with outsourcing expansion to profiteers was shrinking your choices, your opportunities, your own standards of living. We became so dependent on the good will and approval of the televisual and printed press that we lost our heads to the purpose of self-preservation. We put our egos first and disregarded how Media was positioning both us and you. We realise, now, how you have been subjugated through a feedback loop of perpetual spin and hypocrisy; how your intelligence, wisdom and common sense have been treated with contempt; how we’ve made you feel you are not trusted with unadulterated facts and complex problems because it meant ceding our desire to engineer ideological direction and to control expedient outcomes if we did.

We understand, now, why you have so little faith in our abilities and even less in our motives. We realise that, although so much of what New Labour did under Tony Blair was seen and sold as progressive, we did, in fact, end up building on Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal dreams. We recognise how this contributed, in turn, to the emboldening of the present Conservative-led Coalition to the worst of that end, to libertarian values that produce fragmentary, patronising policies of false economy that serve the few at the expense of everyone else. We recognise how our failure to examine and oppose David Cameron’s policies with the scrutiny and logic available – that you all knew they warranted – and, up until now, our own future intentions, justifies the common accusation that we are all the same.

Call it déjà vu; call it Labour’s dark night of the soul, dear citizens but our lightbulb moment has come. We understand, at last, that you are cynical and sensitive because we became cynical and defensive; that because we stopped believing in you, you stopped believing in us.

We have remembered that you, You, the People: you are the State, the backbone, the soul of these lands; that your needs are what we first serve; that without you, there is no nation. We’ve realised that we need not fear Democracy nor Justice. We have remembered that you are all of equal human worth, regardless of your ‘status’ in society and that you deserve to be treated with decency and respect and equally under Law, whatever your orientations, be they given, real or apparent.

We have remembered that a good economy fits Society, not the other way around; that life must work for us, not that work is what life is for; how essential it is to have space to just be; that having time and space to be creative and productive comes at least as much through freedom and leisure as through scheduled ‘paid’ employment; that you and your children are not malleable commodities to be herded and nudged from cradle to grave; that contribution to a society comes in more forms than being forced into the dead-end of poorly paid work merely to placate ideological cliques. We have remembered that it is the responsibility of a government to facilitate an economy that provides a decent standard of living for all abilities and/or ambitions; that if a government cannot or won’t, it has no right to say who is ‘deserving’ of compensatory assistance; that to punish the young for our failings is petty, misguided and soul-destroying. We’ve remembered that pushing the sick and disabled to constantly justify entitlement to what are pretty modest benefits and into further vulnerability and distress on pain of penury is cruelly uncivilised.

We’ve remembered that we should be discerning about what and how we make and grow for the future because we want an ethical, viable and sustainable environment on all levels and our relationships to be built on integrity, both at home and around the world. We recognise that this starts with honourably serving you.

We’re finally getting it.”

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” ~ Dr. Seuss