The curse of Cameron

 First published on Brand Republic - 21 July 2011

Never before has ‘the establishment’ – as defined by Politicians, Police and Press – been so derided, discredited, and utterly disgraced as they are today.

After his ‘performance’ in Parliament yesterday, those of us interested in current affairs – and human behaviour within that sphere – are entitled to review the position, and character, of the man at the top.

Let’s face it, our country is now in a worse state than David Cameron himself can ever have imagined when he became Prime Minister just over a year ago.

Frankly, his ‘reign’ has been a complete disaster.

On 7 July, even The Daily Telegraph screamed: ‘Cameron is in the sewer’.

Why is this? How has he let this happen?

Napoleon said ‘give me lucky generals’.

Is Cameron unlucky?

Is he incompetent?

Or is he fatally flawed?

He is undoubtedly able, as testified by his first class degree from Oxford – and the fact that he seems to have achieved his position without resorting to any particularly devious, underhand or hypocritical tactics.

As a human being, he seems balanced and well mannered. His peers (sic) appear to like him. I know of no stories of bad-temperedness, bullying or throwing phones at people.

Yet, from every perspective, can he ever have imagined a worse year than his last?

Is David Cameron cursed?

While he has been Prime Minister, his father and a son have died. It would be tasteless to refer to these personal sadnesses other than as facts – and, from a human perspective, of course we sympathise – but they must have affected him.

The rest is in the public domain.

On 26 June, Christopher Shale, Cameron’s local Conservative Party Chairman, was found dead in the public toilets at the Glastonbury Festival. What was all that about? Perhaps it was all perfectly natural, but it is a kind of weird way (and place) to go.

And it must have freaked out Cameron, which is what we are discussing here.

Politically, despite his apparent personal charm, Cameron has had a nightmare year.

Every Conservative Party member knows he should have strolled through the last Election with an overall majority. But the positive discrimination inflicted on the local parties left them with the selection of some pathetically weak candidates, way short of electable standards, leading to the loss of constituencies that all Conservatives know should have been won.

This led to the Coalition (which, in principle, I rather like). But, again, how weird has the Coalition been? ‘Bad luck’ has been a recurring theme.

David Laws resigned in disgrace after being caught fiddling his expenses and Chris Huhne can’t agree with his ex-wife over who drove the car home from Stansted – so his son’s phone has been seized by the police and Huhne faces a possible charge of perjury.

These are very strange events, dear reader, very strange events.

Cameron’s own Ministers have behaved equally strangely with u-turns and cock-ups right across the board in the NHS, welfare reforms and even forests.

And the cuts. Ahh, the heartless cuts. Riots in the streets for the first time in years. Humble teachers on strike for the first time ever. Royal cars attacked outside the Palladium. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury is revolting!

All this as a result of the cruel axe being wielded by George Osborne. You know, he who holidays off Corfu on a Rothschild yacht with Peter Mandelson. That’s the chap.

And then there’s Cameron himself. He personally led the charge into the ‘no-fly-zone’ against Libya. What on earth was he doing? See my previous posts.

It’s like there’s a bloke in your local pub who is a known nutter, beats people up and smashes the place to bits – so you nick his wallet and kill his kids. Why do that? What would you expect him to do in return?

Are we getting close to the truth now?

Is the inner David Cameron being revealed?

Could it be that he simply does not understand people – human beings?

This brings us back to the beginning and the state our country is in. Cameron has stated – very firmly – ‘I take full responsibility for everyone I employ, for everyone I appoint and for everything this Government does’.

So here goes.

According to Wikipedia, Steve Hilton met Cameron at Conservative Central Office, was praised by Maurice Saatchi and ‘came up with’ the infamous ‘demon eyes’ poster. Later, one of the most execrable pieces of communications material I have ever seen emerged through my front door – something to do with connecting the phrase ‘Broken Society’ to a motor car engine. What else has he done?

In 2008, after a ‘dispute’ at a railway station, Hilton was arrested and issued with a penalty notice for disorder which, I am led to believe by Wikipedia, may mean he has a criminal record.

As we now, Rebekah Brooks (known as Wade before she married her Etonian Charlie) was arrested last week-end. She was also arrested in 2005 after an alleged assault on her ex-husband Ross Kemp. Charges were dropped but what on earth was Cameron doing socialising with her? It was her job to smarm up to him, but it was his job NOT to.

Andy Coulson has been arrested too. ‘Hi, Andy, did you know about that hacking business’. ‘No’. Sure?’ Yes’. ‘Fine – fancy 275 grand a year?’. ‘That would be nice’.

Is this ‘leadership’? Isn’t leadership something to do with people?

It seems that Cameron simply cannot put the right people in the right place. He has no nous. He can’t smell a rat (and he seems to know a few).

I think I know the reason for this. I know some Etonians. And I know people who have been in the Bullingdon Club at Oxford. I know what some of them are like.

Years ago, a Bullingdon Club member asked me what I thought of one of the other chaps (an Etonian), and I said I felt his friend was a bit ‘plummy’. My friend replied: ‘he can’t help how he was brought up’.

These people have an arrogant smugness, a patrician manner, a sense of superiority. They don’t understand people from outside their ‘set’ because they don’t have to. They never meet them.

Thus Cameron is oblivious to the vast swathes of our community who detest him and everything he stands for. Each of them have a vote and will one day cause his downfall.

Just look at the way he behaves.

He is constantly reminding us of his role: ‘Since I became Prime Minister’ etc. How does he think this makes Nick Clegg feel? A more humble ‘since we came to power’ would be beneficial, but he would not get this. He was not brought up this way.

At PMQs last week, he received a reasonably positive press report. But did you see how he treated Rushanara Ali? Take it from me, it was a disgrace – arrogant, rude and unbelievably patronising.

In your office, there is no way you could treat anyone like that. It would be an unforgiveable, perhaps even instantly dismissable, offence. For most people watching, those outside the Wesminster Village to whom Rushanara Ali means nothing, this would have been the stand-out moment.

But, again, if you pointed this out to him, Cameron would not understand this.

And, where you work, is your CEO are surrounded by quite so many people who have been arrested, face criminal charges or have criminal records? Laws, Huhne, Hilton, Brooks, Coulson et al – THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

So, where does all this leave us? How do we evaluate ‘brand Cameron’.

First of all, please let me emphasise that I am not a party political animal. I am not a member of a political party. As I can demonstrate, I am politically ‘independent’.

But, having worked in the field of human behaviour all my career, and experienced more of ‘life’ than Cameron can dream of, I conclude that David Cameron is a snob.

He cannot help this. It does not make him evil.

Simply, he is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is cursed by his birth.

Because he has not lived in the ‘real world’, he simply does not understand people, and this is why most of the problems outlined above are his fault.

Great novelists do understand people. This is what makes them great novelists.

In his recent TV series ‘Faulks on Fiction’, Sebastian Faulks divided the entire canon of British literary novels into four characteristics: Heroes, Lovers, Snobs and Villains.

Under ‘Snobs’, this is what Faulks said about ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen:

“The thing about Emma is that, despite her intelligence and genuine desire to do good, she almost always gets it wrong.

And that is because the perspective of a snob is, by definition, skewed.

Like all snobs, she suffers from a vision defect – her failure to see the world clearly.

It is a question of focus.

The snob can’t see the wood from the trees, the individual for the group.

And, if it is not corrected, this defect can be dangerous.”

Ring a bell?

About Hugh Salmon

Business leader. Adman. Writer.
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