Tough on the rich as well as the poor
David Cameron is in danger of missing the mood, which is curious for a leader so well attuned to the “musicality” of politics, as one of his back benchers put it to me. He writes about responsibility in the Mail on Sunday today (scroll down), but notably fails to mention the responsibilities of the rich – bankers, Bullingdon Club or just bourgeois.
This is the subject of The Independent on Sunday’s leading article, which points out that many Conservative MPs of the new intake sound like members of Labour’s Campaign Group in their attacks on the irresponsibility of the highly-paid, often linking it explicitly to that of the looters in the August riots.
And it is the subject of Matthew d’Ancona’s excellent column for The Sunday Telegraph which, although he brazenly flouts my ruling that “tough love” is on the Banned List, makes the essential point well. The Prime Minister got it wrong on Radio 4’s Today programme last week:
What Cameron should have said on Today is that anyone in the Bullingdon Club who breaks the law deserves punishment every bit as tough as the Brixton rioter. That was the correct and obvious answer to [Evan] Davis’s probing, and the fact that he didn’t say as much was ever so slightly alarming. The PM likes to declare that it doesn’t matter where you come from, but where you are heading, which is a nice slogan, but light years distant from political reality. If Cameron is serious about tackling social breakdown – and I believe he is – he cannot make such slips.
Tagged in: david cameron, inequality, Riots
I am not saying that interning the present members of the Bullingdon should be his Clause Four, appealing as the idea is. And to be fair to the PM, he has long insisted that “we are all in this together” and, as if to prove the point, taken considerable political risks in his treatment of the affluent. But he does need to make it absolutely, categorically clear that the “tough” component of all this “tough love” will not be reserved for the poor.
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