Tough on the rich as well as the poor

John Rentoul

dc 165x300 Tough on the rich as well as the poorDavid 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.

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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  • porkfright

    Is “musicality of politics” merely a euphemism for spin?

  • Guest

    I am not the product of private school or university. My background is working class. So I hold no brief for the Bullingdon boys, and the little I know about them has been gleaned from newspaper reports and the opening pages of Decline and Fall. But surely the difference between their behaviour, reprehensible though it was, and for all I know still is, they paid for the damage they caused during their oafish pranks? The rioters had no intention of doing so.

    Forced to chose between being governed by David Cameron or George Osborne who in their university days swaggered in Bullingdon Club attire, or Ed Balls who in his university days let off steam in Nazi officer’s uniform, despite being fully aware of the atrocities perpetrated by past wearers, I would have little hesitation in plumping for the Bullingdon boys.

    And come to think about it, while we still read a great deal from left-wing journalists about the antics of the Tories’ embodiment of Sir Alastair Digby-Vaine-Trumpington, they are remarkably coy about commenting on those of Labour’s answer to ‘Allo! ‘Allo!’s Lieutenant Gruber. I wonder why that is?

  • thetruthatlast53

    We need to face facts there is a massive divide in this country between the haves and the have nots, hence the social unrest we have seen and probably will see more.
    The reasons for this is the divide is still widening because there is growing belief that the poor get criminalised whilst the wealthy do not, even if they did get prosecuted they can afford the law the poor can not.
     The law needs to apply to all irrespective of there social class, but as the upper class system runs on the old boy network this will never happen, and the problem with this is that people will turn to the more extreme political party’s, which can only breed more social unrest.
    I too am working class and proud of it and work for a living but like many others feel i have no voice in this capitalist society we live in.
    I do not condone rioting in order to be herd, but we are at a stage in this country where peaceful protest is not possible because it is infiltrated by subversives, we have to be careful how we comment as the stupidity of the Facebook idiots tells us.
    The home office is now banning protests in London how long before the rest of England if people can not protest how are they to be herd, PLEASE  do not say the ballot box because that is a shear waste of time we have no rights in our own country. we can not even celebrate our own religious festivals for fear of offending others the whole system is a joke 

  • KiWE John

    thetruthatlast53, I really empathise with you, and I also have heard reliable reports of subversive agitators. The majority of the participants of the riots were youths, under 24 years – they can’t get a job, they can’t see a respectable future, they are frustrated and they are crying out in the only way left to them – taking out their frustrations on the environment which has brought them to this state. We need to rectify this as soon as we can, and we need to work on a global basis with all other countries to solve this problem, because the whole world is now interconnected. Lack of jobs for the young in Spain, Italy and Greece is threatening to blow the European Union apart. The older generation (of which I am one) need to realise that we are to blame as much as (or maybe more than) them. We have failed to educate them properly and provide them with the environment and the opportunity to earn a living. Only a world-wide solution can be lasting. 

  • hyperbola2

    David Cameron is not “missing” anything. Cameron, like Blair before him, is a puppet hired by a corrupt elite to play political theater while guaranteeing the ongoing privilege and power of that “elite” at the expense of the general population. 

    It is not for nothing that the UK still has strong residues of feudalism (can anyone name another capital city in the world where a feudal landlord STILL controls a major portion of the capital city?). It is not for nothing that the UK has one of the lowest social mobility (getting ahead by working hard and well) quotients in the world. Cameron and his ilk are hired to see that it remain so. 

  • laughingravy

    I think secretly you working class boy really envies the bullington buffoons !!  Your 3rd in line to the throne also likes to fancy dress up in Nazi attire at parties.    

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