Alex Massie

The Great Ignored

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Sunder Katwala thinks that Dave's talk of the "Great Ignored" carries echos of Nixon's "Silent Majority"; Hopi Sen doesn't much care for the phrase either and wonders why Cameron didn't go for Chesterton or Kipling instead. This seems sound advice though I wonder if eloquence and allusion can carry a message these days without being seen as hopelessly elitist or, worse, pompous and artificial. Rhetoric, I fancy, is mistrusted. 

Anyway, this is part of what Cameron had to say:

"We're fighting this election for the great ignored. Young, old, rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight. They start businesses, operate factories, teach our children, clean the streets, grow our food and keep us healthy – keep us safe.

They work hard, pay their taxes, obey the law. They're good, decent people – they're the people of Britain and they just want a reason to believe that anything is still possible in our country. This election is about giving them that reason, giving them that hope."


There may indeed be potential in some of the Tories plans for loosening the demands the state imposes upon us - whether we run a business, volunteer at a local club, help out at the church fete or any number of other things - but let us not leap to any happy conclusions. Verify then trust. And verify again just to be safe. Or safer.

Because for all the talk of a post-bureaucratic age and for all that the Conservatives make noises about stemming the tide of regulation and form-filling and inspecting and busy-bodying that so infuriates so many folk whenever they come into contact with the long arm of the state, it also remains the case that they're rarely happier than when bashing libertarian-ish ideals and one suspects* that too many of their ideas are less friendly than they may initially seem.

Certainly, as I've mentioned before, they seem terribly keen on "Nudging" the electorate and nudging is really just a daintier form of shoving. What about the people who wish to remain un-nudged and un-shoved and who, contra Hopi Sen, would quite happily be part of the Great Ignored? It seems to me that Dave is promising not to ignore anyone which, in turn, seems neither a limited nor a modest goal.

The Great Ignored? Chance would be a mighty fine thing!

*Perhaps this is an unworthy suspicion. Perhaps...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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