Monday, May 03, 2010

A green hill far away

When Cameron speaks of Britain’s ‘atomised’ and ‘broken’ society, and calls for a return to a ‘broad culture of responsibility, mutuality and obligation’, or Blond writes about the ‘revival of the associative society’, in which the ‘common good’ is ‘cultivated organically from within’, it’s Ambridge that they have in mind. The rhetoric of both men seems to be shot through with plaintive rural nostalgia for the small, self-contained life of the village; for a world where ‘frontline services’ are ‘delivered’ from within the community by the church, the WI and the Over Sixties Club, where no one dies unnoticed by his neighbours, the pub serves as a nightly local parliament, ‘ethos’ is reinforced by the vicar in the pulpit of St Stephen’s and ‘mutuality’ flourishes in the gossip at the shop. In the Ambridge I remember, everybody pulled together to win the Borsetshire Best Kept Village competition; in Cameron’s new Britain, he promises to appoint himself to the chairmanship of the Best Kept Nation committee.
In which Jonathan Raban skewers Cameron's mentor; readers in New Zealand might care to note how similar the Blond ambition is to the inter-generational family rhetoric of the Maxim Institute. Look carefully and you might also see a likeness in Tariana Turia's Maori welfare surveillance state, where agencies will work  together and with community leaders to keep an eye on the clients. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, 'compassionate conservatism.' I strongly recommend Johann Hari's recent scathing "Welcome to Cameron-Land" c/o his website, for a scathing expose of the Tories at Hammersmith and Fulham Council for that little cliche...

Craig Y