Yes, I’m talking to you

16 January 2011 0

David Mitchell in today’s Observer is having a go at Nick Clegg’s appeal to ‘alarm clock Britain’. He has a go at working out whom Clegg is referring to, and concludes that it’s everyone “between dukes and tramps”:

All those people who feel tired and busy and like they could do with some more money, and who don’t want to pay too much tax on the money they’ve got, but want to know that the public services that are important to them are being protected. Do you know the sort of people I mean? Not people like Richard Branson. Or benefit cheats. Just, you know, everyone else.

This kind of approach – Clegg appealing to “alarm clock Britain”, Miliband to “the squeezed middle” or any politician to “hard-working families” – is maddening because it’s inane. These terms are meaningless. It’s trying to classify people according to their own estimation of their contribution to society. “Do you sometimes feel exhausted and conscientious?” Yes, almost everyone does, including dyed-in-the-wool slackers and hypochondriacs. “Then it’s you we’re here to help!”

This reminds me of the election campaign, when all the parties kept saying they were about “fairness”, as if the other guy was going to respond by setting out the case for unfairness. This sort of guff is rife in politics and it really gets on my nerves. Do these people just spend their time dreaming up new ways of not having to really say or stand for anything?


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