Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Calm Down Dave, you're only a Loser

One of the most annoying things about recent Prime Ministers was that too often it was sometimes possible to find oneself liking them. Gordon Brown got a lot of stick from the foaming-at-the-mouth Tory tendency, but if you were in any sense a halfway decent person you couldn't help but feel sorry for him, trying to pick up the ruins of the British economy after his predecessor, Tony Blair, had scarpered as soon as he saw the going get tough. Blair himself led us into an illegal war in an effort to ingratiate himself with possibly the worst American President since Nixon   of all time, but the slimy little bastard had a weird kind of charm that could sneak up on you unexpectedly and trick you into liking him. John Major is remembered chiefly for liking garden peas and shagging Edwina Currie, but had the disarming advantage of not being Margaret Thatcher, which caused a sense of relief so profound it actually won him an election. You have to look back to Thatcher for a PM so utterly demonic as to be genuinely hated, and even then there was the occasional guilty feeling that those of us on the left should kind of admire her for being the first (and so far only) woman to achieve the British premiership.

David Cameron, however, is rapidly proving himself to be the heir to Thatcher in more than ideology, as almost his every public utterance cements himself more strongly as the first Prime Minister in over a decade you can really hate. Today's news from Prime Ministers' Questions shows that he doesn't even have Thatcher's rudimentary feminist bonafides. As the 'Political Scrapbook' blog puts it:

David Cameron is presumably now regretting telling Angela Eagle “Calm down, dear” during heated exchanges on the NHS. Her shadow treasury team colleague Ed Balls was certainly not impressed, repeatedly calling upon the prime minister to apologise.

The media are treating this petulant outburst from the supposedly-relaxed Call-me-Dave as something out of character - in fact it's anything but. Cameron has form for losing his rag at the despatch box. Mirror Journalist James Lyons reports here on Cameron calling Ed balls 'the most irritating man in British politics' (a statement which suggests an astonishing lack of self-awareness on Dave's part) and also belittling a hard-working backbench Labour MP by telling him he had 'absolutely no idea who you are'.

This is just a taste. Over at The Green Ribbon Tom Griffin has a detailed list of Cameron's strops. Of particular interest in Griffin's list is this piece by Telegraph journalist David Hughes which finds the columnist wondering if Cameron is a bit of a 'Bullingdon bully' way back in November of last year; and this exchange reported on BBC Democracy live in which Ed Milliband turns the tables on Cameron's sneering description of Milli-E as a 'student politician' by pointing out that when the Labour leader was a student he 'was not hanging around with people who were throwing bread rolls and wrecking restaurants.'

So we can see that the bad temper displayed in by Cameron today was hardly out of character. And, as Lisa Ansell observes in her takedown of the welfare reform bill, neither is the misogyny which he displayed to Angela Eagle. Cameron's government is closing Sure Start centres, handing anti-sex-trafficking cash to the homophobic and transphobic Salvation Army rather than the well-respected Poppy Project, and undermining the Public Sector Equality Duty and womens' right to choose. It's no wonder Cameron has now resorted to telling women to 'calm down' - given his government's policies, it's nothing short of a miracle that women aren't hurling firebombs in the streets (then again, given his government's economic policy, they probably can't afford the petrol).

Watching the video of Cameron's performance, it's rather a pathetic sight, really - reminiscent of Cameron's fellow Tory (and misogynist) David Starkey losing control of his class on Jamie's Dream School after insulting a fat kid. But is it really any wonder that Cameron grows more and more aggressive and insufferable? After all, as we've documented here, there 's a steadily-increasing drip-drip-drip of voices reminding the electorate - and Cameron himself - that despite all the advantages he had going into the 2010 election, he still couldn't deliver the Tory landslide everybody predicted. For someone as arrogant and entitled as Dave, that has to eat away at him, reminding him again and again of his own inadequacies, his own failures, his own lack of fitness for the job.

So is it really any wonder that these days the only way Dave can feel like a Winner is by pretending to be Michael?

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