I am really not sure what to make of this article in Uncle Rupert’s Times today. When I first saw the headline plastered over the free morning shitsheets on the tube this morning, I thought that just maybe, Tory Leader David Cameron had taken a step too far in his belligerent, wealthy-folks-oriented conservatism and would get a well-deserved whack for it. The title of the article is “David Cameron tells the fat and the poor: take responsibility”, and remarkably enough, the title is in fact a fairly accurate synopsis of what Cameron is reported as saying:
In a conscious shift of strategy, the Tory leader said he would not shirk from discussing public morality and claimed that social problems were often the consequence of individuals’ choices. “We talk about people being ‘at risk of obesity’ instead of talking about people who eat too much and take too little exercise,” he said. “We talk about people being at risk of poverty, or social exclusion: it’s as if these things — obesity, alcohol abuse, drug addiction — are purely external events like a plague or bad weather.
Of course, this being the Times, these comments are described matter-of-factly in the article, with nary a hint that just perhaps Cameron’s comments are controversial, or for some, offensive. Certainly what we have an example of here is the rhetoric of individualism taken to yet another fanciful extreme, the prejudices of an arrogant upper-class twat fashioned crudely into a faux-bold pronouncement. I don’t believe it to be true that modern society makes individuals feel blameless for their various predicaments, as Cameron seems to be suggesting. If anything, both Britain and Australia have over the last couple of decades moved away from being societies where one’s rights towered over one’s responsibilities, to societies where the balance between one’s rights and responsibilities are more evenly (and perhaps, more effectively) poised.
It is interesting that Cameron is all for heaping responsibilities onto individuals who may or may not have the capacity to solve their problems on their own, but does not seem to be very interested in the responsibilities of society. Moreover, is it not true that society has a responsibility to lend individuals a helping hand when they fall foul (whether partly or wholly through their own hand) of afflictions like poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, or obesity? Isn’t it not just the individual that has failed when this scenario unfolds, but society itself? What is clear from these sorts of questions is that conservatives like Cameron seem to lack the very basic human ability of taking a walk around the block in someone else’s shoes. Not everyone grows up in a wealthy family, with excellent parents and a good understanding of how to play the 21st century economic game to perfection. Not everyone emerges, blinking, into the light of the global economy at 18, ready to plug in with a metaphorical USB cable dangling from the back of their skull. I don’t see why we should be surprised that people who come from difficult backgrounds might struggle to make the right decisions in their lives, perhaps leading to some of these afflictions taking hold.
The people of Great Britain would do well to remember at the next election that a vote for David Cameron is a vote against the sorts of people right across the kingdom who need a helping hand. If you are thin, white, rich, and don’t give a shit about other people, the Tories are making it damned well clear with comments like this that they are your party.