Cameron on Corbyn’s dress sense: Upper-class snobbery at its finest
The left is having to have a conversation about what the labor movement should actually mean - and irrespective of the fact that it goes by the name ‘Labour Party.’ At the same time, the arrogance of the prime minister and the section of society and interests that he represents has become ever more bold.
As a result, the Prime Minister's Question Time [PMQs], the weekly showdown between the two ideologically opposed views (not parties as there is still much internal division within Labour over Corbyn’s election) has become ever more comical, revealing the deep class antagonisms at the heart of UK politics that underpin the political establishment and the inequality it perpetuates.
This week, during a debate over the NHS, Cameron’s comments were revealing as they so often are when responding in the heat of the moment. They serve as a microcosm of UK politics as a whole, and offer some interesting insights.
David Cameron has received much criticism of late after it was revealed that his own mother signed a petition opposing her son’s plans to cut child care provision.
Maybe it was due to this embarrassing revelation that caused Cameron, in a heated dispute with the Labour leader, to say that his own mother would tell Corbyn to “put on a suit, do up his tie, and sing the national anthem” and despite her personal feelings about her son’s politics.
Corbyn responded by saying that his own mother believed in “A health service free for all at the point of use” a position which is ideologically opposed to David Cameron’s plans to practically outsource every public service, including the NHS, to the wondrous equality of the free market.
The exchange was not long, but was nonetheless revealing. But who can blame Cameron for such a brazen and honest remark? He was merely flaunting his true colors, and why wouldn’t he? The political establishment has essentially persuaded the working class to vote for them and austerity, so why would he refrain from making such a classist snub? EU referendum aside, Cameron must really think he is home free.
The UK PM has had one embarrassment heaped on him after another over the last few months and yet he has so far survived. He even managed to survive the public revelations that he once stuck a private part of his person into a pig’s mouth. Again, perhaps after learning of the many misdemeanors connected to his party - sex abuse, financial scandals, and the like - Cameron’s own actions probably seem like a drop in the ocean.
But telling the leader of the opposition to smarten his appearance and sing the national anthem cuts right to the heart of who Cameron is and the cloth he is cut from.
The Prime Minister is from and represents a privileged circle in politics - people who went to the same schools, where there is an emphasis on glorifying pomp, coupled with an innate love and adoration for the British Empire.
David Cameron’s government of millionaires still believe that it is the duty of the civilized West to go and govern other people in other people’s countries. They also evidently believe that they have a moral duty to expound these values unto the British people. Moreover, Cameron and his clique still believe that they can dictate the terms of debate over what it means to be a patriot, hence his remark about the national anthem, which implores God to “Save the Queen”.
The institution of monarchy is profoundly undemocratic as the Queen is unelected, and neither Queen Elizabeth nor her family can be removed at the ballot box.
The Royal Family are not even of British origin, so Cameron telling Corbyn to sing the national anthem at once reveals both the flawed nature of British democracy, while also expressing his adoration for it - a contradiction in terms if we are to adhere to the true meaning of democracy. Cameron is in no moral or political position to lecture others about what democracy means.
Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership by a landslide, and has a clear democratic mandate from the people of Britain on two main issues; a rejection of neo-liberal austerity and a rejection of neo-liberal wars overseas. Cameron mocking Corbyn, with Corbyn having such a strong public mandate, is the same as Cameron mocking the people.
If there was a general election tomorrow with both the name Cameron on it and Corbyn, there is little doubt Corbyn would beat him. It was good strategy and Labour infighting and flip flopping over the economy which gave Cameron his election victory. A more unified and clear platform from the left with a leader who was actually of the left (Ed Miliband dubbed ‘Red Ed’ was laughable as his polices were barley centre left) would have presented a bigger obstacle to Cameron.
Cameron can mock Corbyn all he likes, but Corbyn, whatever criticisms we may have of his leadership so far, represents a profound break from the kind of politics which Cameron represents and which he echoes with his establishment sound bites.
It’s hard to judge just how many Brits who are working class have fallen for this line as David Cameron’s own mandate is built on the slimmest of parliamentary majorities with a low voter turnout.
But sooner or later the British people will begin to reframe what it means to be a patriot and to love ones country. It’s maddening and infuriating that thus far they have been fooled into believing in the glory of the establishment. Eventually however, they will see that these ideals have never been and can never be represented by David Cameron or find a natural home with the Tories.
People who use food banks, single mothers, people with disabilities, people struggling to find work, junior doctors, firefighters, teachers, nurses and trade unionists to name a handful, will not give a stuff what clothes the Prime Minister wears, nor whether he professes love for a Queen who wears a diamond encrusted hat with jewels stolen from Africa. They will care about the policies which are being represented.
The general election is a long way off, but in the meantime as long as the Tories push through their agenda, class antagonisms will become further entrenched. Cameron’s contempt is to be expected. I can’t blame Cameron for being Cameron any more than I can blame a tree for being a tree. Cameron and his plastic corporate regime know who they are, what they represent and as a result won the election.
The left need to decide whether their loyalty is to more neo-liberal economics, or to an actual unified and viable labour movement. This will be the battleground at the next election, as more and more cracks continue to appear in David Cameron’s credibility.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.