Editor’s note: references in the lead paragraph are to Conservative leader and Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberal Democrat and Deputy PM Nick Clegg, and Labour MP Ed Balls. (Correction: “Ed” is Ed Milliband)
Passion requires that you believe something. Dave, Ed and Nick don’t. It’s as simple as that. Trite orthodoxies and ever more policy bribes are not the stuff of political passion.
You will look hard in any of the three manifestos to find a statement of principles and values on which they could base a rallying cry or call to action.
In fact, it is a long time since any party leader spoke of either the morals or character traits needed to transform society or make the nation great. The ‘rights’ culture has killed off any such considerations.
The limited thinking and narrow individualism that define this culture of imposed conformity are impossible to enthuse about.
How can paternity leave or childcare hours summon up the blood or stiffen the sinews? These are gender ideology policies, they are not about the needs of the country let alone the good of children. No one is even threatening hospital closures or full privatisation to liven the election up. All we have been treated to are sterile and fake commitments, costed or uncosted it matters not, to the NHS behemoth to keep it lumbering on. No wonder this election is so lacklustre. What in this is there to get passionate about?
How can any of the main party leaders be passionate when they are so in hock to all this ideologically correct and mind-numbing conformity?
Sadly, we have no leader capable of seeing this, let alone how bad it is for the national psyche, and challenging it. Apart from [UK Independence Party leader] Nigel Farage possibly. But he has yet to step up to the plate of fighting the culture war full on. He has yet to give a speech about what our country and people need with the passionate authenticity of the Prime Minister of Australia’s speech at Gallipoli last weekend, when he honoured the Australian dead, spoke of what their sacrifice meant and how the current generation must prove themselves worthy of it.
I cannot even begin to imagine managerial Dave in such declamatory mode. I am sure he would think it was old fashioned. But he would be wrong to and that thinking is what is wrong with his campaign. Be we ever so modern, we still crave such reaffirmation of past courage, sacrifice and selflessness from our politicians.
This was the crux of Tony Abbott’s very fine – and indeed emotional –speech marking the hundred years since Gallipoli.
This speech could not have demonstrated more the gulf between the principles that Abbott still holds dear and that guide his politics – values of duty, perseverance and selflessness which he so clearly feels the need to exhort — and the small-minded, rights-obsessed navel-gazing of our party leaders.
The qualities that the Anzacs demonstrated, whether they were “tradesmen, clerks, labourers, farmers and professionals”, meant that, “ordinary men did extraordinary things”, Abbott said. But he did not stop there: “They did their duty; now, let us do ours. They gave us an example; now, let us be worthy of it.”
Oh, how I long to hear one of our politicians speak like this.
This, Dave, represents passion; not saying that you are “pumped up for the rest of the campaign”. No wonder his attempt to convince fell flat.
Don’t just read my lips, Dave, read this speech and inwardly digest – here’s an extract for tasters:
So much has changed in one hundred years, but not the things that really matter.
Duty, selflessness, moral courage: always these remain the mark of a decent human being.
They did their duty; now, let us do ours.
They gave us an example; now, let us be worthy of it.
They were as good as they could be in their time; now, let us be as good as we can be in ours.
Here’s a speech to fire you up. Yes, a speech like that might have done the trick for Cameron – he could have stood out beyond the politics of grievance and resentment – encouraging us to move from its selfishness to selflessness.
But truth is that it would indeed be a U-turn from the shallow bribe mentality of a government that believes its remit extends only to what it must promise next to do for its ever demanding and infantalised populace – a mentality that characterises all three main party manifestos.
It would need Dave to care – and there are plenty of things to care about – but in his service-delivery obsession he cannot see them. If he cared about the marriage crisis for our children he would have something to be passionate about for starters. But he understands this no more than Ed Balls, who would get rid of that token transferable allowance altogether that he scoffed about yesterday. Without understanding, there can be no caring. Without caring there can be no passion
Kathy Gyngell is Co-Editor of The Conservative Woman, where this article was first published. It is reproduced here with permission.