September 3rd, 2015


A Beat Behind

Politicians have a choice; they can lead opinion or they can reflect it. Most democratic politicians these days are reflectors- and that's one of the reasons we despise them so. We look for leadership and all we get is our own stale opinions beamed back at us- and we think, "Well, I could have said that only probably more trenchantly." It's why politicians who challenge the prevailing mood do so well-  Nigel Farage a year ot two back, Jeremy Corbyn now. It's the vision thing. If our leaders can't see further than we do then what's the point of them?

David Cameron- the reflector's reflector- got caught out yesterday. He thought he was reflecting the public mood on migrants but the mood was changing even as he spoke and he was just a beat behind. He said- looking rubicundly prosperous as he always does- that Britain couldn't possibly do more to help with the refugee crisis and his picture and windy opinion appeared on the same pages that were headlining pictures to a dead baby being lifted from the sea at Bodrum. The public mood is fickle and fleeting and a single image can deflect it and bounce it off on another trajectory. Mr Cameron is now left having to defend or disavow a policy the British people consider heartless.