Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The silent majority (slight return)

As pointed out on Today this morning, Cam Cam's invocation of the 'great ignored' recalls another rhetorical trope of right-of-centre heavyweight politician: Richard Nixon's 'silent majority'.

Leave aside the electoral conundrums of whether it works or not; it's interesting for three other reasons:

1) Nixon saying 'silent majority' worked because, palpably, he was one of them - rarely has a US politician been such an outsider (see Garry Wills' magisterial Nixon Agonistes for full confirmation of this.) Cam Cam is many things, but outsider he most definitely isn't, and for him to suggest he can speak for the ignored might be stretching credulity a bit.

2) More pertinently, to what extent do the Tories want to be seen to be taking rhetorical cues from, and let us be generous here, not the sunniest politician ever. Not for nothing was he associated with the 'paranoid style' in US politics, which would seem to be an odd place for the optimistic, happy, courageous Conservative party to be in. Which suggests that:

3) The re-branding of the party of is merely that, a re-branding, rather than a fundamental change. I mean, it's not too much of a leap to go from 'great ignored' to 'Are you thinking what we're thinking?' After all, the implication is that the Tories are thinking - and saying - exactly what's on the minds of the ignored; precisely those topics that they, as outsiders, never have a hope of getting on to the political/media agenda. (And of course Cam Cam was the author of the 2005 manifesto.)

It is, fundamentally, oddly negative language to be coming from what's meant to be a positive party.

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