Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Does David Cameron read my column?

Last Thursday, in my new(ish) column in the North West Enquirer, I made the following observation about the changing terms of the political debate.

"Other concerns are slowly coming to the fore.....most fundamentally of all, perhaps, the rise of the so-called “happiness” agenda – the idea that the first duty of governments should be to promote the emotional well-being of their citizens, even if this is at the expense of economic growth."

Yesterday Tory leader David Cameron, who may very well read the Enquirer since he has already featured in a front-page story and interview, said the following in a keynote speech.

"It's time we admitted that there's more to life than money, and it's time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB - general well-being. Improving our society's sense of well-being is, I believe, the central political challenge of our times."

Seriously, I think Cameron's attempt to claim the "happiness agenda" is a potentially incredibly significant development in terms of the political battles of the next few years.

His reference yesterday to there being more to life than the "Protestant Work Ethic" is a direct dig at his likely election opponent Gordon Brown who the Tories see as obsessed with work and regulation whereas they want to be identified with wellbeing and relaxation.

In my Enquirer column, I also made the prediction that, as we enter the twilight of the Blair era, the party which best manages to tap into this changing public agenda will be the one that ultimately emerges as the dominant force of the next decade or so.

Well so far, it's 1-0 to Mr Cameron.


stalin's gran said...

Re Headline: No offence, but I doubt it. He might talk a bit more sense if he did.

skipper said...

You may be right Paul, about the zeitgeist and all that, but Dave's foray has provoked quite a few negative reactions in the rightwing press and there is no guarantee that this 'happiness' thing is part of the new agenda, as opposed to climate change which most definitely is.

dizzy said...

All I can think about is bloody Jeremy Bentham now. Cheers!

Sabretache said...

My rhune-reading says you're right too - about the Zeitgeist thing that is

An electorate that sees the function of government as to promote happiness? God help us!

There are still those of us who want nothing more than for government (in all its myriad hectoring, moralising, interfering, lecturing, regulating, banning, 'nanny-knows-best' manifestations) to simply get off our backs and attend to the things that it, and only it CAN attend to though - principally the defence of the realm and law enforcement.

But no point fighting the Zeitgeist eh? - It's like trying to fart against thunder.

Reading the economic, globalisation, peak energy rhunes though - Looks like the whole shebang is heading for the buffers big time. Wonder what the Zeitgeist will morph into then?