It can’t have escaped many people’s notice that the Conservative lexicon has taken a self-consciously ‘laid back’ flavour of late, due in no small part, one suspects, to the influence of leather-clad spin guru Steve Hilton. ( Exhibit one: Cameron aides claiming he was very chilled out/ ‘relaxed’ about Quentin Davies’ defection.) The Tory Leader has also taken to sporting analogies, claiming in last week’s Sunday Times he’s ‘really up for’ an election, and that the race is still ‘wide open’.
But whereas back in 1997 informality was a key element of Campbell-crafted ‘Cool Britannia’ (‘cool’ of course, being a highly ambivalent term) the Tories appear to have cottoned on to this idea about a decade too late.
While Cameron and his minions are striving to emulate the lingo of the hoodies they want to hug, Gordon Brown, by contrast, sounds like a firm puritan uncle: reprimanding celebrities like Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse for setting a ‘bad example’, and talking about his own ‘moral compass’. And on present polling evidence, this has struck a better chord with voters.
What’s more, one can’t imagine Cameron’s new vocab sitting too well with members of his own party – much in the way many new Conservative policy ideas don’t either. Speaking outside the conference in Blackpool yesterday, Conservative MP Nigel Evans dismissed some of John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith’s new green initiatives as ‘barking mad’. But in the same breath, the Right Honorable Member went on to claim that policy should pass a ‘pub test’. The madness, it seems, is catching……