Wednesday, 22 July 2009

back to broken basics

Is there a better name for a blog than The Bleeding Heart Show? Neil Robertson's self-confessed 'liberal-left' blog takes the challenge that all of us should face - thinking like a Tory.

Neil compares Cameron's 'broken society' rhetoric with the pronouncements, and occasional policies of John Major's Back to Basics era. Wary of the way in which Major set standards that members of his Cabinet failed to meet, Cameron is being far more specific about a set of societal ills that afflict only a small part of the population.

How broken is society? What has caused those ills, to what extent are we all responsible? Who was Number One in the Charts when Major gave that speech? Amidst the laughable hypocrisy of Back to Basics and cones hotlines, I remember one speech from Major that resonated with me then, and continues to appeal.

In the middle of a speech full of eulogies for nuns on bicycles and warm beer (remember that one?) Major called for a gentler society. He never expanded on this, but, strip away the nostalgia for an age that was far more violent than golden, he may have been onto something.

Could gentleness become an all-encompassing political philosophy? In a faster, frantic modern world, what does gentleness look like? The Young Foundation's latest report on Civility may well provide some fresh, gentle thinking on this issue. For now, the only answer I have is that, in September 1993, Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince was Number One, with 'Boom Boom Shake The Room.'

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