Monday 5 April 2010

Cameron's Nixon pitch

I don't know if he fears getting sweaty under the television lights during the leaders' debates but David Cameron's opening pitch in election 2010 contains a clear echo of Richard Nixon's famous appeal to the "silent majority".

Here's Cameron, briefing tonight what he will say tomorrow:

"We're fighting this election for the great ignored. Young, old, rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight. They start businesses, operate factories, teach our children, clean the streets, grow our food and keep us healthy – keep us safe.

They work hard, pay their taxes, obey the law. They're good, decent people – they're the people of Britain and they just want a reason to believe that anything is still possible in our country. This election is about giving them that reason, giving them that hope."

Here's Nixon in 1969 coining the 'silent majority' argument.

One of the strengths of our free society is that any American has a right to reach that conclusion and to advocate that point of view. But as President of the United States, I would be untrue to my oath of office if I allowed the policy of this Nation to be dictated by the minority who hold that point of view and who try to impose it on the Nation by mounting demonstrations in the street.


And so tonight - to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans - I ask for your support.

Cameron suggests that he wants to use the "great ignored" theme as part of a hope campaign. However, the silent majority theme has been a consistent feature of right-wing appeals to anger and frustration over the last forty years, with the mood tending to significantly darken.

As Republican pollster Frank Luntz has observed:

"In the past, the unifying emotion was anxiety. Today, it is frustration. In the past, the lexicon expressed a mixture of fear and hope. Today, the lexicon is stark, dark, and bitter."

1 comment:

James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

One of Cameron's main pledges in this election will be to retain an electoral system which forces parties to focus on a handful of swing voters in marginal seats. It looks unlikely that he will get 40% of the popular vote, let alone a majority.

One thing he can't claim is to represent the silent majority; quite the opposite.