Sunday, 20 May 2012
The latest attention to David Cameron's leisure activities (this just in - he sort of plays tennis) surely marks, for sure, this time, the end of attention to ideology and the rise to complete centrality of valence politics in the UK. Valence usually refers to things like an image of governing competence and the positive vision of its leader. Now, we will have to add in the amount of hours they fill in their worksheets and the amount of crap pies that they eat while working. No doubt, we will now see various MPs accidentally leaking pictures of themselves in their offices, tie off, sleeves rolled up and looking incredibly pasty faced (see what I did there?) to show that they work hard. Or, they will go on the BBC or tweet on a Sunday to show how great they are. Time will tell what the British media wants - not quite Gordon Brown (who had the reputation for never leaving his office - prompting many to allege that he was going mad) but a lot more than David Cameron (maybe they want Margaret Thatcher, who allegedly rose to work at 4am, as if opening the doors for early deliveries at the local shop). I will only say two things. First, people are living in the past if they think that the actions of a UK Prime Minister are so crucial to British politics that they can never be away from the desk or the red button. Second, people who work very long hours with no breaks will make very bad decisions. People who get obsessed with the detail, and try to solve every problem and pay attention to everything, will burn out very quickly and/ or lose their ability to step back from situations and think about them before acting. So, for me, the image of David Cameron talking to his tennis machine (ooh, tough one Cleggy) is quite reassuring. I wrote this on Sunday morning.