Sigmund Freud would have a field day and David Cameron must be kicking himself. All that hard work and then you let a truth slip out that you’ve tried so hard to keep covered up.
On Wednesdays when Parliament is in session, the Prime Minister (unless otherwise engaged) has a half-hour session called ‘Prime Minister’s Questions’, or PMQs. There’s a reason they don’t call it Prime Minister’s Answers – Cameron will never actually answer a question he’s been asked by the opposition if he can avoid it, and sometimes the circumlocutions, non-sequiturs and tortured phraseology he’ll use to try to make it sound like an answer without actually addressing the issue raised are enough to give me a headache,
But just occasionally, the pain can be worth it. Yesterday, David Cameron suffered a classic Freudian slip – you know, those moments when you mean to say one thing, but something else slips out that gives away your real feelings or opinion. It was so good that it seemed worth sharing.
David Cameron was trying to make up down, and black white, trying to ridicule Ed Miliband’s accusation that the Tories’ tax policies are hitting ordinary people hardest. Here’s the passage in question, which you can read in full on the Hansard record:
He has obviously got a short memory, because I explained to him last week that under his plans for the 50p tax rate, millionaires paid £7 billion less in tax than they did previously. The point of raising taxes is to pay for public services. We are raising more money for the rich, but where he is really so profoundly wrong is in the choice that he has decided to make.
Yes, you read that right: ‘raising more money for the rich’. According to Hansard, the official record of Parliamentary goings-on, the Prime Minister said his party is raising more money for the rich. ‘Surely,’ I thought, ‘that can’t be right – he must have said ‘from’!’
But no – I just listened to it on BBC Parliament, where I’d recorded it yesterday, and that’s exactly what he says. If you want to listen for yourself, look here, from about the 8:38 mark.
We’ve seen Cameron’s temper before – how he turns bright red and yells if he’s feeling vulnerable, a classic bully-boy reaction. But it’s clear that it’s not the only way that his self-control can slip. The truth, as they say, will out – and clearly this particular truth has been bubbling under the surface like the Old Faithful geyser, just waiting for its moment.
Well, they also say that confession is good for the soul, so perhaps Cameron’s soul feels a little easier today. Assuming he has one. Hopefully, it’s not good for his and his party’s electoral chances, though – so spread the word.