Mantel said what? David Cameron's defence of Kate Middleton shows the dangers of a diet of sound bites

Why couldn't Cameron's SPADS have read the piece if he wanted to talk about it?

Share
Related Topics

Hoo-ray for the Prime Minister! By 11:30 this morning the Twitter-steam over Hilary Mantel’s speech on Kate Middleton had more or less drifted off, with a majority of people happy to admit the initial reaction (“a vile and venomous slander!”) was the product of lazy reading. Then, speaking in India, where apparently time differences always put you a few hours behind public opinion, Mr Cameron saw fit to move on from seeking trade agreements with a rising global power in order to condemn a novelist's opinion in the most strident of terms: “what she [Mantel] said about Kate Middleton is completely misguided”, he blustered.  “We should be proud of [Kate]…not make misguided remarks”.

Any expectation that Mr Cameron show the nuance of a literary critic is clearly asking too much. But it is in cases like this the politician’s usual diet of sound bites proves itself most inadequate. As has already been pointed out, the chances Mr Cameron settled down this morning to read through Mantel’s 5,600 word piece are slim to microscopic.( I’m not Prime Minister and I still haven’t). Instead, he likely glanced at any pickled selection of quotations (“In those days she was a shop-window mannequin”… “What does Kate read?”) and concluded, in the manner of a man used to analysing on the hoof, that this Mantel (good writer, never make a politician…) required a telling-off from the person with the highest office in Britain.

Two things spring to mind: One, Cameron obviously has no need to stick his nose in, and his decision to plough ahead anyway implies a desire to toady up to Wills and Kate. Second, and more worryingly, if the PM thought he might stick his neck out, he surely has a team of SPADs who could spare the half-hour to read Mantel's piece, inform him of its various subtleties, and stop him before he said anything stupid. Or they could simply have checked Twitter and aggregated the opinions of others (there's no great secret to it...).

None of this happened, though. So we're left with the comic and queasy spectacle of a Prime Minister telling us what to think without having done a whole lot of thinking himself - a privilege only afforded to those of us who don't hold public office. "Misguided" sounds about right, wouldn't you say?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US  

The 'caliphate'? We’ve heard Obama’s language of the Crusades before

Robert Fisk
 

Next they'll say an independent Scotland can't use British clouds...

Mark Steel
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan