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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Marketing Manger,Mill Hill,London

To £55kpa (12 Month Contract): Charter Selection: Major household name charity...

Project Co-ordinator/Administrator - Central London

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Head of Digital Marketing, Hampstead,London

To £55kpa (12 Month Contract): Charter Selection: Major household name charity...

Business Developer - Scotland

£40000 Per Annum Plus Package + Bonus: The Green Recruitment Company: The Gree...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Here's a  

Why shouldn't a gay couple be able to have their cake and eat it too?

Louise Scodie
Public sector workers march through Newcastle city centre as they take part in the one-day walkout as part of bitter disputes over pay, pensions, jobs and spending cuts  

The Government’s attitude to the civil service is breathtaking hypocrisy

Chris Blackhurst
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil