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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Seven per cent of young men have recently stopped using deodorant  

‘Sweaty-gate’ leaves a bad smell for PRs and journalists

Danny Rogers
Alison Parker and Adam Ward: best remembered before tragedy  

The only way is ethics: Graphic portraits of TV killings would upset many, not just our readers in the US

Will Gore
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory