That's how it seems it's been with David Cameron's dog whistle. We saw it lots in the run up to the election, when he was talking about how burglars should have no human rights, or when he was on about immigration for example. But apart from a few moments like the one where he said the thought of prisoners getting the vote made him sick, he's not been as bad in recent months.
However, it looks like the dog whistle which has presumably been hidden in a packing crate in Downing Street since May is back in service again. I feel deeply uneasy about some aspects of the speech he gave today. I'm linking to the actual full transcript on the Downing Street website so you can read the whole thing for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
I liked the fact that he went out of his way to talk about how Islam the religion and Islamist extremism, the political ideology are not the same thing but then he ruined it all by saying that "Someone can be a devout Muslim but not be an extremist". I'd have preferred something a bit stronger. Virtually all devout Muslims are not extremists, actually, or potential terrorists.
Cameron talks about how we should reassert our national identity, our British values of freedom of speech and equal rights for everyone. It annoys me when people appropriate such positive values, which are common across all of humanity, for their country.
I find it quite distressing that he wraps all of this up as "active and muscular liberalism". It's not the sort of liberalism I recognise, which is all about ensuring that none are "enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity" (a phrase from the Preamble to our Constitution). I rather liked how my friend Norman Fraser summed it up on Facebook earlier today:
Muscular Liberalism' would appear to be liberalism with the tolerance and intelligence taken out.I don't like the way that Cameron used a speech about dealing with Islamic extremism to talk about things like equal rights for women and gay people as though sexism and homophobia were confined to that very small bunch of people. If Government ministers are not to engage with people who espouse such ideas, does that mean that there will be no more consorting with Daily Mail journalists or certain sports commentators?
I wish I had more time at the moment to delve more deeply into this but for once we have a social life and we're off out to see some friends in a minute.
I wonder, though, if Cameron feels a need to reconnect with his core vote who, thanks to the right wing press, may be fearing that he's turned into a cuddly liberal teddy bear who's taking all their money away. It's quite a contrast, though. This week Nick Clegg has been talking about very positive things, showcasing £400m of new help for mental health services and therapies, and outlining a coherent economic strategy. He's had a very good week. He's come out with loads of things recently that appeal to Liberal Democrats. Cameron is saying stuff to appeal to core Conservatives and the fact that it's narrow minded stuff that makes me feel queasy is not really surprising.
I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, though, that the huge differences in philosophy between the two parties have been highlighted so clearly by their leaders. Clegg, on one hand seeking to sweep away prejudice and stigma, Cameron on the other trying to reinforce it.