"Flashman, be it said, was big and strong of his age. He played well at all games where pluck wasn't much wanted, and managed generally to keep appearances where it was; and having a bluff off-hand manner, which passed for heartiness, and considerable powers of being pleasant when he liked, went down with the school in general for a good fellow enough. Even in the School-house, by dint of his command of money, the constant supply of good things which he kept up, and his adroit toadyism, he had managed to make himself not only tolerated but rather popular amongst his own contemporaries; although Young Clegg scarcely spoke to him, and one or two others of the right sort like old Binner's showed their opinions of him whenever a chance offered. But the wrong sort happened to be in the ascendant just now, and so Flashman was a formidable enemy for small boys. This soon became plain enough. Flashman left no slander unspoken, and no deed undone, which could in any way hurt his victims, or isolate them from the rest of the house. One by one most of the other rebels fell away from them, while Flashman's cause prospered, and several other fifth-form boys began to look black at them and ill-treat them as they passed about the house. By keeping out of bounds, or at all events out of the house and quadrangle, all day, and carefully barring themselves in at night, the poorest boys managed to hold on without feeling very miserable; but it was as much as they could do. Greatly were they drawn then towards Old Labour, who, in an uncouth way, began to take a good deal of notice of them, and once or twice came to their study when Flashman was there, who immediately decamped in consequence. The boys thought that Old Labour must have been watching.
David Cameron's apparent uneasiness with comparisons between one public schoolboy and another (him and flashy) have I am told led to some angry exchanges in the House and it is it seems a charactonym far too close to the truth for him to bear. But if this is really so, then why does he continue to try so hard to live up to his Tom Brown Schoolboy soul mate so much in his actions and deeds?
Cameron in recent weeks in an attempt to rid himself of the omnigaffe and u-turn blues has taken once more to the open mouth before engaging brain persona that had troubled him so when first entering number 10, do you still remember his grovelling speech in the States when he referred to the UK being the USA's "Junior Partner" in the Second World war? or his assertion in Turkey that "Iran has a nuclear weapon"?
Well this time he chose his home ground on which to make a fool of himself. Jimmy Carr's Tax avoidance is of course morally repugnant, and I for one have lost a tremendous amount of respect for the comedian now I know how little he cares for paying his taxes, but was it really David Cameron who was preaching to all who would listen as to how wrong all this was? It was a TV spectacle equivalent to watching Dot Cotton launch an anti smoking campaign for the NHS or listening to Jeremy Clarkson in praise of women only shortlists. We just couldn't take it in as believable.
Here was a man whose father and father in law have both been exposed as tax dodgers engaged in siphoning off money overseas, a man whose party is kept afloat by deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft who it is reported has avoided paying over £127m in taxes over a ten year period during which he himself donated £11m to the Tory party! And what about his fellow cabinet members who are also allegedly involved in tax avoidance? Just why oh why the PM started throwing rocks and boulders about in such a home owned greenhouse is anybody's guess. Perhaps like Flashman he is simply happy to preach to his fags as to what they should and shouldn't do whilst privately refusing to acknowledge even to himself that his own position as head boy has been bought completely by outside privilege and favour from a wealthy family.
And so having been caught out and found out by an electorate far more astute than Dr Arnold, the schoolmaster from Thomas Hughes's novel, Flashman "Call me Dave" reverts to type and starts bullying the oiks. And so it is today that we witness another attack on the young and vulnerable, labeling them all as workshy benefit scroungers undeserving of our care and thus proposing to cut Housing Benefit to all under 25 years olds.
He of course is talking to a specific audience of voters when he speaks, those who want any safety net completely pulled from underneath the have nots, but it is his knee jerk "nasty party" commentary thats leads sensible people to question whether or not his rantings are even partly sensible?
In one fell swoop he is saying that all parents must keep their young at home until they are 25 unless they can afford to move out, and don't think for one minute that his target is just the workshy, of the 210,000 under 25's claiming Housing Benefit a very high number are already in work and claim benefit as a top up to satisfy the ridiculous levels of private rent to private landlords, creaming it in (and probably avoiding paying tax on the profit) due to the failure of successive Governments to provide decent social housing for our young.
Even within the coalition the questions on what is dodgy policy are stacking up
Tim Leunig, chief economist at the Liberal Democrat Centre Forum think tank, poses five questions for Cameron:
• Does this mean all parents have a legal obligation to house their children until they are 25? What sanctions will be placed on parents who refuse to do this?
• If there is no such obligation, where are low income and unemployed under 25s supposed to live? Will the state provide "young adult homes" akin to children's homes for people whose parents refuse? What about those who have no parents? How much will this cost taxpayers?
• Will parents of people aged under 25 be able to claim housing benefit on a bedroom for their under 25, even if the under 25 has moved out, in case they need to move back? How much will this cost taxpayers? Or will there be a legal obligation on social and private renters to move to a different sized house every time their adult children need to move in, or choose to move out?
• Which parents have a legal obligation to house a married couple aged under 25 in low income work? Do the young couple have to split up and live with their own parents? Can they choose? Do they have to alternate?
• Who has a legal obligation to house a couple under 25 with children?"I say Flashy" said Osbourne the upper fifths swag carrier "Do you not you think the young pups have had enough" "We have taken all their jobs and wages, without having to crash them out of the dorm" "Nonsense" said Flashman "lets roast them, teach them a damn good lesson once and for all, GROWTH and JOBS they ask for, how dare they, they can fag for the rich and have their privileges docked and if they as much as whimper we will thrash them"
Cameron's proposed cut to Housing Benefit for the under 25's will do nothing to slow down the ever growing rise in the welfare bill. only growth and employment will do that. It is a cut which will punish all under 25's even those who are working and put added pressure on the poorest families to keep them at home. It will add as a break to growing up for our young and make them more dependent not less. It will discourage work if the state is not prepared to reward those making an effort. It will disrupt the lives of thousands of young couples with children who if the wage earner is made redundant are then forced to up and move house and school to return to live with parents.
Like his comments on taxation Cameron's schoolboy recent rants on Housing Benefit were best left unsaid as they are borne out of indifference, insensitivity and class ignorance.
"Well done Flashman old boy" said Boris, "Lets smash the oiks"