Monday, June 11, 2007

Brown the roundhead; Cameron and Blair the cavaliers

Clifford Longley had a very interesting "Thought for the Day" this morning.

In a nutshell, for the purposes of discussion, Longley divided Britain into "roundheads" and "cavaliers", calling Tony Blair and David Cameron "cavaliers" and Gordon Brown a "roundhead". He summarised the opposing characters they symbolise as:

"Cavaliers have more fun, Roundheads get more done."

His conclusion was that we need both types in society. It is a fascinating thought, and certainly more soothing than anything "from our Oxford studio, writer and broadcaster is Radio One". The transcript of Longley's talk is here. Here is a sample:

Gordon Brown and David Cameron have both been emphasising the need to establish a clearer sense of national identity, to counter the tendency for a multi-cultural society to pull itself apart. Neither mentions religion, probably because it is seen as part of the problem and not part of the solution. But what about the national character?

That's slightly different from identity, and you can't so easily dismiss religion from the equation. The Anglo-Saxon personality owes a lot to our turbulent religious history, in particular the fault- line that has emerged time and again between two principles or ideas which, going back to the English civil war, we could label Roundhead and Cavalier.

If we're looking for where the dividing line runs today, we shouldn't ignore the party wall between No 10 and No 11 Downing Street. There is something of the Roundhead about Presbyterian Gordon Brown and something of the Cavalier about Tony Blair, who leans, as we know, towards Catholicism. The Cavalier and the Roundhead have two views of God, even a God they don't believe in like my utterly atheist father who was distinctly Puritan in his values. The Puritan God is hard to please; we must keep to his rules or he will be angry with us. Those who follow him are zealous strivers who work hard to get where their duty drives them. The Cavaliers' God is more relaxed and forgiving, who wants us to enjoy life. Cavaliers, natural aristocrats, rise effortlessly to the top as if it was their God- given right.


  1. Clifford Longley had a very interesting “Thought for the Day” this morning.

    This Blog is going to give me a hernia.

  2. Its very frustrating - he stole my idea. I blogged about Michael Gove's division of the world into Macs and PCs but thought at the time that a better analogy would be cavaliers and roundheads. Except I never got round to writing it...

    My solid, lower middle class Midlands Methodist upbringing puts me firmly on Cromwell's side.

  3. "This Blog is going to give me a hernia."

    It could have been worse. I could have written: "Anne Atkins had a very interesting "Thought for the Day" this morning."

    I can guarantee that I will never write that, so that'd something!

  4. Ha! That would indeed have been much worse. I think there’s hope for you yet!