As I was doing some research for my talk on happiness and wellbeing this week (which went well, thanks) I came across this nice little summary of one of my points. I won’t tell you who wrote it. Have a read, and see if you can guess who this is for yourself.
For the past few decades we have witnessed unparalleled prosperity. But it is hard to escape the suspicion that there is something not quite right. In some cases, it’s difficult to put your finger on exactly what it is: a feeling of emptiness, and a lack of defined relationships and solid social structures. In other respects, it is clearly identifiable: rates of drug abuse and depression are rocketing.
It goes to show what most of us instinctively feel: that the pursuit of wealth is no longer – if it ever was – enough to meet people’s hope and aspirations; that over-consumption of the world’s resources cannot satisfy our most inborn desires; and yes, that quality of life means more than quantity of money.
The answer is David Cameron, circa 2008, a time we might want to refer to as ‘peak Dave’. Two years later he would be out of opposition and in government,where his more holistic vision of wealth was swiftly forgotten. The scepticism he voices about GDP in this essay was replaced by promises of a ‘relentless focus on growth’. The push for solar power that he advocates was replaced by hymns of praise to fracking.
Looking back at this essay now, which you’ll find in the book Do good lives have to cost the earth?, I can almost imagine an alternative reality where David Cameron managed to convince his colleagues and followed through on his instincts. He would have left a very different legacy.
Lest we forget, the politics of opposition are different from the politics of government. Always worth remembering during election season.