Falling off your chair in the name of the 'Common Good'

By Jonathan Bartley
May 17, 2010

The Daily Telegraph reports today that David Cameron almost made the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster fall off his chair when he mentioned the 'Common Good'.

He also seems to be taking credit for the namecheck, after publication of the Catholic bishop’s 10 page document “Choosing the Common Good”, which they are sure that David Cameron has seen.

If the Archbishop had been paying closer political attention for the last 15 or so years, he might have had quite a few more bumps and bruises, because the phrase has been pretty common currency with PMs for a long while.

Gordon Brown often used the phrase, see for example here and here.

Tony Blair also used the phrase as part of his political vision even before he was prime minister, as well as during his premiership and has continued to use it afterwards too.

What one means by the ‘Common Good’ of course, is obviously crucial, as the phrase has become a bit of an empty soundbite. So it is a shame that the Archbishop doesn’t seem to have noticed that it has also been frequently used by Conservatives - long before the publication of the Bishop’s document. In particular, he should note the context of how Liam Fox, now defence secretary, has used it, locating the idea at the heart of his military vision.

Now that should give the Archbishop something to fall off his chair about.

Keywords:common good
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