‘Making sure people are in control’

So says our new PM.

Some questions:

  1. Which people?
  2. In control of what?
  3. Is ‘control’ possible, desirable?

What do you mean by control…

  • power to direct or determine; “under control”
  • a relation of constraint of one entity (thing or person or group) by another; “measures for the control of disease”; “they instituted controls over drinking on campus”
  • exercise authoritative control or power over; “control the budget”; “Command the military forces”
  • lessen the intensity of; temper; hold in restraint; hold or keep within limits; “moderate your alcohol intake”; “hold your tongue”; “hold your temper”; “control your anger”
  • the activity of managing or exerting control over something; “the control of the mob by the police was admirable”
  • operate: handle and cause to function;
  • dominance: the state that exists when one person or group has power over another;
  • manipulate: control (others or oneself) or influence skillfully, usually to one’s advantage;
  • restraint: discipline in personal and social activities; “he was a model of polite restraint”; “she never lost control of herself”

I wonder what exactly Mr Cameron means by ‘Making sure that people are in control’?


  1. The very fact that the statement ‘making sure people are in control’ is open to multifarious interpretations betrays it as another example of nebulous, intangible and ultimately meaningless words – a mission statement that can never be fulfilled because its vagueness means that no two people would define its meaning the same way. Conversely, it’s a mission statement that is all too easy to fulfill, as its author would be able to point to some example, somewhere, where a state of ‘people being in control’ has come about. My opinion is that it’s an adjunct of the so called ‘big society’ idea, where people are ostensibly freed from the constraints of the big state, which supresses their natural creative and entrepreneurial instincts and leaves them feeling dependent on the state and powerless as an individual. In reality though, I imagine it means that the government will kick away the crutches of the state on which many people in society genuinely depend. It may imply ‘government off our backs’ for some, but for many it will mean ‘government doesn’t care, we’re on our own’.

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