Main Site         

The new etiquette

2010 May 13
by Paul Vallely

First the new politics, now the new etiquette. Visitors to Downing St have long had to check their mobiles into the little set of pigeonholes by the front door; now ministers will too.

David Cameron’s decision to ban phones and other mobile devices from Cabinet meetings should become fashionable on a much wider basis. Early adopters, please note.

There is no doubt that the cellphone has become a latter-day liberator. The ability to be contacted anywhere has brought new flexibility and freedom to our daily lives. But other people’s phones, like other people’s cars, can become a tyranny. It is not just that your freedom to blether inanely on the train curtails mine to a bit of peace and quiet. It is that some texters and crackberry-users become so addicted to compulsive message-checking that, with brazen rudeness, they ignore those they are with to communicate with those who are far away.

As if evidence were needed of that the prime minister yesterday had to call the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to attention as he was on his phone while Mr Cameron was announcing that mobiles were henceforth to be banned.

Perhaps Mr Cameron could legislate for greater cellphone restraint in all manner of public places.  After all what is the point of having a cabinet of public schools boys if they can’t bring a return to some old-fashioned good manners.

But excuse me, I think I’ve got a call coming through…

Comments are closed.