In the context of talking about social breakdown, violence on our streets, and so on, Cameron offered three planks of policy to begin to tackle the problem: Families, Schools and Welfare.
Under schools there was the usual complaint about standards, and then this:
Listen to this. It's the President of the Spelling Society. He said, and I quote, "people should be able to use whichever spelling they prefer."
Isn't that shocking, that the Spelling Society doesn't stand up for correct spelling? Well no. The Spelling Society is a campaign for the simplification of English Spelling. They have slogans like
Why don'tcombtombbombrime?Why dotheysayweighrime?
The point being that illogical spelling makes it harder for children to learn to read, leads to lower educational achievement, and contributes, presumably, in the long run, to, er, social breakdown.
This is not a campaign of trendy educationalists to take over our schools, but a campaign aimed at us, and in particular publishers, to spell words in a sensible way.
You might not agree of course, you might find the ossified spellings of a some particular previous century - I forget which - "quaint". Fine, but by putting that first you are the agent of social breakdown, not its opponent.
Cameron has taken the opposite view - saying that only by failing to reform English spelling are we going to staunch the tide of social breakdown. Or something like that. The full speech is parodied here, at Dave, nice but knave. (Which is me, really. Plug plug)
But perhaps I am reading too much into what Dave said. Perhaps it was just a pathetic retreat into a Tory comfort zone when faced with a difficult problem.
Update: more from Alix