Monday, 4 July 2016

David Cameron RIP

Another whopper
And so another prime minister exits number 10, barely 12 months after his unexpected triumph in the 2015 general election. He was not the architect of his victory but the lucky recipient of negative campaigning against his opponents, which was influenced by a popular press that was mendacious in its dismissal of Clegg and Milliband. The Labour Party self destructed under the pincer movement of the media, a rampant SNP and a failure to conjure a vision of economic competence.

Mr Cameron has never doubted his own ability and sought to inveigle his way into the good books of the electorate by being a ubiquitous presence on news bulletins with his ability to ad lib confidently on the headline events of the day. He also gave time to his ministers for them to understand their briefs, he did not have the tendency to shuffle his cabinet. On many issues he would give off the cuff responses or promises that were often impossible to deliver. He was comfortable being the front man for the government, a PM at ease with his own greatness. He left the heavy lifting and dirty work to his accomplices: George and Michael; they were responsible for the careless whispering.

As prime minister David Cameron built up an impressive bucket list of failures: housebuilding crashed, benefits slashed, libya smashed, lib dems dished, democracy dashed, press complaints and press officers sacked, economy cracked, sustainable energy fracked, bankers stashed, fairness trashed, his inheritance cashed but not taxed. His ever ready rhetoric changed by the day and had to be frequently amended or twisted by his communication team a few days after his utterances.

I happened upon the Anthony Selsdon and Peter Snow biography of David Cameron, Cameron at 10, in a bookshop last week and was tempted to buy it. I have read political biographies of most post war prime ministers in recent years but I stopped myself fearing that it might influence my intuitive opinions of this apparently charming but ruthless man. Over his 6 years as PM he has had a negative impact on the well being of a majority of UK citizens, who have suffered the consequences of his loose and austere vision for public services.

At the start of the year I reflected on whether David Cameron was possibly the worst post war Prime Minister. This followed his announced of the referendum on the EU and his claim that he had negotiated a ground breaking deal for the UK to remain in the European Union. It was a bogus claim that set the scene for an unnecessary referendum that was designed primarily to keep the Tory eurosceptics in their place. His strategy failed utterly through his lack of diligence and he scuttled his premiership in the sure knowledge that it would be an onerous and thankless task to negotiate an exit from the EU. It would require an attention to detail that has never been his strong suit.

I will read a biography of Attlee and consider  the major achievements of each PM, their success or otherwise in elections, their mistakes, their leadership qualities and communication skills before I finally rank Cameron in the hall of fame of post war prime ministers. In the meantime I would simply conclude that he has been a great disappointment and the damage of his tenure to the majority of UK citizens has been on a par with Mrs Thatcher. He has also damaged the reputation of the UK as a global player in contrast to Mrs Thatcher, who whatever her impact on less affluent communities in Britain, did gain respect on the world stage.

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