Monday, 12 September 2016

The passing of David Cameron

I liked David Cameron. He was very clever, though always lightweight, a Blairite, never a Tory but a Whig. I can't forgive homosexual marriage or changing the rules of succession to the throne, but he kept Labour out of power for six years and steered the UK out of the financial crisis far better than Labour could ever have done. 

He seemed very faintly absent from his own premiership, but this was probably an illusion. He was the best Prime Minister since Mrs. Thatcher and before that Supermac, though James Callaghan had his qualities and Lord Home would have been excellent had he had more than a year.

I am very glad that Mr. Cameron was too clever by half in the end. Nick Clegg, his Liberal Democrat deputy in the coalition, said that one day Mr. Cameron's fine brain wouldn't be enough to get him out of a scrape. So it proved. The referendum was a wonderful thing. He and Nigel Farage have changed British history more than any other two politicians since the 1940s. The difference was, of course, that Mr. Farage wanted to.

In resigning as an MP Mr. Cameron is again being the heir to Blair. It was disgusting to hear Tony Blair admitting in his last speech in the House of Commons that he had never liked the place and then be clapped, the first time clapping had ever broken out in the House.

Stanley Baldwin left the House when he retired as Prime Minister, wanting "neither to speak to the man at the wheel nor to spit on the deck." No doubt David Cameron did not want to be in conflict with his successor over Brexit or grammar schools. Yet I wish Prime Ministers showed some affection for the House and pride in being MPs. Baldwin as Prime Minister always found time to sit in the tea room and chat to senior backbenchers. 

That age is passed. 

William Hague  pointed out that being an MP is now a full-time job and not interesting for former Prime Ministers. This is terribly sad but true. They have become social workers to a large extent. An MP should have another job, be a barrister or sit on boards or be a landowner and thereby get to know what the country is thinking. Enoch Powell was the last MP to eschew an office and work in the library. MPs' offices, secretaries, research assistants (I was one) and, worst of all, televising the House (as Powell predicted) and 'family-friendly hours' have changed the place out of recognition from the House of Baldwin's day when it was still a (male) club. Or two clubs, one for Labour and one for Tory and Liberal MPs.

I don't always agree with James Kirkup of the Telegraph, but found myself nodding at this.
In between breaking his promise not to resign as PM and breaking his promise not to resign as an MP, the only significant official work he undertook was drawing up an honours list handing an OBE to his wife's stylist and a knighthood to his press officer. Mr Cameron's character and his approach to politics is: a lack of seriousness, the absence of real commitment..a gentleman amateur trying his hand at governing out of a combination of duty, boredom and vanity. 
I was angry with David Cameron for his lack of respect for the House when I started writing this. I like gentlemen amateurs, but not ones too grand to be backbenchers. But if being an MP means voting for things to which he is opposed, perhaps he did the right thing. 

David Cameron is 49, which makes me feel old. He is the youngest former Prime Minister since Lord Rosebery who left office, in 1895, at the age of 46. Before that you have to go back to Lord Goderich who was 44.

I'd like David Cameron to be made an earl. He has the right background and it would be nice to have a new hereditary peerage after so long. The Earl of Brexit has a fine ring to it. 

And a viscounty for Nigel Farage?


  1. I like Cameron. He restored the electablity of the Conservatives, he called the Referendum because it was the only way of resolving a decades-long crisis over Europe. He was a good parliamentarian - never stuck for a perfectly-formed sentence. Now he's planning his future and at 49, I am sure he will do great things. I never understood why so many Brits disliked Mr. Cameron. If it was just because he is a bit posh (but not obnoxiously so) I think that's pathetic.

  2. Hello Anonymous. Difficult to take you seriously hiding behind anonymity. Happy for you to think of me as pathetic.