Tuesday, 13 September 2016

David Cameron: A Failed Prime Minister and Politician

Why anyone is the least bit surprised by the sudden resignation of David Cameron as an MP is in itself a surprise. In truth we were all surprised when he promised to stay on as a backbench MP when he quit as prime minister just a few weeks ago. We should have known better. The man who claimed that he was trying to get the best deal for Britain with the EU and who was open minded about campaigning to leave only to then come up with his sham deal and to try and bully us all into submission is no great loss to politics or to public service. I for one lost all respect for him when he called his referendum based on that false prospectus.

David Cameron simply got found out in the end. He was the man who won his job because he convinced his party that it needed a smooth PR man at its head rather than a politician who believed in things and wanted to get things done. Dave didn't really do belief. He didn't really get things done either. His government was meretricious and flimsy. Where it got things done it was because there were people of singular vision working beneath him. Dave and George were the oh so clever posh boys whose epic sense of entitlement even saw them aspire to the top two jobs in the country just because they felt they would be good at this politics game.

In truth they weren't as good at it as they thought they were. Dave and George were tacticians in search of a strategy. That was ultimately what came unstuck. They were always looking for some way of buying off their critics or their enemies, some clever ruse to buy themselves a little more time. That was how they got trapped into calling their referendum, a referendum they arrogantly thought they could win with a mixture of lies and bullying. They underestimated the British people and our capacity to spot a couple of shysters when we saw them.

David Cameron is probably right that he would be distracting as a backbench MP, but not in the way he thinks. He would be a constant reminder of a different way of doing things, one now happily left behind. In Theresa May we now have someone who believes in things and is willing to take tough decisions rather than shirk them or kick them into the long grass. The reason she has such a long list of issues for her consideration right now is because for Dave and George that was their modus operandi.

During the referendum campaign Cameron said that he would not quit as PM if he lost the vote. He told the country that we are not a nation of quitters. Then not only did he ignore that promise straight after having lost that vote (his position was untenable anyway as this blog always said that it would be) he has now reneged on another promise made as he was reneging on the former promise. Put that alongside his and George's constant deferral of when they would settle the nation's books. In the meantime he has drawn his MPs salary over the summer, a summer during which he took five separate holidays, only to quit as an MP within a week of parliament reconvening. Oh and he has handed down a long list of honours to his cronies in the meantime too. Payback and payback.

Now no doubt he will earn a fortune from book deals and giving speeches. His memoirs will be well worth reading. What will his take be on the Cameron years? What was his great achievement? He told us with a straight face yesterday that he did at least give us that referendum that he lost. True up to a point, Dave. But you tried to steal it from us having only granted it when backed into a corner.

He will go down as a failed prime minister for the very good reason that he failed. His government was not disastrous but it was a government that could and should have done so much more. What achievements he can boast of were largely won by accident. The economy is doing well despite Dave and George and not because of them. Education was one of the few successes, but even that was because of the efforts of Michael Gove, a man who was moved from post by Dave as he was in danger of being too successful and thus controversial.

Some will say that he was good at the job of being prime minister. In some ways he was. But he was good at being prime minister in the same way that Tony Blair was, or Barack Obama is a good president. They are good at playing the role, of appearing smooth on camera, of lying to our faces and then coming up with a new lie when that one is found out. They are less good at the actual business of governing. It is a very modern idea of what politics is about to say that David Cameron was a good prime minister. He wasn't. He was good at appearing to be a good prime minister. He was often very good in interviews, in speeches, at PMQs. His last appearance at PMQs was a great example of how good he could be. I wrote then that we would miss him. In that narrow sense we have and we will.

But there was no intellectual heft to David Cameron. He is clever for sure, but it was cleverness with nothing to show for it. Why did he go into politics at all? What are his beliefs? What are his principles? We never really found out, there was no Cameronism. And his disgusting dishonesty over Europe was the final straw for many of us.

Ultimately David Cameron was a PR man who was not very good at PR. His great and enduring legacy to British politics will be that referendum. Oh and for a while he started a fashion for giving speeches without notes. Thankfully that has died with his political career too. I shall not begrudge him his millions earned after his political career. He would be doing us all a great service however if he just goes off and writes his book, gets a few directorships, makes lots of speeches for megabucks without setting up a charity or a foundation in his name. Don't pretend that you care, Dave. Your precipitate and ungracious departure proves that you don't.


Now there is a vacancy for a new Conservative parliamentary candidate for his ultra safe and lovely seat of Witney. Assuming that they don't want me as their candidate, may I recommend that the good burghers of Witney offer the candidacy to Esther McVey immediately.

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