Monday, November 27, 2017


"David Cameron listed many of the achievements of his six years in office as he stood in Downing Street on the day after June’s historic EU referendum. These included rebuilding the economy after the financial crisis and legislating to allow gay marriage. But the grim reality for the departing British prime minister is that he will forever be remembered as the man who took his country out of the EU. It is an ironic epitaph for a politician who once vowed to stop his party from “banging on about Europe”, the issue that has haunted the Conservatives since Margaret Thatcher’s reign. It is an unfortunate one, too, given that he is the most successful leader of the Tories in decades, returning them to power in 2010 after a long spell in the wilderness. But as with the ill-fated Anthony Eden, who resigned after the 1956 Suez crisis, the manner of Mr Cameron’s going is likely to be remembered far more than any other aspect of his time in office. In many ways, it is right this should be the case: for Europe is the issue that has dogged his premiership above all others and on which he has failed to master his party."
James Blitz, "David Cameron pays the price of tactical failure: The PM’s biggest challenge was always going to be Europe". The Financial Times. 12 July 2016, in
"The key reason why Cameron's premiership becomes so dominated by Europe is down to the Conservative Party itself and the rise of UKIP. Hague anticipates how difficult the party might be, but Cameron is caught off guard by the strength of feeling on the issue....Cameron is infuriated with his backbench Eurosceptics. They gave him no credit earlier in the year for negotiating Britain out of the European Financial Stability Mechanism....The chief whip Patrick McLoughlin is confronted by a spectrum of opponents, from ultras like Cash to those who have said in their election literature they favored a referendum."
Anthony Seldon & Peter Snowdon. Cameron at 10: The inside Story, 2010-2015. (2015), pp. 168-169.
The Tory party is run by five people….And they all treat their followers with disdain, they are mostly Etonians and Eton is good for disdain”.
Anthony Sampson. Anatomy of Britain. (1962), p. 89.
Reading the Seldon & Snowdon book (hereafter 'Seldon') is a very strange experience. The book itself was completed in August 2015, which places it a few months after the Tory Party's election victory in the May 2015 elections and of course ten-months prior to the British electorate's self-immolation via way of Brexit. Reading the book now, has the odd aspect of looking at the journal entries of a martial couple's salad days prior to said couple's unexpected and immediate breakup. The authors and those who the authors interviewed (all of the major personages it seems), are all of course oblivious of the coming debacle of late June 2016. And while there are glimpses here and there that the upcoming European Union referendum will be a less than pleasant hurdle to climb for then Prime Minister Cameron, et. al., it is readily assumed that having won the AV referendum of 2012 and the Scottish referendum of 2014, that there is no possible reason why Cameron will not emerge once again on top. The book does delve a great deal into the tensions in the Tory Party over Europe. A topic that it is fairly clear, that then Prime Minister Cameron had a limited amount of interest in. It is certainly apparent that Cameron's de haut en bas view of the United Kingdom Independence Party, was easily transferable to the 'Euro-skeptics' in the Tory Party as well. "Swivel-eyed loons" just about does it for both groups from Cameron's perspective 1. Which is not to gainsay the fact (which the book discusses at length) that Cameron was uneasy with aspects of the European Union and the EU project. It is merely the case, that Cameron feels (correctly in my opinion) that: a) the European Union was and is to a limited extent reformable from the 'inside'; b) that the United Kingdom exiting the European Union at that stage of the game (after 43 years of membership) is a 'cure' which is worse than the disease that said cure is supposed to remedy. Something which the subsequent negotiations between the European Union and the Theresa May government are showing more and more to be very much the case 2. Reading this book carefully provides readers (or at least this reader) with the whys of David Cameron's defenestration in June of 2016: au fond Cameron was politically speaking a 'trimmer' in the sense that Stanley Baldwin or (to a degree) Harold Macmillan could be said to be trimmers. The difference being that while Baldwin and Macmillan were highly experienced politicians when they became Prime Ministers, this was hardly the case with Cameron. Also, unlike these two and in particular Baldwin, Cameron failed to effectively hide his distaste for his parliamentary back benchers. Whatever Baldwin's dislike for the Tory Right-wingers in his Conservative Party, he (mostly) kept his opinion to himself. Something that Cameron for a variety of reasons was never able to do. But then again Baldwin was a Harrovian (like Churchill) rather than an Etonian. Also neither Baldwin or Macmillan ever made the mistake of informing the electorate that he was going to retire three to four years prior to doing so `a la Cameron in the Spring of 2015. Indeed, if nothing else this horrible promise provides every explanation as to why Boris Johnson and Michael Gove would jump ship and come out for Brexit when they did in the late winter of 2015-2016. And sans Johnson and Gove it is difficult to imagine that Brexit would ever have a chance in winning the referendum. In short, Cameron's ultimate failure in office is that as a politician, he was a pure tactician whose tactical skills failed him on his last try (or in fact referendum). Which in retrospect is a great pity, since notwithstanding all my disagreements with some of his policies (such as homosexual marriage), David Cameron was by any measurement a first-class politician and a very good Prime Minister. Certainly head and shoulders above his benighted successor.
1. "David Cameron ally: Tory activists are mad, swivel-eyed loons". The Guardian. 17 May 2013. In
2. Andrew Lilico, "Get ready for a no deal Brexit". Reaction. 12 October 2017, in


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