David Cameron books at
Article added on March 1, 2010; last paragraphs added on March
Article added on March 1, 2010
David Cameron may well become the UK's next prime
minister. But who is he? An untested leader with no executive experience and
a master of public relations. Does he have the stature to lead his country
still in the midst of an economic and financial crisis? Voters will soon
find out. One thing seems to be clear: The days of dilettante Gordon Brown
Born in 1966, the leader of the Conservative Party since December 2005,
David Cameron is still a relatively unknown quantity. In 2007, two
journalists of the Independent on Sunday, Francis Elliott and James Hanning,
tried to shed light on his biography:
Cameron: The Rise of the New Conservative.
Elliott went like Cameron to Eton, Hanning was in Oxford when Cameron
studied there philosophy, politics and economics. In short, the biographers
are familiar with the Tory leader's educational environment.
The family and
education of David Cameron
David Cameron is the son of stockbroker Ian Donald Cameron and his wife,
Mary Fleur Mount, a daughter of Sir William Mount, 2nd Baronet. David is a
direct descendent of King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan, with
whom he had some eight to ten illegitimate children.
The Cameron family has a long history in finance. David's great grandfather, Ewen Cameron, rose to the position of London head
of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, the founding
member of the HSBC Group.
David's father is crippled from his knees downwards. Uncomplainingly
accepting his fate and demonstrating an inspiring working ethic, he is
David's role model.
married into a blue-blooded family. His wife Samantha is a member
of the Astor and Sheffield family who owned, until 300 years ago, Buckingham
House where Buckingham Palace was built later.
David Cameron enjoyed a very traditional upbringing. He went to the
no-longer existing Heatherdown school, also frequented by the princes Andrew
and Edward. Subsequently, David went to Eton and then Oxford.
He was described as a low-key, charming and well-liked personality. The
authors of the biography still managed to find a Cameron schoolmate who
called him calculating. Someone in Eton described him
as "tough as nails", although nobody seemed to notice, according to
this voice. Cameron's determination later led him to win the leadership of
the Conservative Party and may lead him in 2010 to win the UK premiership.
With the exception of a Cannabis episode in school in 1982, which he
admitted, David never made negative headlines in his youth. The same year,
he developed the academic ambition he had been missing until then as well as
his interest in politics. According to
Elliott and Hanning,
in the early 1980s, Eton and the Conservative Party were synonyms.
From 1985 to 1988, after a three-month internship at a parent's company in
Hong Kong, Cameron studied philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) in
Oxford. According to the governmental and constitutional specialist Vernon
Bogdanor, David belonged to the top 5% of the students he ever taught, a
pragmatic, non-ideological Tory. Schoolmates said that, at the time, Cameron
loved the Free Market and Margaret Thatcher. Nevertheless, he was not
David finished his PPE with a
“first class degree”.
From 1988 to 1992, he worked for the Conservative Research
Department, CRD. It was a Tory unit in which rising Conservative talents such as Michael Portillo, Nigel Lawson, Douglas
Hurd and Chris Patten had been active.
Thanks to his CRD activity,
David Cameron was hired by Prime Minister John Major to prepare his biweekly
question time in parliament. Major's answers got better and David was
positively mentioned in the British press. The young aid successfully helped
other members of cabinet too and found many admirers among journalists.
According to his biographers, in 1992, an overzealous Cameron tried to
rework a press release which contained a text agreed on by an independent
witness. David was caught by chance. The event made his star sink in the
The devaluation of the British Pound
Cameron had hoped to become an adviser to John Major after the election. The
prime minister however decided to take a political secretary. Instead, David
got the job of special adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Six
months later, Norman Lamont suffered
“the Tories' greatest political catastrophe of modern times”. On September 16,
1992 the Conservative government had to take the British Pound out of the
European Monetary System (EMS) which led to a substantial devaluation of the
£ towards the DM and the $. Cameron surely would have preferred not to be
associated with this disaster.
John Major, as Chancellor, had convinced Margaret Thatcher that Britain had to
join the ERM. Chancellor Lamont had to bear the consequences. The
straitjacket of the ERM did not allow the Treasury to cut interest rates to
stimulate the economy as previous Chancellors had done during downturns.
The financial markets believed the ERM was bound to unravel, while the Tory
government were determined to press ahead with it. In July 1992, Lamont was
still confident that the crisis could be weathered. He hoped that on
September 20, the French would vote
in the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty and the
pressure on the ERM would automatically ease as the single currency was put on
track. The Bank of England was convinced that aggressive and concerted
intervention - buying its own currency - would keep the pound within its allowed
range of values.
Speculators took advantage of the situation. By early September it was clear
that mass interventions by central banks weren't working. The Italian lira had
plummeted out of the agreed zone and the pound looked like following. The
“petit oui” by the French with 51% destroyed Lamont's hopes.
Some say Lamont should not have implemented a policy he did not believe in.
Cameron certainly knew of Lamont's feelings and shared his doubts about the
political direction of the European integration. The Euro-enthusiasts Ken Clarke,
Douglas Hurd and Michael Heseltine showed no sign of wanting to pull out of the
ERM. As a recent graduate, Cameron had no influence on the Chancellor.
According to the biography by Cameron
only took one
“Just before Black Wednesday he bought me a cigar
a foot long”, says Lamont.
“By the time you have smoked all of this, all your
troubles will be over.” A sign of insouciance of Cameron and a show of moral
support for Lamont, David was on holiday with his parents and came back on
September 14. Soros and other speculators were ready to kill. On September 15,
the head of the Bundesbank Helmut Schlesinger seemed to imply in an interview
that it would have been better if Britain had taken the plunge and formally
realigned along with Italy. On September 16, the British government spent £3.4
billion unsuccessfully propping up the pound.
Afterwards, Lamont's and Cameron's job hung on the same thread. Cameron wrote
Lamont's speech in a lecture to the Conservative Political Centre (CPC),
including the line:
“No one would die for Europe.” In Brighton however, Lamont
made a mess of the speech written by Cameron. Two bright lights shining
directly on to the teleprompters in front of Lamont meant that the chancellor struggled to
read his speech. Lamont destroyed the delivery. According to the biographers:
“It was a lesson the young
Cameron never forgot”.
In 2005, Cameron gave the party conference speech
that catapulted him from back-marker to frontrunner in the Conservative
leadership race without notes - the only candidate to do so.
1993, Lamont was under permanent attack. Cameron was the Chancellor's main
political adviser. Lamont blamed himself for a reply to BBC's John Pienaar
“Chancellor, which do you regret most, seeing green shots or singing
in the bath?” Lamont replied with Edith Piaf's
“Je ne regrette rien”. The
authors claim that other people said that Cameron,
“the young spin doctor”, had
suggested the answer. Soon afterwards, Lamont was offered a lowlier job as
Environment Secretary and when he refused it, he was sacked on May 27, 1993.
Cameron is forever associated with Britain's humiliating exit of the ERM and one
of the biggest tax-raising budgets of recent times. The biographers conclude
that Cameron can claim to have been tested in government in the most
Added on March 5, 2010
Cameron's career after Lamont's demise
Ken Clarke wanted his own advisers; Michael Portillo, the new number two asked
the new Chancellor if he could have Cameron, but Clarke refused. Cameron was
deeply wounded by Clarke's rejection. Cameron was heading out of Whitehall and,
it seemed, out of politics.
Ken Clarke phoned up his rival Michael Howard, the new Home Secretary, who took
Cameron, but not as his adviser, but as special adviser to the home Office's
more junior ministers. Finally, David stayed 15 months. He saw Tony Blair steal law
and order for Labour.
Cameron distanced himself from Lamont's vocal opposition
to Major's European policy. Incidentally, David's former girlfriend, Laura Adshead, was one of
Major's most senior advisers on Europe, who had earned the soubriquet Miss
Maastricht and was reported to have spied on gatherings of known Eurosceptics.
Cameron with friends rented a villa near Siena, and Norman and Rosemary Lamont
came over to have lunch. One guest remembered that Lamont "looked terrible".
Howard said that Cameron's greatest talent was his capacity to do the sort
of unglamorous work necessary if a politician is to achieve real change,
whereas Blair is only interested in eye-catching initiatives. Cameron is
prepared to roll up his sleeves and work hard and follow things through.
Out of politics into Michael Green's Carlton Communications
In spring 1994, Cameron told Howard that he would be taking a job outside
politics. He was looking for a winnable seat in a local election and, therefore,
experience outside Westminster was generally required. Income was a factor too.
He and Samantha had become secretly engaged. He wanted to marry her within a
year, but the 22-year old woman felt not ready. She felt too young. Then they
bought a flat together. He needed a safe Tory seat and a well-paid, high profile
job in the private sector to launch his political career.
From 1994 to 1997, Cameron worked for Carlton Communications, a very successful
TV and film company, which was not known for quality programs. Michael
Green, chairman of Carlton, was a good friend of Samantha's mother, Annabel
Astor. Green said about the job interview with Cameron that David was "crystal clear"
that "he wanted to become an MP".
Carlton however was looking for people that wanted to stay for life.
Carlton and Green had some legal issues, poor quality and inaccurate court
reporting. In 1997, for instance, the ITC intervened several times over breaches
of its program code by the company.
A PR executive who worked frequently with Cameron at the time summed up his role:
"David was the acceptable face of Carlton."
Green was known for being difficult. Publicly, Cameron said in an interview: "He
is a terrific character - an inspirational, swashbuckling entrepreneur. He is
leaps ahead of everyone else." ... "I think, I hope, I learned from him how to
get things done, how to lead with conviction."
Green was one of Thatcher's favorite businessmen. At 17, Green and his
brother bought an ailing printing firm, pioneered direct marketing, before
breaking into TV production, finally forcing their way into the cartel of commercial
Initially, Cameron was not director of communication, but a member of of the
corporate affairs department, believed to act as PA to chairman
Michael Green, a trade magazine added.
Cameron went along well with Green. "His sang-froid, his facility with words and
his knowledge of the media all impressed Green."
He ended up as the director of Carlton's corporate affairs team.
One of Cameron's first political attempts to be selected, for a seat in Ashford
in Kent, ended in disaster.
Cameron's fight for the Stafford seat was difficult. He rebelled and joined the
200 other Tory candidates who made it clear that they were opposed to monetary
union. There was a 10.8% swing from blue to red and Cameron lost the election of
Green had held Cameron's job open at Carlton, and the loser continued with
Carlton from 1997 to 2001. Elliott and Hanning
describe him as a corporate spin doctor.
In the late 1990s, Carlton and Cameron began to make enemies among some of the
biggest names in financial journalism. He was described as obstructive, bullying
and at least on one occasion downright misleading when he put the best possible
gloss on the fact that the company's award-winning drugs documentary was a pack
of lies. One of his principal functions was as gatekeeper, controlling rather
than exciting press interest.
Ian King, business editor of the Sun, wrote before Cameron became the
Tory leader in December 2005 that Cameron "went completely off the dial, writing
to my boss, more or less inviting him to sack me." Investors were worried about
money Carlton was pouring into ITV Digital, then called ONdigital. Cameron
claimed they weren't - insisting the business was perfectly healthy. ... [ITV
Digital] went bust owing £1.2 billion."
Added on March 1, 2012
MP from 2001 to 2003
After failing to win a seat for for instance in Ashford and Stafford, David Cameron became the Tory candidate for Witney in
Oxfordshire. After the local Tory MP, Mr Woodward, who had worked with Cameron
on the 1992 election campaign, had joined the Labour Party, the young and
ambitions Cameron managed to win the Witney seat for the Conservatives.
A few days after Cameron arrived in Westminster, he had to chose a new
party leader. In his opinion, the Tories had no obvious areas of policy that needed to be
dropped. But he added: "We need a clear, positive, engaging agenda on public
services." According to his biographers Elliott and Hanning: "Apart from being strikingly similar to his message today
[2007/2009], it was
as clear a declaration of support for the modernizing rallying cry of Michael
Portillo as one could wish for. And yet David Cameron was a late and reluctant
convert to the cause of modernization."
There was an early rivalry between the
two. Portillo, the cabinet minister, early saw the potential threat of Cameron, the
special adviser. On July 10, less than a week before the ballot for Tory MPs,
Cameron pledged his support for Portillo, who was caught up between the
right-wingers who voted for Iain Duncan Smith and the Tories Europhile rump who
supported Ken Clarke.
In the final ballot, Cameron sided with Iain Duncan Smith. The biographers
state: "In an unusually personal attack on the man who had dismissed him
from the Treasury eight years previously, he laid into Clarke for being
abusive about his rival." Cameron said: "As a
former adviser put it to me a few years ago: 'The trouble with Ken's broad brush
is that everyone else gets splattered with paint."
Subsequently, Cameron was appointed to the Home Affairs Select Committee,
one of the three most important in the Commons, where he fought for the decriminalization of cannabis.
Cameron worked closely with George Osborne, the current Chancellor of the
Exchequer in his cabinet. Back then, the young MPs
Cameron and Osborne worked together on the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security
Bill in November and December 2001. They lived near one another in west London.
George Osborne began giving Cameron a lift home. Later, Osborne left his
Mercedes A Class at home and started cycling, Cameron, who had first taken up
cycling again during the election, followed suit.
George Osborne was an enthusiastic Conservative reformer, but too young to
challenge Cameron for the party leadership. According to Cameron's biographers,
their relation was the other way around as with
the famous political couple
Gordon Brown and
Cameron and Osborne were coaching their leader Ian Duncan Smith, whose performances began to
improve thanks to their help.
Cameron had doubts about the Iraq war and said so in detail but, despite them,
he voted with Labour Prime Minister
Tony Blair. Without the votes of Conservative MPs like Cameron in the
crucial Commons vote on the eve of war in March 2003, Blair would not have been
able to overcome the rebellion in his own party. This severely limited the
ability to profit from the enduring unpopularity of the war in Iraq. The
authors did not consider the positive argument that the Tories had put the national interest
over the party interest.
Cameron become deputy shadow leader of the House of Commons in July. Eric Forth, his
putative boss, was a close friend of David Davis. On his second Thursday on the job,
had to replace Eric Forth in
the business questions in the House and did such an excellent job that Quentin
Letts in the Daily Mail described it as "the best parliamentary debut I have
seen". Simon Carr in the Independent described him as "future leader
When Ian Duncan Smith was forced out of the Tory leadership, Cameron urged him
to resign in order to avoid a humiliating defeat, but said that he would vote
for him, which Cameron did, and Ian Duncan Smith was defeated 75:90.
In April 2002, David Cameron and his wife Samantha were tested by
the birth of their firstborn Ivan. He was born with a neurological disorder and
needed 24-hour assistance. It made Cameron aware of the challenges parents
with disabled children face. In 2004, Nancy Cameron, the second and healthy
child, was born. His disabled child made Cameron aware of the fact that there are
more important things in life than politics and that there is a life after
politics, the authors concluded.
Finstock Road: preparing for the election 2003-2005
Cameron was not part of Michael Howard's election campaign team. - Unlike
Tony Blair, who
is described as a Labour outsider, it was much more difficult for Cameron, a
Conservative through and through, to recognize that the Conservatives had to
change dramatically. According to the biography, it was a gradual espousal
of the modernizing agenda.
The death of the weapons scientist David Kelly in the summer of 2003 and the
subsequent inquiry by Lord Hutton exposed embarrassing details about the Blair
government, especially regarding the road to war. The BBC journalist Andrew
Gilligan wrote that the government had "sexed up" the dossier leading to the war
against Saddam Hussein. Howard was determined to exploit the opportunity and
Cameron was secretly asked to begin preparing his brief for the day of the
report's publication. Nobody took Michael Gove's advice seriously that if Lord
Hutton would deliver a knock out blow to the Blair government, the Tories were
not needed. And if there was no condemnation, the Conservative interpretation of
the case would make no difference. In the end, the Tories were very effective in convincing the media of Blair's guilt. Howard called for Blair's resignation.
The Tories had never discussed the possibility of a complete whitewash. The judge's
decision in the end was in favor of the Labour government and against the BBC.
The authors state: "The experience of the Hutton
report scarred Cameron and has made him nervous about the Iraq issue ever since.
[... Cameron] soon began to side with those - Gove, Whetstone and Osborne - who thought Howard should abandon any attempt to use the war's unpopularity to the
Tories advantage." They conclude that Cameron "had been a dove among the hawks, and was now a hawk in the dove-cote."
Cameron thought that Howard would gain nothing by attacking the government
over a war he had supported.
As a Tory leader,
Howard's honeymoon with his party base came to an end. Several policy launches under the
slogan "right to chose" had failed to catch light. Then Blair removed
Howard's trump card by agreeing to his key demand for a referendum on the
proposed constitution for the European Union. It not only destroyed Howard's
attack line, it also opened the Tories up to criticism from parties such as
the nationalist UKIP, which offered an outright UK withdrawal from the EU to
Howard's strategy was to withdraw from the EU, ditch those obligations of
membership that the Tories most disagreed with, and then campaign to rejoin the
EU. Cameron and Wheststone were appalled by Howard's idea. They arranged a
meeting with Howard and one of the businessmen who had led the campaign against
the single currency. Many of those involved in the "no" campaign would oppose
such a referendum. Howard abandoned his plans.
The consensus at the time was that the anti-reformer David Davis was likely to succeed
David Cameron's fight for the party leadership
Cameron's leadership campaign began to flow from two separate springs. The first
had been bubbling quietly since the summer of 2002 when the new MP Greg Barker,
who had worked in PR like Cameron, spotted his colleague's "marketability" from
the moment the two first met. He thought that the Tories had to skip one
generation and opt for a telegenic, charismatic, modern leader who was relaxed
and comfortable with himself.
Michael Gove, a columnist for The Times, became part of Cameron's team.
Steve Hilton also joined Cameron's team Hilton had become estranged from the Tories and
had voted for the Green
Party in 2001. He had set up his own company, Good Business, offering a vision
in which companies promote both social and commercial goods. Gove made it into the
Commons, whereas Hilton was beaten (among others by Gove).
Cameron's home in Finstock Road in North Kensington became the core of a new
dynamic group. But there was a personal setback: Whetstone was having an affair with
Cameron's father-in-law, William Astor. David got over it, but his wife,
Samantha, maintains difficult relations with her former friend Whetstone.
After Howard's defeat in the
2005 general election, Howard tried to secure his
legacy by offering the post of party chairman to the arch modernizer Francis
Maude, signaling that he would do all he could to prevent David Davis from
Howard offered Cameron the job of shadow chancellor. According to Elliott and Hanning, "Cameron, however, fought
desperately to ward off the job." He wished to avoid a confrontation with Gordon
Brown, he had already seen off six shadow chancellors in eight years. Since the
economy showed no signs of faltering, the political opportunities of the job
looked sparse. Cameron opted for the education portfolio for which, because of
his disabled son, he nurtured a special interest. Cameron had also seen Brown as
shadow chancellor being overtaken by Blair when they were on the opposition
Initially, Howard wanted Cameron to succeed him. But Cameron's criticism of the
campaign's focus on immigration and his no to take the job of party chairman
made Howard angry. He told senior aides that Osborne would be a better successor
than Cameron. Whetstone told Osborne that Howard offered him the shadow
chancellorship, under the condition that he would run, which meant that he would
have to take on both Gordon Brown and David Davis. At 33, not even a member of
the shadow cabinet yet, Osborne said he would like to take the party job and
would not rule out running, but that it wasn't what he wanted to do.
Cameron too was asked to run by his old university friend Andrew Feldman.
was running his family's textile firm Jayroma. He spoke to Cameron in the name of Lord
Harris, the carpet magnet and Tory donor. Cameron said that he lacked experience
and had been at the dispatch box on only a handful of occasions. Finally,
they persuaded Cameron and he was determined to run, the only obstacle being Osborne, whose
spectacular promotion to the shadow chancellorship had surprised everyone. It
took Osborne almost a fortnight to announce that he would not run. It was clear
that only one of the two could take on David Davis. There were several telephone
calls between the two, who denied that there was a "Granita-style deal",
the one between Blair and Brown.
Among the 14 MPs that came to pledge their support for Cameron were Michael Gove,
George Osborne, Greg Barker and Boris Johnson (today's Mayor of London). Cameron made a mistake by saying that he was still considering his options.
Some of the 14 MPs had taken political risks, e.g. Peter Viggers, who had already signed
David Davis's nomination papers. It took the group a long time to get off the
ground, they remained just 14 MPs for quite some time. Ken Clarke offered
Cameron to be his running mate, an offer Cameron had little hesitation in
At the end of June, a "Cameron Manifesto" was ready with the overarching theme
"modern compassionate Conservatism". Cameron said: "Modern compassionate
Conservatism means recognising there's more to human life than getting and
George Osborne and Hugo Swire accepted an invitation by Andrew Mitchell, who was
to become David Davis's campaign manager. He tried to win Osborne over. Cameron
was worried. Osborne was unconvinced that Cameron would win. Cameron had a very
English distaste for aggressive self-promotion.
Things got worse to the point that the possibility of pulling out and cutting a
deal with Davis was raised. Cameron rejected it.
The official launch of Cameron's campaign was a success: Cameron was a fresh
face and speaking freely. His slogan was "Change to Win."
Cameron showed no
interest in expensive clothes and cars. He had to be convinced to get a suit from
the fashionable tailor Timothy Everest, who also designed Gordon Brown's suits.
Samantha got him a new tie and shoes.
On October 4, Cameron's speech at the party congress in Blackpool was a triumph.
He was still struggling to win over the key newspaper executives. At a dinner
with the Telegraph Group the night before, he made a gaffe when he said that he
considered himself "the heir to Blair".
Martin Newland, the editor of the
Daily Telegraph is reported to have replied: "David, I would not repeat that
outside this room." More bad news came when Fox, not Cameron, became the favorite of the
Sun. But the reaction to the speech by Davis was negative, although,
according to the authors, neither its content nor its delivery were worse than
usual. Cameron was simply better.
Asked about drug use in his past by journalist Andrew Rawnsley the author of
The Inside Story of New Labour, Cameron said: "There
were things that I did then that I don't think that I should talk about now that
I'm a politician." The great irony is that the story of his drug use at
university did not surface despite the best efforts of dozens of journalists. He
stuck to his story even when journalists suggested that, in addition to cannabis,
he had also used cocaine.
In the Blackpool vote, Clarke polled 38 votes, Fox 42, Cameron 56 and Davis 62.
In the next round, Clarke was out, Cameron was the favorite and got 90 MPs
behind him, Davis only 57. With 51 votes, Fox was out of the race.
Davis and Cameron now faced a second electorate, the party's rank-and-file
On December 6, 2005 at the Royal Academy of the Arts in Londo, the result was
announced: David Davis polled 64,398 votes, David Cameron 134,446 votes.
"I said when I launched my campaign that we need to change in order to win. Now
that I've won we will change." In his program, Cameron wrote that economic competitiveness
had to come first, a reform of public services only second. He defined the
'quality of life' with notions such as safe streets, home ownership and
Leader of the opposition
2005, the first year as Tory leader, was a signal success. Cameron's focus on
the environment achieved the double aim of demonstrating that his party was
changing and that he was capable of tackling emerging issues. For the first time in more
than a decade, the Tories polled consistently ahead of Labour.
When he had campaigned for the party leadership, Cameron had presented himself as if he were already
Tory leader. As leader of the opposition, he behaved as if he had already been
Cameron's opening clash with Tony Blair - just two days after his victory - was not
only brilliant political theatre, but its most memorable sound bite, "Your were
the future once", presaged important elements of Cameron's strategy. In an
interview with the Daily Telegraph, Cameron said that he wanted "to
change the Conservative Party and get us back to the centre ground." Like
Blair, Cameron would only be seen by voters as being at the centre of
British politics if the party's traditional flank was protesting.
In February 2006, Cameron set to work on a mission statement entitled "Built to
Last". It was designed to flush out opponents on the right. Their opposition
would allow Cameron to win both publicity for his message and a mandate for
reform from the grassroots. The right, spotting the trap, remained silent. The
document sank without a trace. It had to be relaunched in August ahead of the
proposed referendum, prompting Labour jeers that it should be re-titled "Built to
Last a Bit Longer." Only 26.6% bothered to vote on the referendum. Blair
a 61% turnout when he had tried the same trick in 1996 with his "New Labour, New Life."
Cameron's decision to renege on his pledge to pull the party out of the
federalist EPP group at the European Parliament undermined his credibility
among some hitherto enthusiastic backers. One anonymous MEP told The Times: "I was personally lied to by David Cameron."
Murdoch went negative on Cameron. For instance in October 2006, he wrote
about Cameron: "He's a P.R. guy. He came out of public relations. He was a lobbyist and P.R. man for
Carlton Television for seven years, and then went into Parliament five years ago,
and that's the only experience of life he's had." According to the
biographers, Murdoch's hostility to Cameron flew from the suspicion that the
Tory leader had pandered to anti-Americanism and was failing to
make the case for a smaller state.
In his New Year's message 2006, Cameron quoted Gandhi: "We must be the change we
want in the world", which sounds to me like Barack Obama.
Cameron had been caught out only once to be hypocrite. He had bicycled to work only recently; he used to have a scooter.
The biographers wrote on that subject: "He was shamelessly
milking the prop for as much publicity as possible. But it went badly wrong in
April when his official chauffeur, Terry, was pictured following behind carrying
his shoes." Cameron admitted that it was a mistake and said: "It happened two or
three times. I now have panniers." It did not deter him from further cycling.
According to the authors, another sign of populism was WebCameron, a YouTube video of the leader washing
up in his kitchen.
Towards the end of Blair's regime, many of the Prime Minister's backroom staff were on good terms with Cameron. Critics suspected mutual admiration.
Robin Harris, Cameron's first boss in politics, a former head of the
Conservative Research Department, was most forthright in his condemnation: "I
don't think that in any way or form he could be described as a Conservative in
philosophical terms. He has no principled sense of direction; his only sense of
direction is upwards. The opportunism he displays is deplorable. I don't think
one should aspire to lead Britain on the basis of day-to-day opinion polls, but
that is how he conducts himself in opposition and, I fear, would conduct himself
if he were ever in Number 10 Downing Street."
Simon Heffer also thought that Cameron was not really a Tory: "The only belief I feel Mr
Cameron hold is in his own ambition. This is helped by the fact that he has
shown himself extremely flexible of principle."
At the 2006 Conservative Party conference, Cameron endorsed homosexual marriage. As
late as 2003, he had voted for the retention of section 28.
For Elliott and Hanning, Cameron's own green credentials showed the zeal of the convert as much as a lifelong
conviction. At university, he had shown interest in his tutor Peter Sinclair's
writings on the economics of global warming. In 2007, Cameron had claimed to have been
influenced by Margaret Thatcher's celebrated Bruges speech of 1988 when,
purportedly, she "went green". The authors write about Cameron: "Yet before he anticipated, helped
create and rode the environmental wave, his concern for green issues ... was,
shall we say, inconspicuous." Nor is there any evidence of Cameron having fought to
save the green elements proposed for the Tories' 2005 manifesto.
The biographers conclude: "The top priority of Cameron's first year as leader was to start
the draining of residual hostility to the Tories for being Tories. Those
who accuse him of selling out, or of having no ideological anchor, miss the
point of this overriding imperative. And there are the hints that a radical
program for public services is being prepared." Cooper wrote an email to Cameron in May 2003: "Once we do get people to believe that we
are sincere - and our values are properly aligned - we can be as robust and
reformist as we like (which George [Osborne] has rightly defined as the core
part of the future Conservative proposition)."
Cameron himself remained unapologetic about his pragmatism. In 2005 he
rejected "ideological" politics in favor of a "practical conservatism."
For his biographers, David Cameron has like Bill Clinton the capacity to be liked. He remains calm under
pressure, appears relaxed and friendly. However, behind his charm there is steel.
Michael Green said: "I think David can be ruthless. I'm sure he's got what it takes
to be Prime Minister."
The biographers are positive. Despite Cameron's path to the top being conventional and conformist,
despite him being clever and
political to his fingertips, they concluded that he was a well-balanced
all-rounder with an instinctual feel for what makes organizations and
individuals tick. His father,
Ian Cameron, had instilled in him an implicit optimism that is beyond doubt,
they wrote. When Ian Cameron died unexpectedly and suddenly after
suffering a stroke while on holiday in France on
September 7, 2010 he was described as a man born with a disability who had inspired
other people, including his son David.
The biographers cite David Cameron's former teacher Andrew Gailey, who said
that Cameron has "the mindset which is crucial to all winners which is the
ability to think of what is to come". It could be the best weapon in the
next election to "pit hope against fear."
Francis Elliott's and James Hanning's biography gets the vaguer the closer it
came to the present, but it was a good first account. They rightly picked
their subject, David Cameron became prime minister.
The source for this article:
Francis Elliott & James Hanning: Cameron: The Rise of the New Conservative.
HarperCollinsPublishers, London, 2007, 342 S. Hardcover. Order the 2007-hardcover edition from
Amazon.de. Order the 2009-paperback edition from
Amazon.de. - David Cameron books at Amazon.co.uk.
Today's deals at Amazon.com.
Special offers on new releases from Amazon.co.uk.
A look beyond the book's time span
It is too early to assess David Cameron's years as prime minister. He
made some courageous cuts to the British welfare state. At the same time,
some of the cuts look like unnecessary cruelty to the weakest in society.
Furthermore, Cameron backtracked on the desperately needed reform of the NHS.
Tony Blair had already failed to tackle the problem, partly sabotaged by
his Chancellor Gordon Brown.
Cameron has not addressed the reform of the financial system, which is vital
for the UK. Some banks remain nationalized. Some banks remain too big to fail and too big to be saved. The
banks in general remain too inter-connected. Many banks still lack the
necessary accountability if something goes wrong.
The choice between Gordon Brown, the dangerous and autistic dilettante, and
David Cameron, the fresh and ambitious face of a young and dynamic Britain, was easy.
But the new Prime Minister has still to deliver on many fronts. The economic
and social problems are far from over.
Francis Elliott & James Hanning: Cameron: The Rise of the New Conservative.
HarperCollinsPublishers, London, 2007, 342 S. Order the 2007-hardcover
Order the 2009-paperback edition from
The book by the two journalists is the primary source for this article. - David
Cameron books at Amazon.co.uk.