From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThis article is about the British prime minister. For other uses, see David Cameron (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
Incumbent Assumed office
11 May 2010
Monarch Elizabeth II Deputy Nick Clegg Preceded by Gordon Brown In office
6 December 2005 – 11 May 2010
Monarch Elizabeth II Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Michael Howard Succeeded by Harriet Harman Incumbent Assumed office
6 December 2005
Preceded by Michael Howard In office
6 May 2005 – 6 December 2005
Leader Michael Howard Preceded by Tim Yeo Succeeded by David Willetts Member of Parliament
Incumbent Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by Shaun Woodward Majority 22,740 (39.4%) Born 9 October 1966 (age 44)
Nationality British Political party Conservative Spouse(s) Samantha Sheffield (m. 1996–present) Relations William Mount
Children Ivan Reginald Ian (deceased)
Florence Rose Endellion
Residence 10 Downing Street (Official) Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford Religion Anglican Website Conservative Party website
David William Donald Cameron (pronunciation: //; born 9 October 1966) is the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the Conservative Party. Cameron represents Witney as its Member of Parliament (MP).
Cameron studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, gaining a first class honours degree. He then joined the Conservative Research Department and became Special Adviser to Norman Lamont, and then to Michael Howard. He was Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications for seven years.
A first candidacy for Parliament at Stafford in 1997 ended in defeat, but Cameron was elected in 2001 as the Member of Parliament for the Oxfordshire constituency of Witney. He was promoted to the Opposition front bench two years later, and rose rapidly to become head of policy co-ordination during the 2005 general election campaign. With a public image of a young, moderate candidate who would appeal to young voters, he won the Conservative leadership election in 2005.
In the 2010 general election held on 6 May, the Conservatives gained a plurality of seats in a hung parliament and Cameron was appointed Prime Minister on 11 May 2010, at the head of a coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. At the age of 43, Cameron became the youngest British Prime Minister since the Earl of Liverpool 198 years earlier. The Cameron Ministry is the first coalition government in the United Kingdom since the Second World War.
FamilyMain article: Family of David Cameron
David Cameron is the younger son of the stockbroker Ian Donald Cameron (12 October 1932 – 8 September 2010) and his wife Mary Fleur (née Mount, born 1934, a retired Justice of the peace, daughter of Sir William Mount, 2nd Baronet). His father, Ian, was born with both legs deformed and underwent repeated operations to correct them. Cameron’s parents married on 20 October 1962. He was born in London, and brought up in Peasemore, Berkshire. Cameron has a brother, Allan Alexander (born 1963, a barrister and QC) and two sisters, Tania Rachel (born 1965) and Clare Louise (born 1971). His father was born at Blairmore House, a mansion near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, and died near Toulon in France on 8 September 2010. Blairmore was built by his great-great-grandfather, Alexander Geddes, who had made a fortune in the grain business in Chicago, and had returned to Scotland in the 1880s. The Cameron family is a member of the ancient Scottish Clan Cameron seated in the Inverness area of the Scottish Highlands.
Cameron is a direct descendant of King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan. This illegitimate line consists of five generations of women on his father’s maternal side starting with Elizabeth Hay, Countess of Erroll née FitzClarence, William and Jordan’s sixth child, through to the fifth female generation Enid Agnes Maud Levita. Cameron’s maternal grandfather was Sir William Mount, 2nd Baronet, an army officer and the High Sheriff of Berkshire, and Cameron’s maternal great-grandfather was Sir William Mount, 1st Baronet, CBE, Conservative MP for Newbury 1918–1922. Lady Ida Matilde Alice Feilding, Cameron’s great-great grandmother, was the daughter of William Feilding, 7th Earl of Denbigh, GCH, PC, a courtier and Gentleman of the Bedchamber.
Cameron’s forebears have a long history in finance. His father Ian was senior partner of the stockbrokers Panmure Gordon, in which firm partnerships had long been held by Cameron’s ancestors, including David’s grandfather and great-grandfather, and was a director of estate agent John D Wood. David Cameron’s great-great grandfather Emile Levita, a German-Jewish financier who obtained British citizenship in 1871, was the director of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China which became Standard Chartered Bank in 1969. His wife, Cameron’s great-great grandmother, was a descendant of the wealthy Danish Jewish Rée family. One of Emile’s sons, Arthur Francis Levita (d.1910) (brother of Sir Cecil Levita), of Panmure Gordon stockbrokers, together with great-great-grandfather Sir Ewen Cameron, London head of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, played key roles in arranging loans supplied by the Rothschilds to the Japanese central banker (later Prime Minister) Takahashi Korekiyo for the financing of the Japanese Government in the Russo-Japanese war. Cameron is the nephew of Sir William Dugdale, brother-in-law of Katherine, Lady Dugdale (died 2004) Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen since 1955, and former chairman of Aston Villa Football Club. Birmingham born documentary film-maker Joshua Dugdale is his cousin.
From the age of seven, Cameron was educated at two independent schools: at Heatherdown Preparatory School at Winkfield, in Berkshire, which counted Prince Andrew and Prince Edward among its alumni. Cameron’s academic ascent at Heatherdown was so great that he entered its top academic class almost two years early. At the age of thirteen, he went on to Eton College in Berkshire, following his father and elder brother. Eton is often described as the most famous independent school in the world, and “the chief nurse of England’s statesmen”. His early interest was in art. Cameron was in trouble as a teenager, six weeks before taking his O-levels, when he was named as having smoked cannabis. Because he admitted the offence and had not been involved in selling drugs, he was not expelled, but he was fined, prevented from leaving school grounds, and given a “Georgic” (a punishment which involved copying 500 lines of Latin text).
Cameron recovered from this episode and passed 12 O-levels, and then studied three A-Levels in History of Art, History and Economics with Politics. He obtained three ‘A’ grades and a ‘1’ grade in the Scholarship Level exam in Economics and Politics. He then stayed on to sit the entrance exam for the University of Oxford, which was sat the following autumn. He passed, did well at interview, and was given a place at Brasenose College, his first choice.
After finally leaving Eton just before Christmas 1984, Cameron had nine months of a gap year before going up to Oxford. In January he began work as a researcher for Tim Rathbone, Conservative MP for Lewes and his godfather, in his Parliamentary office. He was there only for three months, but used the time to attend debates in the House of Commons. Through his father, he was then employed for a further three months in Hong Kong by Jardine Matheson as a ‘ship jumper’, an administrative post for which no experience was needed but which gave him some experience of work.
Returning from Hong Kong he visited Moscow and a Yalta beach in the then Soviet Union, and was at one point approached by two Russian men speaking fluent English. Cameron was later told by one of his professors that it was ‘definitely an attempt’ by the KGB to recruit him.
Cameron then studied at Brasenose College at the University of Oxford, where he read for a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). His tutor at Oxford, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, described him as “one of the ablest” students he has taught, with “moderate and sensible Conservative” political views. When commenting in 2006 on his former pupil’s ideas about a “bill of rights” to replace the Human Rights Act, however, Professor Bogdanor, himself a Liberal Democrat, said, “I think he is very confused. I’ve read his speech and it’s filled with contradictions. There are one or two good things in it but one glimpses them, as it were, through a mist of misunderstanding”.
While at Oxford, Cameron was captain of Brasenose College’s tennis team. He was also a member of the student dining society the Bullingdon Club, which has a reputation for an outlandish drinking culture associated with boisterous behaviour and damaging property. A photograph showing Cameron in a tailcoat with other members of the club, including Boris Johnson, surfaced in 2007, but was later withdrawn by the copyright holder. Cameron’s period in the Bullingdon Club is examined in the Channel 4 docu-drama When Boris Met Dave broadcast on 7 October 2009. He also belonged to the Octagon Club, another dining society. Cameron graduated in 1988 with a first class honours degree. Cameron is still in touch with many of his former Oxford classmates, including Boris Johnson and close family friend, the Reverend James Hand.
Early political career
Conservative Research Department
After graduation, Cameron worked for the Conservative Research Department between September 1988 and 1993. A feature on Cameron in The Mail on Sunday on 18 March 2007 reported that on the day he was due to attend a job interview at Conservative Central Office, a phone call was received from Buckingham Palace. The male caller stated, “I understand you are to see David Cameron. I’ve tried everything I can to dissuade him from wasting his time on politics but I have failed. I am ringing to tell you that you are about to meet a truly remarkable young man.”
In 1991, Cameron was seconded to Downing Street to work on briefing John Major for his then bi-weekly session of Prime Minister’s Questions. One newspaper gave Cameron the credit for “sharper … despatch box performances” by Major, which included highlighting for Major “a dreadful piece of doublespeak” by Tony Blair (then the Labour Employment spokesman) over the effect of a national minimum wage. He became head of the political section of the Conservative Research Department, and in August 1991 was tipped to follow Judith Chaplin as Political Secretary to the Prime Minister.
Cameron lost out, however, to Jonathan Hill, who was appointed in March 1992. He was given the responsibility for briefing John Major for his press conferences during the 1992 general election. During the campaign, Cameron was one of the young “brat pack” of party strategists who worked between 12 and 20 hours a day, sleeping in the house of Alan Duncan in Gayfere Street, Westminster, which had been Major’s campaign headquarters during his bid for the Conservative leadership. Cameron headed the economic section; it was while working on this campaign that Cameron first worked closely with Steve Hilton, who was later to become Director of Strategy during his party leadership. The strain of getting up at 4:45 am every day was reported to have led Cameron to decide to leave politics in favour of journalism.
The Conservatives’ unexpected success in the 1992 election led Cameron to hit back at older party members who had criticised him and his colleagues. He was quoted as saying, the day after the election, “whatever people say about us, we got the campaign right,” and that they had listened to their campaign workers on the ground rather than the newspapers. He revealed he had led other members of the team across Smith Square to jeer at Transport House, the former Labour headquarters. Cameron was rewarded with a promotion to Special Advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lamont.
Cameron was working for Lamont at the time of Black Wednesday, when pressure from currency speculators forced the Pound sterling out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Cameron, who was unknown to the public at the time, can be spotted at Lamont’s side in news film of the latter’s announcement of British withdrawal from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism that evening. At the 1992 Conservative Party conference in October, Cameron had a tough time trying to arrange to brief the speakers in the economic debate, having to resort to putting messages on the internal television system imploring the mover of the motion, Patricia Morris, to contact him. Later that month Cameron joined a delegation of Special Advisers who visited Germany to build better relations with the Christian Democratic Union; he was reported to be “still smarting” over the Bundesbank‘s contribution to the economic crisis.
Cameron’s boss Norman Lamont fell out with John Major after Black Wednesday and became highly unpopular with the public. Taxes needed to be raised in the 1993 budget, and Cameron fed the options Lamont was considering through to Conservative Central Office for their political acceptability to be assessed. However, Lamont’s unpopularity did not necessarily affect Cameron: he was considered as a potential “kamikaze” candidate for the Newbury by-election, which included the area where he grew up. However, Cameron decided not to stand.
During the by-election, Lamont gave the response “Je ne regrette rien” to a question about whether he most regretted claiming to see “the green shoots of recovery” or admitted “singing in his bath” with happiness at leaving the ERM. Cameron was identified by one journalist as having inspired this gaffe; it was speculated that the heavy Conservative defeat in Newbury may have cost Cameron his chance of becoming Chancellor himself (even though as he was not a Member of Parliament he could not have been). Lamont was sacked at the end of May 1993, and decided not to write the usual letter of resignation; Cameron was given the responsibility to issue to the press a statement of self-justification.
After Lamont was sacked, Cameron remained at the Treasury for less than a month before being specifically recruited by Home Secretary Michael Howard; it was commented that he was still “very much in favour”. It was later reported that many at the Treasury would have preferred Cameron to carry on. At the beginning of September 1993, Cameron applied to go on Conservative Central Office’s list of Parliamentary candidates.
According to Derek Lewis, then Director-General of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, Cameron showed him a “his and hers list” of proposals made by Howard and his wife, Sandra. Lewis said that Sandra Howard‘s list included reducing the quality of prison food, although Sandra Howard denied this claim. Lewis reported that Cameron was “uncomfortable” about the list. In defending Sandra Howard and insisting that she made no such proposal, the journalist Bruce Anderson wrote that Cameron had proposed a much shorter definition on prison catering which revolved around the phrase “balanced diet”, and that Lewis had written thanking Cameron for a valuable contribution.
During his work for Howard, Cameron often briefed the press. In March 1994, someone leaked to the press that the Labour Party had called for a meeting with John Major to discuss a consensus on the Prevention of Terrorism Act. After a leak inquiry failed to find the culprit, Labour MP Peter Mandelson demanded an assurance from Howard that Cameron had not been responsible, which Howard gave. A senior Home Office civil servant noted the influence of Howard’s Special Advisers saying previous incumbents “would listen to the evidence before making a decision. Howard just talks to young public school gentlemen from the party headquarters.”
In July 1994, Cameron left his role as Special Adviser to work as the Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications. Carlton, which had won the ITV franchise for London weekdays in 1991, was a growing media company which also had film distribution and video producing arms. In 1997 Cameron played up the company’s prospects for digital terrestrial television, for which it joined with Granada television and BSkyB to form British Digital Broadcasting. In a roundtable discussion on the future of broadcasting in 1998 he criticised the effect of overlapping different regulators on the industry.
Carlton’s consortium did win the digital terrestrial franchise but the resulting company suffered difficulties in attracting subscribers. In 1999 the Express on Sunday newspaper claimed Cameron had rubbished one of its stories which had given an accurate number of subscribers, because he wanted the number to appear higher than expected. Cameron resigned as Director of Corporate Affairs in February 2001 in order to fight for election to Parliament, although he remained on the payroll as a consultant.
Having been approved for the candidates’ list, Cameron began looking for a seat. He was reported to have missed out on selection for Ashford in December 1994 after failing to get to the selection meeting as a result of train delays. Early in 1996, he was selected for Stafford, a new constituency created in boundary changes, which was projected to have a Conservative majority. At the 1996 Conservative Party conference he called for tax cuts in the forthcoming budget to be targeted at the low paid and to “small businesses where people took money out of their own pockets to put into companies to keep them going”. He also said the party, “Should be proud of the Tory tax record but that people needed reminding of its achievements … It’s time to return to our tax cutting agenda. The socialist Prime Ministers of Europe have endorsed Tony Blair because they want a federal pussy cat and not a British lion.”
When writing his election address, Cameron made his own opposition to British membership of the single European currency clear, pledging not to support it. This was a break with official Conservative policy but about 200 other candidates were making similar declarations. Otherwise, Cameron kept very closely to the national party line. He also campaigned using the claim that a Labour government would increase the cost of a pint of beer by 24p; however the Labour candidate David Kidney portrayed Cameron as “a right-wing Tory”. Stafford had a swing almost the same as the national swing, which made it one of the many seats to fall to Labour: David Kidney had a majority of 4,314. In the round of selection contests taking place in the run-up to the 2001 general election, Cameron again attempted to be selected for a winnable seat. He tried out for the Kensington and Chelsea seat after the death of Alan Clark, but did not make the shortlist.
On 4 April 2000 Cameron was selected as prospective candidate for Witney in Oxfordshire. This was a safe Conservative seat but its sitting MP Shaun Woodward (who had worked with Cameron on the 1992 election campaign) had joined the Labour Party; newspapers claimed Cameron and Woodward had “loathed each other”, although Cameron’s biographers Francis Elliott and James Hanning describe them as being “on fairly friendly terms”. Cameron put a great deal of effort into “nursing” his constituency, turning up at social functions, and attacked Woodward for changing his mind on fox hunting to support a ban.
During the election campaign, Cameron accepted the offer of writing a regular column for The Guardian‘s online section. He won the seat with a 1.9% swing to the Conservatives and a majority of 7,973.
Member of Parliament
Upon his election to Parliament, he served as a member of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, a plum appointment for a newly elected Member. It was Cameron’s proposal that the Committee launch an inquiry into the law on drugs, and during the inquiry he urged the consideration of “radical options”. The report recommended a downgrading of Ecstasy from Class A to Class B, as well as moves towards a policy of ‘harm reduction‘, which Cameron defended.
Cameron determinedly attempted to increase his public profile, offering quotations on matters of public controversy. He opposed the payment of compensation to Gurbux Singh, who had resigned as head of the Commission for Racial Equality after a confrontation with the police; and commented that the Home Affairs Select Committee had taken a long time to discuss whether the phrase “black market” should be used. However, he was passed over for a front bench promotion in July 2002; Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith did invite Cameron and his ally George Osborne to coach him on Prime Minister’s Questions in November 2002. The next week, Cameron deliberately abstained in a vote on allowing same-sex and unmarried couples to adopt children jointly, against a whip to oppose; his abstention was noted. The wide scale of abstentions and rebellious votes destabilised the Iain Duncan Smith leadership.
In June 2003, Cameron was appointed as a shadow minister in the Privy Council Office as a deputy to Eric Forth, who was then Shadow Leader of the House. He also became a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party when Michael Howard took over the leadership in November of that year. He was appointed as the Opposition frontbench local government spokesman in 2004, before being promoted into the shadow cabinet that June as head of policy co-ordination. Later, he became Shadow Education Secretary in the post-election reshuffle.
Leadership of the Conservative Party
Leadership electionMain article: Conservative Party (UK) leadership election, 2005
Following the Labour victory in the May 2005 General Election, Michael Howard announced his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party and set a lengthy timetable for the leadership election, as part of a plan (subsequently rejected) to change the leadership election rules.
Cameron announced formally that he would be a candidate for the position on 29 September 2005. Parliamentary colleagues supporting him initially included Boris Johnson, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, then Shadow Defence Secretary and deputy leader of the party Michael Ancram, Oliver Letwin and former party leader William Hague. Despite this, his campaign did not gain significant support prior to the 2005 Conservative Party Conference. However his speech, delivered without notes, proved a significant turning point. In the speech he vowed to make people, “feel good about being Conservatives again” and said he wanted, “to switch on a whole new generation.”
In the first ballot of Conservative MPs on 18 October 2005, Cameron came second, with 56 votes, slightly more than expected; David Davis had fewer than predicted at 62 votes; Liam Fox came third with 42 votes and Kenneth Clarke was eliminated with 38 votes. In the second ballot on 20 October 2005, Cameron came first with 90 votes; David Davis was second, with 57, and Liam Fox was eliminated with 51 votes. All 198 Conservative MPs voted in both ballots.
The next stage of the election process, between Davis and Cameron, was a vote open to the entire Conservative party membership. Cameron was elected with more than twice as many votes as Davis and more than half of all ballots issued; Cameron won 134,446 votes on a 78% turnout, beating Davis’s 64,398 votes. Although Davis had initially been the favourite, it was widely acknowledged that Davis’s candidacy was marred by a disappointing conference speech, whilst Cameron’s was well received. Cameron’s election as the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition was announced on 6 December 2005. As is customary for an Opposition leader not already a member, upon election Cameron became a member of the Privy Council, being formally approved to join on 14 December 2005, and sworn of the Council on 8 March 2006.
Reaction to Cameron as leader
Cameron’s relatively young age and inexperience before becoming leader have invited satirical comparison with Tony Blair. Private Eye soon published a picture of both leaders on their front cover, with the caption “World’s first face transplant a success”. On the left, New Statesman has unfavourably likened his “new style of politics” to Tony Blair’s early leadership years. Cameron is accused of paying excessive attention to image, with ITV News broadcasting footage from the 2006 Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth which showed him wearing four different sets of clothes within the space of a few hours. Cameron was characterised in a Labour Party political broadcast as “Dave the Chameleon“, who would change what he said to match the expectations of his audience. Cameron later claimed that the broadcast had become his daughter’s “favourite video”. He has also been described by comedy writer and broadcaster Charlie Brooker as being “like a hollow Easter egg with no bag of sweets inside” in his Guardian column.
On the right, Norman Tebbit, former Chairman of the Conservative Party, has likened Cameron to Pol Pot, “intent on purging even the memory of Thatcherism before building a New Modern Compassionate Green Globally Aware Party”. Quentin Davies MP, who defected from the Conservatives to Labour on 26 June 2007, branded him “superficial, unreliable and [with] an apparent lack of any clear convictions” and stated that David Cameron had turned the Conservative Party’s mission into a “PR agenda”. Traditionalist conservative columnist and author Peter Hitchens has written that, “Mr Cameron has abandoned the last significant difference between his party and the established left”, by embracing social liberalism and has dubbed the party under his leadership “Blue Labour”, a pun on New Labour. Cameron responded by calling Hitchens a “maniac”.
Daily Telegraph correspondent and blogger Gerald Warner has been particularly scathing about Cameron’s leadership, arguing that it is alienating traditionalist conservative elements from the Conservative Party.
Cameron is reported to be known to friends and family as ‘Dave’ rather than David, although he invariably uses ‘David’ in public. However, critics of Cameron often refer to him as “Call me Dave” in an attempt to imply populism in the same way as “Call me Tony” was used in 1997. The Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein has condemned those who attempt to belittle Cameron by calling him ‘Dave’.
Shadow Cabinet appointments
His Shadow Cabinet appointments have included MPs associated with the various wings of the party. Former leader William Hague was appointed to the Foreign Affairs brief, while both George Osborne and David Davis were retained, as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Shadow Home Secretary respectively. Hague, assisted by Davis, stood in for Cameron during his paternity leave in February 2006. In June 2008 Davis announced his intention to resign as an MP, and was immediately replaced as Shadow Home Secretary by Dominic Grieve, the surprise move seen as a challenge to the changes introduced under Cameron’s leadership.
In January 2009 a reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet was undertaken. The chief change was the appointment of former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke as Shadow Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Secretary, David Cameron stating that “With Ken Clarke’s arrival, we now have the best economic team.” The reshuffle saw eight other changes made.
Cameron has commented on the challenge of appointing cabinet members: “One of the most difficult parts of the job is colleague-management. And moving people in and out of the shadow cabinet is very difficult but it absolutely has to be done. You must not dodge it, you must not duck it.”
During his successful campaign to be elected Leader of the Conservative Party, Cameron pledged that under his leadership the Conservative Party’s Members of the European Parliament would leave the European People’s Party group, which had a “federalist” approach to the European Union. Once elected Cameron began discussions with right-wing and eurosceptic parties in other European countries, mainly in eastern Europe, and in July 2006 he concluded an agreement to form the Movement for European Reform with the Czech Civic Democratic Party, leading to the formation of a new European Parliament group, the European Conservatives and Reformists, in 2009 after the European Parliament elections. Cameron attended a gathering at Warsaw‘s Palladium cinema celebrating the foundation of the alliance.
In forming the caucus, containing a total of 54 MEPs drawn from eight of the 27 EU member states, Cameron reportedly broke with two decades of Conservative cooperation with the centre-right Christian democrats, the European People’s Party (EPP), on the grounds that they are dominated by European federalists and supporters of the Lisbon treaty. EPP leader Wilfried Martens, former prime minister of Belgium, has stated “Cameron’s campaign has been to take his party back to the centre in every policy area with one major exception: Europe. … I can’t understand his tactics. Merkel and Sarkozy will never accept his Euroscepticism.” The left-wing New Statesman magazine reported that the US administration had “concerns about Cameron among top members of the team” and quoted David Rothkopf in saying that the issue “makes Cameron an even more dubious choice to be Britain’s next prime minister than he was before and, should he attain that post, someone about whom the Obama administration ought to be very cautious.”
In 2010, at a visit in Turkey, he made it clear he wanted to “fight” for the country’s accession to the European Union. He claimed that those who oppose Turkey’s membership of the European Union were driven by “protectionism, narrow nationalism or prejudice”, and that the country was “vital for our economy, vital for our security and vital for our diplomacy”.
2010 general election
At the 2010 general election on 6 May, Cameron led the Conservatives to their best performance since the 1992 election (the last time the Conservatives had won), with the largest number of seats (306) but still 20 seats short of an overall majority, resulting in the nation’s first hung parliament since February 1974. Talks between Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg led to an agreed Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.
Prime MinisterMain article: Premiership of David Cameron
On 11 May 2010, following the resignation of Gordon Brown as Prime Minister and on his recommendation, Queen Elizabeth II invited Cameron to form a government. At age 43, Cameron became the youngest British Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool, who was appointed in 1812. In his first address outside 10 Downing Street, he announced his intention to form a coalition government, the first since the Second World War, with the Liberal Democrats.
Cameron outlined how he intended to “put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and for the national interest.” As one of his first moves Cameron appointed Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, as Deputy Prime Minister on 11 May 2010. Between them, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats control 363 seats in the House of Commons, with a majority of 76 seats. On 2 June 2010, Cameron took his first session of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) as Prime Minister, he began by offering his support and condolences to those affected by the shootings in Cumbria.
On 5 February 2011, the Cameron criticised the failure of ‘state multiculturalism’, in his first speech as PM on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism.
Policies and viewsMain article: Political positions of David Cameron
Self-description of views
Cameron describes himself as a “modern compassionate conservative” and has spoken of a need for a new style of politics, saying that he was “fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster“. He has stated that he is “certainly a big Thatcher fan, but I don’t know whether that makes me a Thatcherite.” He has also claimed to be a “liberal Conservative”, and “not a deeply ideological person.” As Leader of the Opposition, Cameron stated that he did not intend to oppose the government as a matter of course, and would offer his support in areas of agreement. He has urged politicians to concentrate more on improving people’s happiness and “general well-being”, instead of focusing solely on “financial wealth”. There have been claims that he described himself to journalists at a dinner during the leadership contest as the “heir to Blair”. He believes that British Muslims have a duty to integrate into British culture, but notes that they find aspects such as high divorce rates and drug use uninspiring, and notes that “Not for the first time, I found myself thinking that it is mainstream Britain which needs to integrate more with the British Asian way of life, not the other way around.”
Daniel Finkelstein has said of the period leading up to Cameron’s election as leader of the Conservative party that “a small group of us (myself, David Cameron, George Osborne, Michael Gove, Nick Boles, Nick Herbert I think, once or twice) used to meet up in the offices of Policy Exchange, eat pizza, and consider the future of the Conservative Party”.
Cameron co-operated with Dylan Jones, giving him interviews and access, to enable him to produce the book Cameron on Cameron.
Divisive Parliamentary votes
In November 2001, David Cameron voted to modify legislation allowing people detained at a police station to be fingerprinted and searched for an identifying birthmark to be applicable only in connection with a terrorism investigation. In March 2002, he voted against banning the hunting of wild mammals with dogs, being an occasional hunter himself. In April 2003, he voted against the introduction of a bill to ban smoking in restaurants. In June 2003, he voted against NHS Foundation Trusts. Also in 2003, he voted to keep the controversial Section 28 clause.
In March 2003, he voted against a motion that the case had not yet been made for the Iraq War, and then supported using “all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction“. In October 2003, however, he voted in favour of setting up a judicial inquiry into the Iraq War. In October 2004, he voted in favour of the Civil Partnership Bill. In February 2005, he voted in favour of changing the text in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill from “The Secretary of State may make a control order against an individual” to “The Secretary of State may apply to the court for a control order …” In October 2005, he voted against the Identity Cards Bill.
Criticism of other parties and politicians
Cameron criticised Gordon Brown (when Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer) for being “an analogue politician in a digital age” and referred to him as “the roadblock to reform”. He has also said that John Prescott “clearly looks a fool” in light of allegations of ministerial misconduct. During a speech to the Ethnic Media Conference on 29 November 2006, Cameron also described Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, as an “ageing far left politician” in reference to Livingstone’s views on multiculturalism.
Cameron has accused the United Kingdom Independence Party of being “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly,” leading UKIP leader Nigel Farage to demand an apology for the remarks. Right-wing Conservative MP Bob Spink, who later defected to UKIP, also criticised the remarks, as did the Daily Telegraph.
Cameron was seen encouraging Conservative MPs to join the standing ovation given to Tony Blair at the end of his last Prime Minister’s Question Time; he had paid tribute to the “huge efforts” Blair had made and said Blair had “considerable achievements to his credit, whether it is peace in Northern Ireland or his work in the developing world, which will endure”.
In 2006, Cameron made a speech in which he described extremist Islamic organisations and the British National Party as “mirror images” to each other, both preaching “creeds of pure hatred”. Cameron is listed as being a supporter of Unite Against Fascism.
Cameron, in late 2009, urged the Lib Dems to join the Conservatives in a new “national movement” arguing there was “barely a cigarette paper” between them on a large number of issues. The invitation was rejected by the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, who attacked Cameron at the start of his party’s annual conference in Bournemouth, saying that the Conservatives were totally different from his party and that the Lib Dems were the true “progressives” in UK politics.
Allegations of social elitism
While Leader of the Conservative Party, Cameron has been accused of reliance on “old-boy networks” and attacked by his party for the imposition of selective shortlists of prospective parliamentary candidates. He has also expressed admiration for “brazenly elitist” approaches in teaching reflected in controversial Conservative Party plans for education.
‘Old-boy networks’ and ‘class war’
The Guardian has accused Cameron of relying on “the most prestigious of old-boy networks in his attempt to return the Tories to power”, pointing out that three members of his shadow cabinet and 15 members of his front bench team were “Old Etonians“. Similarly, The Sunday Times has commented that “David Cameron has more Etonians around him than any leader since Macmillan” and asked whether he can “represent Britain from such a narrow base.” Former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears has said of Cameron, “You have to wonder about a man who surrounds himself with so many people who went to the same school. I’m pretty sure I don’t want 21st-century Britain run by people who went to just one school.”
Some supporters of the party have accused Cameron’s government for cronyism on the front benches, with Sir Tom Cowie, working-class founder of Arriva and former Conservative donor, ceasing his donations in August 2007 due to disillusionment with Cameron’s leadership, saying, “the Tory party seems to be run now by Old Etonians and they don’t seem to understand how other people live.” In reply, Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said when a party was changing, “there will always be people who are uncomfortable with that process”.
In a response to Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions in December 2009, Gordon Brown addressed the Conservative Party’s inheritance tax policy, saying it “seems to have been dreamed up on the playing fields of Eton”. This led to open discussion of “class war” by the mainstream media and leading politicians of both major parties, with speculation that the 2010 general election campaign would see the Labour Party highlight the backgrounds of senior Conservative politicians.
Imposition of shortlists for parliamentary candidates
Similarly, Cameron’s initial “A-List” of prospective parliamentary candidates has been attacked by members of his party, with the policy now having been discontinued in favour of gender balanced final shortlists. These have been criticised by senior Conservative MP and Prisons Spokeswoman Ann Widdecombe as an “insult to women”, Widdecombe accusing Cameron of “storing up huge problems for the future.” The plans have since led to conflict in a number of constituencies, including the widely reported resignation of Joanne Cash, a close friend of Cameron, as candidate in the constituency of Westminster North following a dispute described as “a battle for the soul of the Tory Party”.
Restrictions on entry to teaching
At the launch of the Conservative Party’s education manifesto in January 2010, Cameron declared an admiration for the “brazenly elitist” approach to education of countries such as Singapore and South Korea and expressed a desire to “elevate the status of teaching in our country”. He suggested the adoption of more stringent criteria for entry to teaching and offered repayment of the loans of maths and science graduates obtaining first or 2.1 degrees from “good” universities. Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said “The message that the Conservatives are sending to the majority of students is that if you didn’t go to a university attended by members of the Shadow Cabinet, they don’t believe you’re worth as much.” In response to the manifesto as a whole, Chris Keates, head of teaching union NASUWT, said teachers would be left “shocked, dismayed and demoralised” and warned of the potential for strikes as a result.
In April 2009, The Independent reported that in 1989, while Nelson Mandela remained imprisoned under the apartheid regime, David Cameron had accepted a trip to South Africa paid for by an anti-sanctions lobby firm. A spokesperson for Cameron responded by saying that the Conservative Party was at that time opposed to sanctions against South Africa and that his trip was a fact-finding mission. However, the newspaper reported that Cameron’s then superior at Conservative Research Department called the trip “jolly”, saying that “it was all terribly relaxed, just a little treat, a perk of the job. The Botha regime was attempting to make itself look less horrible, but I don’t regard it as having been of the faintest political consequence.” Cameron distanced himself from his party’s history of opposing sanctions against the regime. He was criticised by Labour MP Peter Hain, himself an anti-apartheid campaigner.
Turkey and Israel
Barry Rubin criticised Cameron’s foreign policy in the Middle East, and mocked his positions towards Turkey, stating this is the “gist of Cameron’s blatherings:”“Turkey is 100 per cent right, I have no criticism of Hamas, we should accept a permanent revolutionary Islamist terrorist, genocidal statelet on the Mediterranean. And we can ignore Turkey’s pro-Hamas policy and provocative behavior because without abandoning that approach Turkey can still play a productive role”
Zalman Shoval, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations said, David Cameron “apparently believes that by condemning Israel, he could “curry favor with Erdogan”, and buy “protection against terrorism in his own country.”
Allegations of recreational drug use
During the leadership election, allegations were made that Cameron had used cannabis and cocaine recreationally before becoming an MP. Pressed on this point during the BBC programme Question Time, Cameron expressed the view that everybody was allowed to “err and stray” in their past. His refusal to deny consumption of either cannabis or cocaine prior to his parliamentary career has been interpreted as a tacit admission that he has in fact consumed both of these illegal drugs. During his 2005 Conservative leadership campaign he addressed the question of drug consumption by remarking that “I did lots of things before I came into politics which I shouldn’t have done. We all did.”
Cameron as a cyclist
He regularly uses his bicycle to commute to work. In early 2006 he was photographed cycling to work followed by his driver in a car carrying his belongings. His Conservative Party spokesperson subsequently said that this was a regular arrangement for Cameron at the time.
Standing in opinion polls
In the first month of Cameron’s leadership, the Conservative Party’s standing in opinion polls rose, with several pollsters placing it ahead of the ruling Labour Party. While the Conservative and Labour parties drew even in early spring 2006, following the May 2006 local elections various polls once again generally showed Conservative leads.
When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister on 27 June 2007, Labour moved ahead and its ratings grew steadily at Cameron’s expense, an ICM poll in July showing Labour with a seven point lead in the wake of controversies over his policies. An ICM poll in September saw Cameron rated the least popular of the three main party leaders. A YouGov poll for Channel 4 one week later, after the Labour Party conference, extended the Labour lead to 11 points, prompting further speculation of an early election.
Following the Conservative Party conference in the first week of October 2007, The Guardian reported that the Conservatives had drawn level with Labour on 38%. When Gordon Brown declared he would not call an election for the autumn, a decline in Brown and Labour’s standings followed. At the end of the year a series of polls showed improved support for the Conservatives, with an ICM poll giving them an 11 point lead over Labour. This decreased slightly in early 2008, yet in March a YouGov survey for The Sunday Times reported that Conservatives had their largest lead in opinion polls since October 1987, at 16 points. In May 2008, following the worst local election performance from the Labour Party in 40 years, a YouGov survey on behalf of The Sun showed the Conservative lead up to 26 points, the largest since 1968.
In December 2008, a ComRes poll showed the Conservative lead had decreased dramatically to a single point, though by February 2009 it had recovered to reach 12 points. A period of relative stability in the polls was broken in mid-December 2009 by a Guardian/ICM poll showing the Conservative lead down to nine points, triggering discussion of a possible hung parliament. In January 2010, a BPIX survey for The Mail on Sunday showed the lead unchanged.
Cameron married Samantha Gwendoline Sheffield, the daughter of Sir Reginald Adrian Berkeley Sheffield, 8th Baronet and Annabel Lucy Veronica Jones (now the Viscountess Astor), on 1 June 1996 at the Church of St. Augustine of Canterbury, East Hendred, Oxfordshire. The Camerons have had four children. Their first child, Ivan Reginald Ian, was born on 8 April 2002 in Hammersmith and Fulham, London, with a rare combination of cerebral palsy and a form of severe epilepsy called Ohtahara syndrome, requiring round-the-clock care. Recalling the receipt of this news, Cameron is quoted as saying: “The news hits you like a freight train… You are depressed for a while because you are grieving for the difference between your hopes and the reality. But then you get over that, because he’s wonderful.” Ivan died at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, on 25 February 2009, aged six.
The Camerons have two daughters, Nancy Gwen (born 2004), and Florence Rose Endellion (born 24th August 2010), and a son, Arthur Elwen (born 2006). Cameron took paternity leave when his second son was born, and this decision received broad coverage. It was also stated that Cameron would be taking paternity leave after his second daughter was born. His second daughter, Florence Rose Endellion, was born on 24 August 2010, three weeks prematurely, while the family was on holiday in Cornwall. Her third given name, Endellion, is taken from the village of St Endellion near where the Camerons were holidaying.
A Daily Mail article from June 2007 quoted Sunday Times Rich List compiler Philip Beresford, who had valued the Conservative leader for the first time, as saying: “I put the combined family wealth of David and Samantha Cameron at £30 million plus. Both sides of the family are extremely wealthy.” Another estimate is £3.2 million, though this figure excludes the million-pound legacies Cameron is expected to inherit from both sides of his family.
In early May 2008, David Cameron decided to enroll his daughter Nancy at a state school. The Camerons had been attending its associated church, which is near to the Cameron family home in North Kensington, for three years.
Cameron’s bicycle was stolen in May 2009 while he was shopping. It was recovered with the aid of The Sunday Mirror. His bicycle has since been stolen again from near his house. He is an occasional jogger and has raised funds for charities by taking part in the Oxford 5K and the Great Brook Run.
On 8 September 2010 it was announced that Cameron would miss Prime Minister’s Questions in order to fly to southern France to see his father (Ian Cameron) who had suffered a stroke with coronary complications. Later that day, Ian Cameron died.
On 17 September 2010, David Cameron attended a private ceremony for the funeral of his father in Berkshire, meaning he missed the address of the Pope to Westminster Hall, an occasion he would have otherwise have been in attendance to.
Speaking of his religious beliefs, Cameron has said: “I’ve a sort of fairly classic Church of England faith”. He states that his politics “is not faith-driven”, adding: “I am a Christian, I go to church, I believe in God, but I do not have a direct line.” On religious faith in general he has said: “I do think that organised religion can get things wrong but the Church of England and the other churches do play a very important role in society.”
Questioned as to whether his faith had ever been tested, Cameron spoke of the birth of his severely disabled eldest son, saying: “You ask yourself, ‘If there is a God, why can anything like this happen?'” He went on to state that in some ways the experience had “strengthened” his beliefs.
- David Cameron Esq (1966–2001)
- David Cameron Esq MP (2001–2005)
- The Rt Hon David Cameron MP (2005—)
[show]Ancestors of David Cameron
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