Witty, charming and sentimental
So this week I've said goodbye to David Cameron as my Partly Leader and our Prime Minister.
His last Prime Minister’s Questions showcased the politician that he was: Witty, confident, quick on his feet, charming and a little sentimental.
I once visited Chequers and shared my concerns about uncontrolled immigration and he listened respectfully and he would always reply to my infrequent text messages but truth to tell, I’ve never been in his gilded inner circle, was never a true believer, don’t really know him well and notwithstanding our differences - mainly on European policy - it would be churlish and unfair to ignore his successes:
He made the Conservative Party electable after three crushing defeats, championed the role of women in politics, put social policy at the heart of government with initiatives like the Big Society and the National Citizens Service, presided over a record jobs boom, rescued the party from the vicious caricatures of our opponents that we didn’t care about the NHS, tackled welfare dependency with a tough love approach and headed up a successful coalition government for the first time in sixty years. He also led my party to victory in what was seen as an “unwinnable” General Election last year, increasing the number of seats and votes between elections for the first time in over 100 years.
However, like the previous three Conservative Prime Ministers, he was undone by Europe:
David Cameron was and is a decent family man, a patriot, never a radical - but a pragmatic old school Tory who believed in noblesse oblige and the not ignoble concept of selfless public service and he has suffered the bitter pill of family tragedy with the death of a beloved son and father but as a risk taker and the consummate gambler, he broke the number 2 rule in politics (the no 1 is “people lie”), which is simply this:
Never believe your own spin. He had too few people to give him bad news and the unvarnished facts - He thought that his rhetorical gifts and his self belief could win the day and keep us in the European Union and he bet everything on black in the EU referendum last month and it came up red. The referendum campaign (unfairly) diminished him in public esteem but at least he fought hard for a cause he believed in.
It’s true of course that all political careers end in failure but on balance David Cameron leaves a stronger, fairer, safer and happier nation than he found in 2010 and a fine legacy for his successor Theresa May to consolidate.
Goodbye and good luck and thank you for your service to our wonderful country.