Cameron was a very successful Prime Minister – if you measure success in terms of securing the approval of the ‘modern establishment’ .
Despite risking all with a throw of the referendum dice, he’s managed the trick of keeping the modern elite happy. Just.
Who’d have believed two weeks ago that he’d be bowing out to chummy parliamentary backslapping with family friendly tears and smiles for the media?
What a contrast to his reviled predecessor (anyone remember that angry man who popped up in the Brexit debate?), who arguably left the country and the economy in a much healthier state.
How does this proverbial wobbly man do it, exiting Number 10 with no blood on his hands? He should have been creeping out of the back door in disgrace.
For on his watch the country has descended to a level of turmoil, ill feeling and division not seen since Suez.
But never forget that ‘call me Dave’ came into office a PR man. He left in the same suit, metaphorically speaking, all chipper and dandy with ‘a safe pair hands’ on the rudder what’s more – to the establishment’s relief after all the Brexit furore, back-stabbing and resignations of the last two weeks.
The King is Dead. Long Live the King. Not quite. The crisis of confidence in contemporary politics long in the making and exacerbated on Cameron’s watch is still there.
What I wonder would Mr Cameron or Mr Clegg have said had they known, back then in the Rose Garden in 2010, that Brexit would be the price they would pay for ramming through their liberal social agenda – gay marriage, paternity leave, victim rights, identity politics?
Would he have still risked it for modern popularity amongst those who mattered? This was what his party leadership bid was about – to be loved – to make the Tories loved by the media. They must never be the nasty party (thank Theresa for that) and their continued crucifixion by the left liberal metrosexual media and the BBC in particular had to stop. A PR nightmare.
If in the process, he alienated his grassroots and undermined the social and economic conservatism on which society thrives, never mind. Better to be rid of them – a necessary sacrifice for the survival of the Conservative Party.
For David, as well as Oliver Letwin, Francis Maude and sundry others wanted it to be known they too were part of modern culture – sex, drugs and rock ’n roll. Approve of us, they begged the left liberal media. Let us join your gang (despite our name); we’ll behave and take your ‘progressive’ cultural agenda ‘forward’. Promise.
Gosh how much easier than challenging modern orthodoxies (however destructive and costly those might be to society). How much easier to go for popular excess not old fashioned restraint. How much easier than questioning the BBC’s bias on the cost and risks of our EU membership, or taking on their anti-Tory vitriol; how much easier than telling emergent victim groups that the common good should come first; how very much easier to become the standard bearer of their competing claims and of the culture of complaint.
Five years of hug a hoodie politics followed, five years of Messrs Clegg and Cameron, the State’s dads, offering ever more childcare, more early intervention, and more social mobility promises, and being nice. Then reality – the General Election.
And it was time for Mr Cameron to remember his alienated grassroots – many already lost to Ukip. And nothing less than a promise of a referendum on the EU would do.
His campaign selling point? That only the Conservatives would or could deliver an EU referendum. It won it for him – just. Tories fearful of a Labour and SNP axis also fell into line. The votes weren’t for Dave or his ‘cool’ agenda.
Mr Cameron had little choice but to deliver on his promise. Old fashioned Conservative economic responsibly and austerity speak began to open up the fault lines of social discontent and division (between the political parties and the country, within the country and within the parties). Would he even deliver on his referendum promise? Cynicism abounded.
The rift exposed by the referendum result was already there. And one year on from the election Mr Cameron is gone – because those same voters ignored what he argued for on the EU issue.
So what of his legacy? Arguably he and George Osborne have steadied the economic ship – they have kept the balls in the air, though missed all their deficit reduction targets.
2.5 million more in employment sounds good but a large number of those jobs have gone to the newly arrived immigrants of the last 6 years, benefitting the Remainer elite rather than the Brexit poor, whose wages immigration has depressed. Cameron promised to cut immigration to tens of thousands without ever accepting the logic of his pledge – that it was unachievable without withdrawal from the EU.
If the underclass is marginally smaller thanks to Osborne’s benefit cap, more of the middle classes have dropped into poverty. The collapse of marriage has spread from working to middle classes – thanks to the continuation of modern feminist inspired single living /state dependent tax and benefits policies.
This is a disaster that the Conservative should and could have halted had they not minded offending Hampstead liberals.
It has left children, boys in particular, suffering from a fatherhood crisis and men ever more marginalised in the economy and from family and society.
Nothing, of course, that Mr Cameron’s philanthropic backers and North London do-gooders can’t fix. Don’t they just love it. A peerage for their efforts, their own elite lifestyle and power base secure.
So despite the odds David Cameron leaves smiling, having navigated the rapids – he’s made the Conservative Party nicer and saved it – for the time being.
What’s more his vacancy has been filled – by just the person to keep a steady hand on the rudder, Dave’ gay marriage ally, one Mrs May, another moderniser.
History, however, may not be so kind. His modernising preoccupation has riven the country in more ways than one – pitting the poor against the elite who can afford it.
When the penny drops – that an anti-establishment vote on June 23rd ended up with just another modern establishment choice of PM, 17.4 million may feel even sorer.
Then David Cameron’s epitaph may read – he modernised his party at the expense of his nation’s needs.