Exited Prime Minister David Cameron has, in spectacular fashion, failed to reach the finishing line. He has not won any medals and it is very doubtful that at any time in the future he will be commemorated with a special coin by the Royal Mint. After five years of a shared premiership – teamed with Nick Clegg – and a surprise victory in the 2015 general election, when he assumed sole captaincy, he has retired after a mere thirteen months. His short premiership, for the wrong reasons, will be a footnote in history [ranking with that of Anthony Eden]. Mainly due to over confidence, bordering on arrogance, he has crashed and in the process taken his team with him. Given his record this was entirely predictable, indeed we anticipated and warned in May 2015, that he would come a cropper with two posts [Dave stumbles at first hurdle and Dave set to outpace himself].
Dodgy Dave – the title conferred on him by Dennis Skinner MP, the socialist Beast of Bolsover – will stay with him forever. It is well-earned as he was only too happy to ditch the Conservative Manifesto in 2010 as he formed a liberal team with Nick Clegg. He was then able to blame all his failures on the LibDems, but the impression is this arrangement suited him more as he was able to dismiss the concerns of the traditional wing of his Party. His introduction of same-sex marriage, which he claims as his greatest achievement, will in the course of history be seen as a dangerous experiment that had terrible consequences. He will be on the wrong side of history.
Kenneth Clarke, along with Heseltine and Major, has described his repeated commitment to hold a referendum on the UKs membership of the EU, which he made before the 2015 General Election, as reckless and irresponsible. They would say that as they are the very people who denied voters a say on the direction being taken by the EEC, EC and EU. He does deserve to be remembered for keeping that particular promise to hold a referendum. If he had kept to the rest of his stated game-plan he could have emerged as a national saviour, on a par with the great PMs or even as a George Washington character. There will inevitably be a book or two about his personal disaster. Will he take the blame or will there be a scapegoat – of which there are many likely candidates?
Where did he go wrong?
His first error was to be re-elected as PM and confirm the referendum to be held before the end of 2017.
Having qualified for the final he then rushed his preparations and shortened the finish of the race to 2016, his second error.
Given this shorter race, the Queen’s Speech for his government should have been restricted to low-hurdles, but it contained some high-hurdles, his third error.
His fourth error was to turn the hurdle event in to a relay race, when he announced that he would be handing the baton to a successor before the 2020 qualifiers.
His team selection was his fifth error; George Osborne was his obvious choice and bringing in Boris Johnson (as a potential scapegoat) was fractious when he needed team players not egos.
His sixth error was to pledge reform of the EU when it was obvious that the Brussels team of European leaders were going in the opposite direction.
Following on from that his seventh error was to further pledge his support for leaving the EU if he did not get significant reforms; while that may have been a warning directed at the EU it was also a promise to UK voters.
His eighth error was to change direction when he did not get any reforms (only a special status for the UK) and recommend that the UK remain in the EU.
In February of this year he announced the date of the referendum with a promise to abide by the decision of voters and implement their choice, when he was committed to actively campaigning to remain; his ninth error.
If he had stood back from the campaign he could have come across as statesmanlike, instead he had a low truth rating that was counter productive; his tenth error.
His eleventh error was to underestimate the nationalist teams, who as they say in Glasgow were ‘crusin for a brusin’. While the various nationalist parties were ostensibly motivated to the same outcome, they had different game-plans. They are competing in a marathon event.
He could not accept the result and implement it as promised, the twelfth error. He gave up, resigned, crashed-out.
So we had a mixed hurdles event that became a relay and if everyone had stayed in their lanes it might have resulted in an honourable finish, even though in silver position. When Gove and Johnson switched teams it was a totally different race. This brought out the worse in Dave, who can be vicious with political opponents, even on his own side. The outcome was the rough and tumble of the steeple-chase, with everyone becoming a casualty. The only winners were the British public. And that is how it should always be – more direct democracy and power to the people.
By all accounts David Cameron is polite and courteous in other circumstances. It is obvious that he is a genuine family man who loves his wife and children, and that love is returned. In that respect we can only wish them the best for the future.