Historians’ verdict on David Cameron

Historians in the News
tags: David Cameron



Ian Kershaw: ‘It ended in disastrous failure’

David Cameron came into office at a difficult time, in the aftermath of the financial crash. He left at another difficult time, immediately after Brexit. In the intervening six years his record was patchy. Far more was promised than was achieved.

Nothing came of the “big society”, a largely empty slogan that quietly disappeared. His government imposed the bedroom tax, which penalised people at the bottom of the pile while doing little to erase large-scale tax evasion by the rich and by big corporate enterprises. The economy was stabilised, but ordinary people paid most of the price in deteriorating public services. For all the talk of “we are all in it together”, the sense of “us and them” grew, along with the widening disparity of wealth. Britain became a more divided, more embittered nation on his watch.

He represented Britain effectively for the most part on the international stage, though intervention in Libya left that country in a lasting and dangerous mess. He was a highly articulate speaker, and often a generous-spirited one, both inside and out of parliament. He seemed instinctively to be a one-nation Tory, yet weakened himself from beginning to end by trying vainly to placate the Conservative party’s radical and europhobic right wing. His balancing act left him as little more than a pragmatic party manager who gave little clear idea of what he wanted to do with power other than to possess it.




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