But who really is this would-be prime minister David Cameron? Do we know him at all?
Name: David William Donald Cameron
Occupation: Conservative Party Leader
Education: Brasenose College, Oxford (History and Politics, First Class)
He’s probably going to be the next prime minister, judging by the latest national poll results. Asked who we would vote for if there was an election tomorrow, 44% of us said we’d mark ‘X’ by Conservative, with a measly 27% choosing Labour and 18% Lib Dem. So David Cameron looks set to be settling in to Number Ten by Spring next year. Isn’t there a feeling, though, that we don’t quite know what we’re getting? Before we snatch with glee the keys of power from Gordon’s clunking fist, might we ask, whose exactly is this smooth white palm we’re dropping them into?
Dave doesn’t like to talk about beginnings. “Birth should never be a barrier,” he demands. Indeed, hear hear! But background has a hugely formative effect – haven’t we a right to explore a little personal history? Dave’s got a lot of history, hundreds of years of it in fact, because he’s directly descended from royalty. William IV was his great-great-great-great grandfather making him a distant (very distant, it has to be said) cousin to the Queen. Privilege remained in the family and Dave received the full, handsome rewards of it; donning dickie-bow and tails he enjoyed the most prestigious of English public-school educations at Eton, where he would meet some of the fourteen ‘Old Boys’ who now form part of his inner team. Dave was a smart lad; he studied at Oxford and gained a first class degree, and his tutor later said he was one of the “ablest” students he had ever encountered.
Other elements of his Oxford career are perhaps less commendable. His membership of the notorious Bullingdon Club, of which chums Boris Johnson and shadow chancellor George Osborne were also a part, has been the subject of much speculation and embarrassment. This dining society for the super rich and social elite has a legendary history marked by the image of upper-class twits cavorting about in £1,200 tuxes, chucking flower pots through windows and glugging champagne out of the bottle. No wonder Dave doesn’t like chatting to the media about university days.
In fact David Cameron has spent a lot of time and effort trying to make up for the judgements people might have made about him from his background. He has styled himself as a man of the people, riding to work on a bike and talking about what music he’s into. His wife, Samantha, modestly dresses in clothes from M&S and says she’s an ordinary gal from Scunthorpe. She doesn’t mention, by the by, that her childhood home was Normanby Park, a 3,000 acre country estate acquired by her family in the late 16th Century. All this of course is irrelevant – so too is the fact that the Times Rich List estimated Dave and Sam’s personal wealth to be in the region of £30 million… Or is it? Can we rest assured that Mr Cameron is in touch with the reality that the vast majority of the people of this country face, when he and most of those around him, come from so narrow and immensely privileged a section of society?
Perhaps we can; after all it will be his policies, not his blue blood that’ll do the talking. Dave says the values that govern those policies are ‘family, community and country’. He says he’s going to ‘get Britain working’ by rigorously reassessing claimants of incapacity benefit. He’ll uproot the bureaucratic ‘big government’ where in its place, he hopes, will flourish a new sense of our own personal responsibility. ‘Tough decisions’ will have to be made about public spending cuts but the NHS and international development will be spared the swing of the axe. But wait, is anybody listening?
There’s no doubt that David Cameron has performed a near miracle pumping life back into the Tory party, which lay dead in the water for years (after all, his only real job outside politics was as a PR man) but are we, as a nation, attracted by his proposals, yearning for his government? Or is it just a case of turning our backs on Brown and New Labour? The Sun’s recent switch certainly seemed to focus on disillusion with the present government rather than optimism about the Tories.
Thus, whether Cameron is known to us or liked remains neither here nor there. In the fear of what some might deem a nightmarish fourth term for Labour, will the nation merely sleep walk into the open arms of Dave Cameron?