Famous and not so famous Brits – David Cameron
David William Duncan Cameron, “Tory boy”
David William Duncan Cameron (b.1966) is Britain’s current Prime Minister. His father was a stockbroker and his mother a Justice of the Peace. He is of Scottish descent on his father’s side of the family, which has for generations been involved in finance, while his mother’s side has a tradition of Conservative politicians.
He was educated at Eton College and gained a first-class degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University, where he was also a member of the exclusive Bullingdon dining club, whose members are former pupils of the most exclusive private schools. The club is notorious for its tradition of heavy drinking and rowdy behaviour. After graduating, he worked for the Conservative Party Research Department and then as a Special Adviser in government, first to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and later to the Home Secretary. He then spent seven years at Carlton Communications, a leading UK media company of the 1990s, and served on the management board. Carlton was criticised for being a pioneer of “trash TV”, but Cameron’s experience with the company may well have helped him develop the skill in dealing with the media which has been a feature of his career.
He was elected MP for Witney in Oxfordshire in 2001 and rose through the ranks of the Conservative party, occupying a number of opposition front-bench posts before being chosen as party leader in 2005 at the age of 39. Young, energetic and an effective public speaker, he was seen as a Tory equivalent to Tony Blair; a leader who would modernise his party in a similar way to Blair’s “New Labour” project. When Blair resigned and was replaced as Prime Minister by Gordon Brown, Cameron and his close political ally George Osborne (then Shadow Chancellor) stepped up their attacks on the Labour government and its policies. They were very successful, with Labour declining in public opinion polls and the Conservatives gaining support. In the General Election of 2010 Labour lost, but there was no clear winner. Although the Conservatives were the largest party, they had no overall majority and had to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The coalition made tackling the UK economy’s deficit its priority, and introduced a programme of public spending cuts, which its critics say are increasing inequality and making the situation worse rather than better. There have also been frequent attacks on what is seen as the social élitism of Cameron and his cabinet, whose many members come from wealthy backgrounds and were educated at top public schools like Cameron himself. He is portrayed as a member of a privileged upper class, who are out of touch with the worries of ordinary people.
Some colleagues, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, strongly disagree with Cameron’s sceptical, sometimes hostile attitude to the European Union. Cameron has promised a referendum on Britain’s EU membership if the Tories win the 2015 General Election – but in early 2014 the outcome of next year’s election is hard to predict. No political party seems to be the “frontrunner”, and because of the financial crisis, the public are wary of politicians’ promises. As for David Cameron, he is viewed by some, like the historian David Kynaston, as possessing “oldfashioned “officer” qualities”, useful for a “onenation prime minister”, but, continues Kynaston, “whether he can sufficiently lead by example is another matter”. Nevertheless, he remains a dedicated, hard-working Prime Minister and a skilled communicator in both Parliament and TV studios.
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