David William Donald Cameron (born 9 October 1966) is a British politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2016. He was also the Leader of the Conservative Party from 2005 to 2016. He was the first Conservative PM of the 21st century and the youngest since 1812.
His early life saw him attend Eton College (as have many Prime Ministers) and Oxford University (ditto). At the latter he was a member of the Bullingdon Club, an invite-only students' drinking club renowned for being seriously posh and seriously destructivenote . After graduating, he was an adviser to Norman Lamont and Michael Howard in the John Major administration, then worked in public relations.
In 2001, he became MP for Witney (the previous member, Shaun Woodward, had done a rather unpopular thing in rural Oxfordshire and defected to the Labour Party, so ended up being parachuted into another seat).
The 2005 Conservative election defeat saw Cameron run for leader and beat another David, David Davis. He spent nearly five years as Leader of the Opposition, rebuilding the image of a party shattered by three straight electoral defeats, with some policy moves not welcomed by the more traditional branch of the party. He also suffered a family tragedy in 2009, with the death of his 6 year old son Ivan, who had been born severely disabled.
Cameron looked likely to become PM from the start of the recession onwards, but his lead was steadily eroded, mostly by the impression that he was offering nothing but a retread on the divisive policies of Margaret Thatcher, and a strong performance by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg in the first leaders' debates in British electoral history (which didn't lead to the huge gain that his party expected) proved enough to produce a "Hung Parliament". When Gordon Brown was unable to negotiate a Liberal Democrat/Labour coalition, Cameron became the prime minister of a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government.
During the coalition government, Cameron came under criticism for not being able to achieve a more decisive and conclusive victory against a largely unpopular incumbent. Many of his policies were also incredibly unpopular, receiving criticism or protest; In the run up to the 2015 election, Cameron deflected much of the criticism onto the Lib Dems and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, their leader. It helped that a significant percentage of Lib Dems, while disagreeing with Labour, did not want a Conservative government and were therefore very unimpressed by Clegg's decision to get into bed with Cameron. While Cameron and his party were not the most popular people ever, support for Clegg and the Lib Dems plummeted as they became viewed as lapdogs for the Conservatives.
As the 2015 election approached, the biggest danger to Cameron was generally seen not to be Labour — Ed Milliband's leadership of that party often being seen as divisive and ineffectual — but rather the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which had adopted a much harder-right-wing set of policies and made huge gains in local and European elections, and was seen as being able to potentially split the Conservative vote and allow the election of Labour. On top of that, the Lib Dems were predicted to fare poorly, making it seem unlikely that Cameron could call on anyone else to form a coalition. During the election campaign, Cameron promised a referendum on British membership of the EU. It's generally believed that he was expecting to only retain power via a new coalition with the Lib Dems, and was making a promise he assumed that he'd never have to keep in an attempt to prevent anti-Europe Tory voters from defecting to UKIP.
The Conservatives, surprising pretty much everyone, managed to gain just enough seats to form an absolute majority of 12. Cameron, therefore, remained as Prime Minister. The elections results also saw three other party leaders, Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, resign, albeit with Farage later rescinding his resignation due to the party's sole MP not wanting to run for the leadership. As Cameron entered Buckingham Palace at 12:28, the Conservatives only needed one to win a majority - which they formally got soon after.
Later that year, a book was published that infamously accused him of having engaged in certain activities with the head of a pig as part of an initiation ritual to the previously mentioned Bullingdon Club. Regardless of whether the allegations are true or not, it's led to quite its share of jokes, especially as a result of certain scenes within Black Mirror: The National Anthem.
Like Thatcher and Major before him, Cameron's ultimate downfall was The European Union. Having already taken a blow to his reputation from at least two attempts to cut benefits to low-paid workers and disabled people while handing out tax cuts to big businesses, Cameron had to fulfil his election promise to call a referendum on the UK's continued membership of the EU for June 2016. The referendum ended in a clear-cut if narrow victory for those who wanted to leavenote . With Cameron's position already imperilled before the referendum by Eurosceptic Conservatives who made little secret of their intention to call a vote of no confidence in his leadership irrespective of the result, Cameron announced the day after the referendum that he would resign. Upon his resignation on July 13, 2016, he was succeeded by Theresa May.
While Cameron oversaw stability, excellent fiscal management and the UK emerging from the Great Recession as one of the EU's stronger economies, his letting the Brexit genie out of the bottle effectively erases any good he did and is seen as defining his legacy in manner similar to Anthony Eden and the Suez Crisis. The general opinion among political writers about his time in office can basically be summed up as "amongst the worst", and that it'll take a miracle for historical perspective to ever get much kinder. His reputation has improved slightly since leaving office, however, since he at least took over a party that had been in the doldrums for the better part of a decade and left it with a decent majority, which his successor managed to squander in less than a year.
Cameron's generally privileged upbringing and PR background has made him a rich source for satire and accusations that he cannot comprehend the lives of ordinary people. The fact that he is descended on his mother's side from a bastard daughter of King William IV apparently doesn't help.
David Cameron in fiction:
- Despite his corporate/Oxbridge background, David tried awfully hard to come across as a man of the people. This is where most satire about Cameron comes from: in Tony! The Blair Musical, he's featured rapping about it.
- Cameron, like all party leaders, is a regular target for Private Eye, particularly in the comic strip Dave Snooty and his Pals (a spoof of The Beano's Lord Snooty). In the spirit of the Coalition, he shared his text feature, a parody school newsletter for the "Coalition Academy", with Nick Clegg until his winning an overall majority in 2015 led it to being renamed the "Cameron Free School".
- Headcases featured Cameron speaking with a distinctively "normal accent" in public and a more "Old Etonian" on in private.
- In the ITV telemovie The Trial of Tony Blair, Cameron's election campaign revolves around his attempts to appear cool and modern by riding a bike to work and trying to hang out with inner-city teens and using what he thinks is their lingo (and failing miserably).
- Steve Bell's long-running cartoon in the Guardian portrayed him first as a jellyfish wearing a cycle helmet, and later with an inflated condom for a headnote .
- In The Bojeffries Saga, an unnamed but recognisable Cameron is murdered via Neck Snap by Ginda Bojeffries during Prime Minister's Question Time.
- He doesn't appear, but The Unseen opposition leader / Prime Minister "J.B" in The Thick of It is suggested to be heavily inspired by Cameron, being something of an Etonian posh-boy with a fervent desire to be seen as cool, down-to-earth and with-it despite not quite being able to shed his over-privileged (and slightly racist) attitudes.