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"Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice - stability and strong Government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband."
David Cameron on his Twitter feed, 4 May 2015, a statement now infamous for its ironic value

David William Donald Cameron, Baron Cameron of Chipping Norton (born 9 October 1966) is a British politician who served as the 53rd 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 Lord Liverpool in 1812, in the latter case coming under Tony Blair's distinction by being 147 days younger when he was first appointed.

Like many prime ministers before him, he attended Eton College and the University of Oxford as a youth. At the latter, he was a member of the Bullingdon Club and possibly the Piers Gaveston Society, two invite-only students' drinking clubs renowned for being seriously posh and seriously destructive.note  After graduating, he worked in John Major's government as a special adviser, first to Major himself, later to powerful ministers Norman Lamont and Michael Howard, then worked in public relations.

In 2001, he became MP for Witney (the previous member, Shaun Woodward, had defected to the Labour Party, which was rather unpopular in rural Oxfordshire, so he was parachuted into the safe Labour seat of Saint Helens South). He then became the ringleader of a clique of young Tory MPs called the Notting Hill set, so named for the fashionable neighbourhood (featured in the film of the same name) where they all lived. Other members of this group included George Osborne and Michael Gove, who served in his eventual ministry as Chancellor and Education secretary respectively.

After the Conservatives lost the 2005 general election, Michael Howard announced his resignation as Conservative leader, necessitating a leadership election. Cameron ran for leader and beat another David, David Davis. He spent nearly five years as leader of the opposition, rebuilding the image of the UK's historically most successful party, albeit a party now shattered by three straight electoral defeats, with some policy moves that the more traditional branch of the party did not endorse. He also suffered a family tragedy in 2009, with the death of his six-year-old son Ivan, who had been born severely disabled.

Cameron looked likely to become PM from the start of the global recession onwards, but his lead steadily declined, mostly thanks to the impression that what he was offering amounted to a retread of Margaret Thatcher's divisive policies, and a strong performance by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg in the first televised 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, which ended with the Conservatives winning the most votes and 306 out of 650 seats. When Gordon Brown couldn't negotiate a Labour–Liberal Democrat coalition, Cameron succeeded him as prime minister, leading a Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government, the UK's first formal coalition government since the all-party government Winston Churchill led back in World War II. It made a line from a 2008 interview with Cameron retroactively amusing: when asked what his favourite political joke was, he replied, "Nick Clegg, at the moment."

During the coalition government, Cameron came under criticism for not being able to achieve a more decisive and conclusive victory against an unpopular incumbent. Many of his own policies were also incredibly unpopular, attracting criticism and protest. In the lead up to the 2015 election, Cameron deflected much of the criticism onto the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, their leader. It helped that many Lib Dem supporters disagreed with Labour but did not want a Conservative government, so Clegg's decision to partner with Cameron soured their attitudes. While Cameron and his party were not the most popular people ever, support for Clegg and the Lib Dems plummeted as people came to see them as lapdogs for the Conservatives.

As the 2015 election approached, the biggest danger to the Cameron Conservatives was generally seen to be not Labour — Ed Miliband'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 recent local and European elections and which people thought might split the Conservative vote and bring Labour back to government despite itself. On top of that, the Lib Dems were predicted to fare poorly, making it unlikely that Cameron could call on anyone else to form a new coalition.note  During the election campaign, Cameron promised a public referendum on British membership of The European Union (which he personally supported). It's generally believed that he expected only to retain power via a new Conservative–Liberal coalition and was making a promise that he assumed he'd never have to keep to prevent Eurosceptic Tory voters from defecting to UKIP.

The Conservatives, surprising most people, won 330 seats, giving them an overall majority of twelve seats. Cameron, therefore, remained as prime minister. The election results also saw three other party leaders — Clegg (who was one of only eight Lib Dem MPs returned), Miliband (who suffered a string of publicity gaffes) and UKIP's Nigel Farage (who wasn't elected to the Commons) — resign, although Farage later retracted his resignation when the party's sole MP decided not to seek 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, Conservative peer Michael Ashcroft published a book that infamously accused him of having engaged in certain activities with a dead pig's head as part of an initiation ritual to the above-mentioned Piers Gaveston Society. Regardless of whether the allegations are true, it's led to its share of jokes, especially as a result of certain scenes in Black Mirror: "The National Anthem".

Like Thatcher and Major before him, Cameron lost his premiership largely thanks to Britain's complicated relationship with the EU. Having already taken a blow to his reputation from at least two attempts to cut benefits to low-paid workers and people with disabilities 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 23 June 2016. The referendum ended in a clear if narrow victory for those who wanted to leave.note  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 as Conservative leader and prime minister. His resignation took effect on 13 July 2016, whereupon he was succeeded by Theresa May, who had been Home secretary throughout his ministry. He also resigned from Parliament effective on 12 September, claiming he feared he'd be a distraction to May as she dealt with Brexit. (He gave the same reason for delaying the publication of his memoir For the Record from 2018 to 2019. For the record, it didn't hurt its sales.)

While Cameron oversaw stability, excellent fiscal management, the successful 2012 Summer Olympics in London, 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 undoes nearly all the good he may have done and in popular eyes defines his legacy much like 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 will take a miracle for historical perspective ever to get much kinder. (Just after he resigned, a University of Leeds-led study rated him Britain's third-worst prime minister since the Second World War, indeed naming his Brexit gamble "the greatest failure of any Prime Minister since Lord North lost America", with only Eden and Alec Douglas-Home ranking below him overall.) His reputation did improve slightly after he left office, albeit in part because some of his successors were perceived as worse and even then, some have argued their tenure was hurt from the start due to cleaning up the mess Cameron left behind. He was an effective party leader at least: when he assumed leadership, the Conservatives had been in the doldrums for the better part of a decade, and he left them with a working majority in the House of Commons, which his successor helped squander in less than a year. The pendulum swung against him again, though, since her immediate successor, Boris Johnson, actively repudiated many of his 'image rehabilitation' strategies, called another snap election in 2019, abandoned the austerity agenda, and was rewarded with the Conservatives' largest parliamentary majority since 1987 and their (and indeed the) highest share of the vote since 1979.note  Whether Cameron will enjoy the effects of the Popularity Polynomial given the spectacular implosion of Johnson's government amidst various scandals in 2022 — to say nothing of the even greater struggles that would occur under his successors Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak — remains to be seen. However, the manner of Johnson's downfall did lead many people to look back and admit that Cameron did much to clean up the party's historical problems with sleaze, and that for all the controversial decisions his government took, it was one of the less scandal-prone modern administrations,note  which would carry forward into May's regime, and only became a problem again when many assumed that Brexit would give the Johnson-era Tories an unassailable electoral advantage.

Cameron's generally privileged upbringing and PR background has made him a rich target for satire amid accusations that he cannot comprehend the lives of ordinary people. The fact that he is descended on his mother's side from an illegitimate daughter of King William IV apparently doesn't help.

By all reports, he made a killing as a public speaker for the next few years. Unlike fellow former PMs John Major and Tony Blair, who made headlines during the 2019 election campaign denouncing then-leaders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, he has continued to support his party and even (tepidly) endorsed their Brexit strategy. He continues to argue that calling the referendum was necessary and does not regret doing so, though he does regret that he did not win it for Remain, which he no longer even pretends he didn't support all along.note 

He became mired in controversy during 2021 when it turned out he'd used his old Government connections to assist the company Greensill, leading to the nickname Dennis Skinner once used for him, "Dodgy Dave", being trotted out again, though three separate inquiries cleared him of wrongdoing and attributed most of the culpability to the since-deceased former Cabinet secretary Lord Jeremy Heywood.

In November 2023, Cameron made a sensational return to the political frontline when Rishi Sunak appointed him to be Foreign Secretary, becoming the first former prime minister to take up a cabinet post since Alec Douglas-Home took up the same role under Edward Heath. Cameron was appointed to the House of Lords in order to take up the position — essentially the reverse of Douglas-Home, who started off as a peer, served as Foreign Secretary under Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan, then renounced his peerage and joined the House of Commons to become PM. He is the first former PM to be elevated to the Lords since Margaret Thatcher in 1992, and the first Foreign Secretary to serve from the Lords since Lord Carrington, Thatcher's first Foreign Secretary from 1979 to 1982.

David Cameron in fiction:

  • Despite his corporate and 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/was 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 the surprise Conservative majority victory 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 bicycle helmet, and later with an inflated condom for a head.note 
  • In The Bojeffries Saga, Ginda Bojeffries fatally Neck Snaps an unnamed but recognisable Cameron during Prime Minister's Question Time.
  • He doesn't appear, but The Ghost 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.
  • Doctor Who Titan Comics with their 2015 comic Clara Oswald and the School of Death had an evil Prime Minister who was a Sea Devil in disguise. His name, Daniel Claremont, makes him come across as a caricature of David Cameron. Also, he is said to have attended the same private school as half his Cabinet, which is turning the pupils into Sea Devils, in a satire of the British public school system.