David Cameron’s place in the premier league of Tory history

How will he remembered compared with Thatcher, Disraeli, Salisbury or Macmillan? You can be sure he’s thinking about it

3 October 2015

9:00 AM

3 October 2015

9:00 AM

At a large Tory breakfast meeting that David Cameron spoke to recently, the tables were named after all of the Conservative premiers of the past: the good, the bad and Ted Heath. So there were the Lord Salisbury, Harold Macmillan and Margaret Thatcher tables, for example. (I was delighted to be on the Winston Churchill table; the people on the Neville Chamberlain one looked suitably ill-favoured.) As Cameron — who was sat at the David Cameron table, appropriately enough — looked around the huge room that morning, he could be forgiven for wondering where he will wind up in the pantheon of past premiers.

For as Cameron nears his tenth anniversary as leader of the Conservative party in December, we can start to see the outlines of where he might stand historically, in relation to his predecessors. In terms of sheer longevity as prime minister, of course, he will beat most of the previous Tory occupants of No. 10: he has already outlasted Andrew Bonar Law, Alec Douglas-Home, Anthony Eden, Neville Chamberlain, Arthur Balfour, Edward Heath and Lord Derby.

Assuming that he resigns before the next election, in accordance with the pledge he gave before the last one, and times this so that his successor has a couple of years to establish himself or herself, Cameron will also overtake Harold Macmillan, Benjamin Disraeli, John Major and Stanley Baldwin. If he delayed his resignation for a few months, he could also overhaul Winston Churchill’s eight years and 240 days in office. (Like Churchill, Cameron was in coalition for his first term but enjoyed a Tory majority in his second.)

It would only be by reneging on his pledge not to stand again that Cameron would be in a position to equal Margaret Thatcher’s 11 or Lord Salisbury’s 13 years in power, and there is no indication that he will succumb to the disastrous misconception among prime ministers that they are indispensable. Instead he is likely to be the only Tory premier since Lord Salisbury and Stanley Baldwin to leave office at a time entirely of his own choosing.

Sheer longevity in office is only one of the criteria that historians use to judge prime ministers, and a not particularly important one. Clement Attlee was only at No. 10 for six years and 92 days, for example, but he was a political weather-changer who fundamentally altered Britain in a way that John Major, the Duke of Newcastle and Harold Wilson, who each had longer in the job, did not. Like most peacetime premiers, Cameron will be judged on the change in the economy between when he entered office and when he leaves it, and by any criteria except the one of stubbornly low productivity — still lower than that of France — the Cameron-Osborne years have seen a spectacular rescuing of Britain from the wild overspending of the Blair-Brown years.

Towards the end of their time in office — and we are probably less than three years away from that in Cameron’s case — prime ministers tend to start thinking of their monuments. It’s often a dangerous moment, the one when hubris steps in. Sadly Cameron seems entirely to have eschewed the wonderful legacy of taking Britain out of the European Union, which would have guaranteed him a foremost place among the weather-changing PMs. Yet even without that crowning achievement, he is likely to be seen in the front rank of peacetime Tory premiers.

In one sense that’s not so difficult, considering how many of them were in office for too short a period — Bonar Law and Douglas-Home for less than a year — or were overall failures due to policy catastrophes — Baldwin and Chamberlain over their response to Adolf Hitler, Eden over the Suez crisis, Heath over the three-day Week, Major over the ERM debacle — or presided over split parties such as Balfour and Major who both consequently went down to electoral disaster. (Major’s 1997 defeat was the worst since the Duke of Wellington’s in 1832.) If one accepts that Winston Churchill and Lord Liverpool, for all their wartime successes, were unimpressive peacetime premiers, Cameron is almost guaranteed a front-ranking spot among peacetime premiers, assuming the economy doesn’t tank in the next 30 months or so.

So where will Cameron stand in relation to the four Tory peacetime front-rankers, Margaret Thatcher, Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Salisbury and Harold Macmillan? (William Pitt the Younger was primarily a wartime premier, and anyhow described himself as a Whig.) Being an intensely competitive man, Cameron will have given this some thought, and the profoundly radical agenda he has set out for his ministry over the next three years is testament to his wish to make a permanent mark on British history. He of course must avoid being tripped up by events which often come out of a clear blue sky, like the Suez crisis or the 1973 miners’ strike, that can destroy premierships, or alternatively he must be able to turn them to his advantage, as Margaret Thatcher did with both the Falklands war and the 1984–85 miners’ strike.

Assuming he can do all that and not be skewered by those events such as a Chinese downturn that are entirely out of the hands of any Briton to affect, Cameron must now be having Harold Macmillan’s fourth place in his sights. He is due to overtake Macmillan’s length of time in office in February 2017, and although he wouldn’t be crass enough to boast that the British people had never had it so good as under his premiership, Cameron might well by then have delivered boons — such as a seven-day NHS — that Macmillan would never have attempted, and to have done it from the One Nation wing of the party that Macmillan himself also hailed from.

Cameron is too well-versed in history to believe that he could overhaul Thatcher, Disraeli or Salisbury without another term in office or a cataclysm that he was able to master, but overtaking Supermac is well within his abilities, and must now be on his agenda. Maybe he had Macmillan’s portrait brought into Downing Street in May 2010 to fire his competitive nature.


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  • Sean L

    I’d put him well below Heath. What kind of leader fails to protect his nation’s borders from parasitic, often hostile incomers?And if that wasn’t bad enough, increases spending on Foreign Aid at the expense of Defence? All the while entrenching multi-culturalism and appeasing the Green lobby at every turn. Worst of the lot, by a mile.

  • John Harper

    Generally correct on Cameron aiming to overtake Macmillan
    however that would only be fifth spot as you should include William Pitt the
    Younger. Whilst he is remembered as a wartime leader his greatest contributions
    were in his financial reforms prior to the revolutionary wars, which enabled
    Britain to ultimately spend its way to victory. Any politician who aspired to
    government at the time called themselves a Whig and Pitt’s key views (Strong
    defence, patriotism, free-trade and opposition to revolution at home and abroad)
    made him a modern Conservative. Compared to the figures of Thatcher and Pitt it
    is highly generous to describe Cameron as second-rate.

    Short of messing up the
    EU referendum and splitting the Conservative party there is little Cameron can
    do to be anything but a footnote in history.

  • Wow – what a weak article. This one should have been spiked! Roberts, a historian of no mean reputation, manages to say almost nothing about Cameron’s achievements. other than … erm, longevity and better management than Brown of disastrous public spending. Gee, what a legacy. My cat could have controlled public spending better than the economically illiterate ideologue Brown. Public spending continues to go up (albeit it at a lower rate than under Brown – whoopee), and Cameron is absurdly weak on free speech, immigration and AGW. He has ring-fenced structural inefficiencies in the NHS, failed to get to grips with public sector pensions and utterly failed children by continuing the prohibition on grammar schools. Peter Hitchens and others say DC stands for nothing at all, and there is real force in that critique.

    • tjamesjones

      well Jeremy Corbyn stands for something, you could vote for him.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        I’d rather not vote for envy, class war and terrorism, thanks all the same.

        • Damon

          I’m pretty sure tjamesjones was being sarcastic, though.

          • tjamesjones

            thanks Damon, there are few signs of life down here.

      • Sardo_Numpsa

        Don’t be silly

      • Jaria1

        Meanwhile Andy Burnham has paced himself in a favourable poition when the far left realise that with Corbyn they will remain in opposition , maybe not even the main opposition party.

    • Johnny Foreigner



    Cameron is the second most hated Tory BRITNAT PM to rule over Scotland, but he will unfortunately become the third most hated upon Gideon Osborne, the spawn of Th*****r, being voted into government by the English electorate.


    • David S

      Do please remember the circumstances in which Scotland joined the Union. You were bankrupt, rather than invaded

      • Harryagain

        And socialism destroyed Scottish industry, not the Tories or the English.
        Any more socialism will destroy the whole of Scotland.

        • MickC

          Is socialism why Germany can still build ships?

    • Damon

      If the Scottish people really hated Dave that much, they could have liberated themselves from his clutches last September.

    • Hamburger

      You do seem to be very upset. It would be helpful for us foreigners if you wrote more clearly. I might be able to understand you then.

    • G B

      I agree with your sentiments but beware of Saint Nicola she is introducing a totalitarian state faster and more obviously than Dave. Did you know that she was doing a deal, leading up to your referendum, with Dave selling off your water rights to Westminster. One half of her face says one thing whilst the other side is doing something else. All is not what it seems. See how many licences she has sold for unconventional gas extraction and where they are. Glasgow and Edinburgh had better get their gas masks out. Glaswegians are not going to be able to fart with the new NICE security system in place and your children will belong to the state with the named persons in charge. Of course if you don’t like it the police can shoot you as well now.

  • slyblade

    Cameron epitaph- here lies David Cameron

  • stuartMilan

    please desist from puff like this. to compare Dave to Macmillan, Disraeli or Thatcher only emphasises his utter lack of substance

  • Mongo Part II

    Cameron only looks good in comparison to what immediatley preceded him. He’s duplicitous – as his sham EU renegotiations will demonstrate, and he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions.

    He’s utterly failed on one of the most pressing issues – mass immigration. He’s too
    afraid to take any decisive stance or make any tough decisions for fear it may make him unpopular. Thatcher didn’t care about her approval ratings, or being universally loved

    if Cameron wants his place in history he should take us out of the EU and end mass immigration. He will become a hate figure amongst some but at least he will have done something worthwhile and permanent.

    Blair was obsessed with what his place in history would be, and history has rightfully not been kind to him

    • Hamburger

      If you have a workable solution to mass migration please let us know.

      • Swarm of Drones

        I have an idea. Shock and awe works.

        The state ought to balance the books by force from tomorrow onwards, just for 6 months to make people understand what that means with regards to paying out on arbitrary pension entitlements or free healthcare treatment to the elderly for example. My hunch is that commoner folk like Mungo would shut up instantly after that.

      • Johnny Foreigner

        Didn’t he write, ‘take us out of the EU’. What sort of answer were you looking for?

        • Hamburger

          How will that help? Are the refugees coming from the EU? Of course not. Leaving the EU won’t make a blinds bot of difference.

          • Johnny Foreigner

            Once they have their papers, they will be. Then as the employment crisis continues to grow unabated, then more will head this way, but lordy, lordy, we’ll have control of our borders back. Take that to the bank.

          • Hamburger

            Don’t worry, they all want to stay here.

          • Johnny Foreigner

            OMG, are you real Hamburger? I feel sorry for you and the rest the poor Germans, with Merkel dictating your future.

          • Hamburger

            A little black humour keeps s north Germans going.

          • terence patrick hewett

            Arnold Schwarzenegger?

          • Hamburger

            Austrian? Another world.

          • terence patrick hewett

            Indeed: as a Dr of Engineering it is lovely to be addressed as Herr Doktor.

          • Hamburger

            If you were the wife of a doctor of engineering you would be charmingly addressed as Frau Doktor, even if it is not very politically correct.

          • Jaria1

            No one who knows a Berliner ( if youll excuse the word Hamburger) would ever accuse the Germans of not having a sense of humour.
            My sister in law from Stuttgart isnt too bad either

          • ex-pom

            And as PG Wodehouse pointed out:- “The German sense of humour is no laughing matter !”.

          • Hamburger

            If that is our only problem……

          • Jaria1

            Future Germans will pay the price for her generosity as they will no longer have a recognisable Germany.
            Every one feels sorry for the latest swarm of Muslims until they realise that they dont integrate and many are taught by their imams to hate the country that took them or their parents in.

          • woohoo002

            They are not invading Europe to get a better life, they are invading to take over.

          • Jaria1

            My son who for reasons unknown to me is keen on his bible tells me that this is foretold in the bible!
            There is little doubt that their ambition is to impose their religon on others . If it were just the religon that would be bad enough but it entails imposing the dictats of their religon on the country where they have sufficient influence.
            Examples are easily seen in what was called the Arab Spring . Particularly in Egypt where their Army stopped Morsi in his tracks before he and the Muslim brotherhood did what Erdogan did to Turkey.

          • Johnny Foreigner

            I just wanted to add, if you’re interested on a different slant on the Liberal Progressive European News, try this: http://www.breitbart.com/london

          • woohoo002

            Remember to keep your hands in your pockets when they impose Sharia Law.

          • Mongo Part II

            I wasn’t talking about refugees. Try to keep up.

          • Child_of_Thatcher

            Yes it will as it will stop secondary migration of African and Arabian naturalized Europeans

          • Hamburger

            I am impressed by your optimism. I suggest you take a look at the non-EU country Norway.

          • woohoo002

            It would be if they are hell bent on coming here and gets citizenship in a post USSR sh!thole.

      • Mongo Part II

        it’s really not difficult. Leave the EU to regain control of our borders. And introduce a controlled, managed points-based immigration policy where we control how many people move to the UK each year rather than the free-for-all we currently have.

        I know this is not a solution Cameron will consider, despite his cast iron promise to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’, but it’s feasable – it will just require a govt with the balls to implement it.

        When Dave made his promise, I can’t imagine how he believed he would keep it if he wasn’t prepared to make these significant, but necessary, reforms. It simply demonstrates Cameron’s disingenuity

        • David Prentice

          Too late, old man. Once one Muslim gets here and discovers they can take from taxpayers without giving back, the extended family down to the x generation follows. There are upwards of three million of the parasitical f**kers here now, with their obscene fortresses “houses of worship” sprouting like toadstools in every direction; busily turning their little areas into no-go ghettos, which will, when the inevitable civil war starts, come to resemble the Third World hell-holes they were ostensibly fleeing.

        • Jaria1

          When i think of politicians I cant help but compare them with sheepdog trials in that their success equates to how many of the huge majority of those that are easily led follow them.
          To expect a politician to be straight with you is the height of optimism they are dependent on the popular vote.
          As far as immigration is concerned Im not bothered if its good for the economy , especially if it sacrifices the identity of the country. Im aware that the NHS employs many immigrants but at the same time has to look after many immigrants and this helps to explain the whole subject.
          We need to strive for a balence which only needs a fraction of the immigrants that come here to satisfy our needs. If it means we have to do without foreign expertise then spend money in educating the local Brit instead of throwing them untrained and leaderless from school and of little use to employers.

      • Cobbett

        Reinstate Primary Purpose….expel all migrants who’ve committed a crime in the last 10 years…benefits only given to British Citizens, including NHS and schooling. Make being an illegal immigrant a criminal offence…make it harder and unwelcoming for them in general.

        • WalterSEllis

          A modest proposal: we could fill a load of leaky boats with illegal
          immigrants and push them off in the general direction of France. Who
          could possibly complain? We could even ask Teresa May to crack a bottle
          of champagne across the bow of the lead boat (assuming, of course, that
          it was strong enough to take the blow).

      • edlancey

        Stick to commenting on German websites where you can all have a group hug about how nasty your grandparents were.

        You haven’t even assimiliated the Anatolian hordes after +50 years yet you think grovelling to another bunch of supremacist, uneducated muslims will work this time.

        Thanks for WW3 you german prat.

        • Hamburger

          Tablets finished? Oh well I´m sure you will be able to get some more next year.

          • edlancey

            and who says germans have no sense of humour…

          • Hamburger

            We are working on it.

          • edlancey

            well a million and a half recalcitrant moors will help that process

      • Child_of_Thatcher

        Copy Australia. Next question?

        • BenTorch

          Land of emmigrants. Lol.

      • woohoo002

        Getting out of the EU would be a start, at least it would be a barrier to Merkel’s insanity.

  • Antonia Willis

    Oh Lord. This only makes the Speccie seem alarmingly small world. All sorts of things are happening in the larger world this month that make party politics seem irredeemably trivial – mass migration, Russian actions in Syria, Hamas’s repudiation of the Oslo Accords spring to mind. Any or all of these could expose the ultimate fatuity of the trundle-along, centrist approach of the Cameron administration. For starters, it was clear from Cameron’s press conference replies to questions on Syrian airstrikes that he hadn’t even had intelligence on their imminence. A perception of Cameron’s place in history, insofar as it is of any interest at all in the wider scheme of things, is likely to change week by week. Ridiculous to pretend otherwise.

  • Abie Vee

    Cameron will be remembered as the man who rose without trace (and sank the same way). A run of the mill, nothing special, here-today, gone-tomorrow nonentity.

    • Faulkner Orkney

      He started with nothing, and he still has most of it left.

  • Sean Lang

    Pitt the Younger had just short of ten years in office in peacetime (Dec.1783- Feb.1793. In that period he completely overhauled the country’s economic policy, reformed the government of British India, and instituted a major clampdown on corruption and government inefficiency. I don’t think all this can just be swept aside as “primarily a wartime premier”.

    That said, I disagree with other comments here. Cameron is an extremely able politician, who has wrong-footed and out-manoeuvred a whole string of rivals and opponents, from his audacious bid for the tory leadership ten years ago, to his seeing-off of the Liberal Democrats’ electoral reform campaign and Alex Salmond’s referendum. He has indeed overseen a remarkable economic recovery when everyone was expecting disaster. He handled coalition – one of the most difficult tasks in politics – with considerable skill, not only keeping the LibDems onside for the full term (by no means a given) and then skewering them in good time so as to win an unexpected outright election victory. I think history will indeed reckon him a man of underestimated political talent.

    • Damon

      Indeed Sean. Hardly a week goes by without the Trots and the Kippoos predicting Dave’s imminent inglorious demise, and yet years after becoming leader, he’s still here, and the electoral victories (General and referenda) pile up. As for governing from the centre-right, Kippoos and Trots will never grasp that that’s what the majority actually prefer, most of the time.

      • Johnny Foreigner

        Yea, a quiet life, perpetual managed decline. You’ve sussed the general public mongs in a nutshell. Don’t risk it, don’t rock the boat, the future is ………. a vacuum.

    • Junius

      Quite so. Although I believe David Cameron has more in common with Lord Liverpool than Pitt the Younger. Liverpool was prime minister for 15 years and is known today – if at all – for competent administration, and the ability to hold together a government of politicians of diverse opinions through volatile times.

      Mr Cameron may be a Tory in name, but in political philosophy he is closer to old-style Whigs such as Lord John Russell, who introduced the Great Reform Bill with these words: ‘We fix ourselves on what is, I hope, firm and steadfast ground, between the abuses we wish to amend, and the convulsions we hope to avert.’ He is a pragmatist, a U-turner, an unashamed trimmer in the mould of George Savile, Marquis of Halifax.

      And if it becomes clear that the EU cannot solve the problem of swarms of immigrants pouring uncontained over the Continent and that Britain is better off out, Mr Cameron is quite capable of adopting Halifax’s maxim: ‘To the question, What shall we do to be saved in this World? there is no other answer but this, Look to your Moat.’

  • Harryagain

    But but but…..
    He’s a lying toad!
    Greenest party ever.
    Immigration down to tens of thousands.
    Human Rights.
    Austerity/Reducing government debt/spending
    Gay marriage.
    Caving in to EUSSR demands for more cash.
    Trying to avoid referendum.
    And in the near future,significant concessions from the EUSSR.

    Might get an award for U-turns.

  • Logika

    Let’s face it. He will be mostly remembered for what he did to that pig.

  • sandy winder

    Cameron – the man who destroyed British values and culture and sold us to the EU.

    • Mongo Part II

      he’s just one in a long line of PMs who have done that

  • Abie Vee

    Cameron: he came, he saw, he conked out.

  • AliQadoo1

    He’ll be remembered as a wet-as-a-yard-of-pump-water Heathite socialist, happy to leave the client state’s hands in the pockets of a dwindling number of wealth-creators.

  • ronaldjohnston

    To say Cameron is well versed in history beyond that of fellow prime mnisters is not really true..remmebr the Magna Carter faux pas !

  • ronaldjohnston

    sorry Magna Carta …spell checkers are presumptious !

  • Johnny Foreigner

    Andrew Roberts, how could you?

  • ItsAlreadyTooLate

    It’s not how long it is, it’s what you do with it.

  • G B

    1) Leave the EU 2) Restore the Bradbury pound and get rid of the debt based economy 3) Bring to justice those who have committed war crimes and those who have failed to uphold common law rights 4) Separate our allegiance to the United States 5) Ring fence the casino bankers so that they are culpable for their own loses 6) Make all would be members of Parliament stand as independent candidates to reflect the people not parties. That should make a start.

  • paul

    Remembered as the guy who could not win in 2010 and who the Country did not really want in 2015 the worst PM in living memory who trebled the National Debt made life harder for the poor & needy in our Society the man who left his daughter at a pub and shoved his member in a dead pig’s mouth as a student yet he is still supported by the most corrupt right wing press which makes a mockery of our values as a civilised society.

    • Mongo Part II

      “the Country did not really want in 2015”

      yeah, that’s why he won an outright majority

      • Rodney H Vincent

        He didn’t win it, Miliband lost it. It was the awful thought of getting Ed for a PM that gave Cameron the votes. Had the Socialists a credible leader at the time the result would have been very different.

        • woohoo002

          More like a Lab/SNP coalition, Dave was only slightly less toxic than Socialism, what a chump!

    • Jules Wright

      … and, breathe. Did you not learn punctuation at school?

  • Cobbett

    Cameron isn’t even fit to be a pimple on Enoch’s backside.

  • WarriorPrincess111111

    David Cameron does not come over in any positive sense and has failed to do so in any time that he has been in office. Had he have been distanced from both Obama and Merkel – he may have stood a chance, but because he chose to be an accomplice in dubious US politics he has thrown any opportunity of being known for any worthy identifiable action in British history.
    The benefits to the general public of the 28 member states has been cheap petrol? No, it has not! People are paying a much higher price than they realise for this commodity, higher than if it had been imported under natural circumstances.
    The EU has now served its purpose – it offered little to begin with and has nothing to offer the UK now. If DC wishes to get his name known it would be as the leader who brought Britain out of the EU so that we can at last move into the future!

  • Lady Magdalene

    He could have a similar legacy to Wellington or Churchill: reclaiming this country’s Sovereignty from the EU. Instead he’s chosen to be remembered on a par with the appeasing Chamberlain and the Quisling Heath.

  • jeremy Morfey

    Cameron may well go down in history as the PM that has to confront a situation of enormity far exceeding that of his predecessors, including Thatcher and possibly even Churchill.

    That American bombing of that Afghan hospital has hit me with a slow fuse. When I first heard it, I thought it was yet another sorry casualty of war of many, but now I think it far more profound. No wonder the Spectator and the New Statesman are refusing to cover it, for fear of awaking uncomfortable home truths among its readers in the Comments section, who would then need to be censored or subtly suppressed by “upgrading” the software to make their contributions unreadable except by the determined.

    It has its roots with the Israeli bombardment of Gaza last year. This set a precedent whereby it is quite acceptable to bomb a hospital or a school to dust on the pretext that there might be enemy soldiers lurking within. it doesn’t really matter whether they are or not, in these post-Habeas Corpus times of finding child abuse suspects guilty just on a rumour, the suggestion of such a thing is sufficient to condemn the medics, patients, teachers and pupils to death for harbouring terrorists.

    We had the word of Medecins Sans Frontieres who spent an hour on the hotline assuring US commanding officers that there were no active Taliban in their hospital, and yet it seems the Americans did not believe them. Does that mean we no longer believe anyone waving a white flag, even if they are a UN agency? This was therefore an Act of Aggression by the Americans not against the Taliban, but against Medecins Sans Frontieres and also against German humanitarians who built the place not long ago. The Americans, under a Republican Congress and a Democrat President, have shown themselves to have the morals of one of that growing army of gunslingers who seem to infest their schools and colleges, never mind whether they are “saved” by Jesus. It is a terrible thing to say of our No.1 ally, on whom we depend on our national defence.

    Hence the quandary David Cameron finds himself under. How does he now uphold the prime responsiblity of Government to defend the nation?

  • Michael H Kenyon

    What humbug. Dave and his boosters may be thinking about the great and good he sees himself as one of – his two predecessors on the other side also had this narcissism, and neither look so good now. History will decide. He seems a bog standard (if shameless) Prime Minister of his class, no more, no less. The Lady saw him as superficial and trivial, and i have no reason to counter her view.

  • R Fairless

    It is impossible to trust Cameron; he is as big a confidence trickster as ever Blair was. Remember he is PR trained so that honesty and truthfulness are remote concepts. We have plenty of examples of his duplicitous ways. If he spent as much time finding solutions as he spends time and effort in deceit perhaps he would make progress. It is easily recognised that his supposed efforts in altering our relationship with the EU is a deceitful and worthless exercise which will achieve nothing of importance. Of course, he is not alone in his love affair with the EU and he is obviously prepared to abandon our sovereignty and independence to remain part of that corrupt and incompetent bureaucracy. He is entitled to his opinion however treasonable it may be, but he should not try to deceive us as to his true intentions.

  • Tom Burroughes

    Historical quibble: why no mention of Robert Peel? A transformative politician who in many ways created the Conservative Party in the 1830s, took bold if controversial positions on Catholic Emancipation, the repeal of the Corn Laws; he created the Metropolitan Police, massively overhauled the penal code, was involved in important banking and currency reforms, dealt with tricky issues regarding the Canada/US border, India. As a substantive figure, he was way ahead of Disraeli other than his ability to charm parts of the public. Peel is up there with Maggie, Churchill and Salisbury as among the greats.

  • Anton

    “Cameron is too well-versed in history…!!!!”

  • jeffersonian

    ‘As Cameron…looked around the huge room that morning, he could be forgiven for wondering where he will wind up in the pantheon of past premiers.’

    One rung above Ted Heath?

  • sidor

    He is probably the first Tory leader who didn’t know who composed “Rule, Britannia”.

    • NavyBlueMoon

      ….and probably the first who couldn’t translate ‘Magna Carta’ from Latin.

  • ADW

    Three Cameron failures:

    1. Setting a target for mass immigration reduction and seeing in reality an _increase_

    2. Having a war against a sovereign state (Libya) and declaring afterwards that anyone who thought that Arabs didn’t do democracy and human rights was a bigot and a racist. Fast forward a couple of years and the Arabs have done neither of those, and instead have a brutal tribal and religious conflict going on in that country which has meant anarchy and misery (oh and greatly reduced oil production).

    3. Having the following successive policies on Syria: (1) Arab Spring will bring Switzerland to the Middle East (we got ISIS instead); (2) chemical weapons are a red line; (3) ok the red line was crossed, but Parliament won’t let me do anything; (4) lets bomb ISIS but only in Iraq; (5) Assad must go; (6) ok since Vlad is backing him maybe not; (6) I don’t really want these refugees but I can’t do anything about it.

    • sidor

      “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

  • Rockingham

    As John McEnroe said to the umpire in 1984, you cannot be serious Roberts.

  • edlancey

    As soon as you see the name Andrew Roberts you know you’re going to read some meandering, fogeyish waffle.

    In that at least, I wasn’t disappointed. To think that a “chinese downturn” will have more of an effect than the unmentioned debacle of ISIS, LIbya and the invasion of Europe by muslim beggars is to be utterly deluded.

  • Sean L

    No will to even enforce existing border controls, let alone tighten them. For that alone he should be considered the worst, by a mile. Yet he champions Foreign Aid at the expense of, wait for it, *Defence*; not only appeases multi-culturalism but promotes it, effectively excluding it from public discourse. Ditto the economically ruinous self-defeating Green cr@p; the police terrorising of old white men to balance the multi-cultural books. People say it’s all about ‘detoxifying the brand’ or ‘modernising’, necessary conditions for there being a Conservative government at all.

    But how do you know if you don’t put up a fight and show some leadership that you can’t appeal to latent patriotism, drawing on the resentment that so many feel at the latest foreign incursion; and where the Green lobby is concerned to economic self interest? All modernising amounts to is conceding your own territory in advance of the battle, consenting to fight solely on ground defined by your opponent. But then he’s always regarded his enemies as to the right of him. i.e. people and views that would ordinarily be understood as *conservative*.

  • Baron

    Longevity in office as ‘the’ criteria to judge PMs legacy, Mr. Roberts? Why not their physical height, sexual attraction, the age of entering the top office of State?

    Amongst the post-war PMs, Winston trumps everyone, he not only saved Britain, he rescued the whole world because of his vision of what the Nazi creed represented well before he became PM, Lady T follows, and not just because of her stance on the Falklands, she set Britain free from the tyranny of organised labour, get us going again. The rest of them aren’t even amongst the also-runs, and the boy’s trailing behind them still what with his redefining nature, elevating homosexual sex to the level of heterosexual coupling for reproduction.

  • Desborough

    He will be remembered – if we are magnanimous – as being blindsided by Islam.
    At present, his PR shtick is being seen as PM nous.
    He will have no real answer to ‘Merkel’s Millions’ coming this way next year….

  • Rajah

    History will probably rate Cameron as one of the worst Prime Ministers since Lord North.
    He has a first from Oxford (good memory) but poor judgement. The choice of Coulson is a good example.
    Two years ago he was ready to bomb Assad , now he is moving to support Assad.
    He made a mess of the Defence review by scuttling the Ark Royal and selling the Harrier force for scrap. Britain’s influence in the world has been greatly weakened
    He pays lip service to social mobility but is strongly against grammar schools.
    The recent revelations by Lord Ashcroft give a clue as to why he blackened the moral fabric of the country by pushing the legislation for gay marriage against the wishes of the majority of his party.

    He was lucky to win the May election as the country only had the choice between him and the Miliband /Sturgeon socialists.

    He has no vision and no sound principles.

  • WalterSEllis

    Historians like to think they are better, and more objective, judges of contemporary politics and the likely judgments of posteriity than mere “pundits”. In fact, like Andrew Roberts in this piece, who talks about Cameron missing out on a “wonderful” opportunity to take Britain out of the EU, historians almost always bring their own prejudices to bear on events still unfolding, the course about which are yet to be determined. Roberts is a hard-line, Churchillian Tory, who, with singular lack of prescience, praised the invasion of Iraq and actively endorses the concept of an “anglosphere”. He is, of course, entitled to his opinions, but we are equally entitled to regard him not as a disinterested observer of the passing scene, but as distinctly parti pris.

  • Jason Palmer
  • Roger Hudson

    Cameron will be found wanting, hugely.
    He will come a cropper over Europe, he will get little or nothing of substance from Brussels, the project won’t allow anything but full membership and pressing on with the EU-state.
    He will continue to follow the US into further stupid adventures abroad.

  • edithgrove

    Not a leader. He almost lost the Union though smugness; may well lose Europe by accident, as fate collides with the insipidness of his vision; he was unable to comprehend, halt or heal the approaching cultural war that will engulf us. An Etonian moment, regressive, impotent.