It was Enoch Powell who famously claimed that ‘all political careers end in failure’. That’s probably not true in every case – it depends how you measure ‘failure’ – but it certainly is in Cameron’s. (He announced his resignation today as an MP.) Even historians are not necessarily very good at predicting the judgments of future generations of historians, but the mess he made of the ‘Brexit’ affair, leading – if nothing totally unpredictable intervenes – to Britain’s leaving the European Union against his advice, as well as its knock-on effects on other countries: a diplomatic and economic ground-shift if ever there was one – will surely be the legacy of his that is most written about. Historians can be unforgiving.
No-one is very surprised. We all knew that Cameron’s politics never had any ‘bottom’. Like Blair, but more so, he had no strong principles that one could detect, certainly none that appear to have motivated him; but had come into politics as a ‘career’ choice, like so many MPs these days (on all sides), and probably encouraged by the knowledge that he was born and bred to it. (That’s Eton for you.) His only previous job was in PR – presentation, nothing more. Like most of his ilk, he had no experience of what most people would regard as ‘real life’. He was a smooth operator – I always imagine that condom Steve Bell had him wearing over his head lubricated with KY Jelly – but totally superficial, without substance. His descent into political anonymity and obloquy is fully deserved, and would be welcomed if it weren’t for the damage he leaves behind.
What will he do next? There will be, of course, plenty of lucrative opportunities open to him, with his experience, rich friends and range of contacts. It will be interesting to see if he manages to out-corrupt Blair.
Moving to the other side of the pond, a question. If Clinton dropped out of the Presidential race because of illness, who would replace her? No-one, leaving the field clear for Trump? Her Vice-Presidential running mate? Or perhaps Bernie Saunders, who after all came a very respectable second in the primaries; who a number of polls published at that time predicted would stand a better chance than Hillary against Trump; and who might take over much of Trump’s blue-collar anti-Establishment, anti-globalization support.
Then, with a Corbyn-led Labour party winning the 2020 election, and a self-declared ‘socialist’ in the White House, we could have a transatlantic revolution: socialism in two countries, and the two most unlikely ones at that. (Dream on.)
Ironic that liberal commentators like Paul Krugman were imploring Bernie Sanders to withdraw from the primaries, so that the battle against Trump could be assumed by the really serious candidate, Clinton.
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Sadly, for most politicians holding high office is the aim, and success enough; all the rest is for others to discuss and I doubt they care much what future historians will think. They don’t like criticism but start playing the blame game (e.g. Clegg in his recent biographical contortions)
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