Everybody knows a bloke called Dave…

But who really is this would-be prime minister David Cameron? Do we know him at all?

Name: David William Donald Cameron
Age: 43
Occupation: Conservative Party Leader
Education: Brasenose College, Oxford (History and Politics, First Class)

He’s probably going to be the next prime minister, judging by the latest national poll results. Asked who we would vote for if there was an election tomorrow, 44% of us said we’d mark ‘X’ by Conservative, with a measly 27% choosing Labour and 18% Lib Dem. So David Cameron looks set to be settling in to Number Ten by Spring next year. Isn’t there a feeling, though, that we don’t quite know what we’re getting? Before we snatch with glee the keys of power from Gordon’s clunking fist, might we ask, whose exactly is this smooth white palm we’re dropping them into?

Dave doesn’t like to talk about beginnings. “Birth should never be a barrier,” he demands. Indeed, hear hear! But background has a hugely formative effect – haven’t we a right to explore a little personal history? Dave’s got a lot of history, hundreds of years of it in fact, because he’s directly descended from royalty. William IV was his great-great-great-great grandfather making him a distant (very distant, it has to be said) cousin to the Queen. Privilege remained in the family and Dave received the full, handsome rewards of it; donning dickie-bow and tails he enjoyed the most prestigious of English public-school educations at Eton, where he would meet some of the fourteen ‘Old Boys’ who now form part of his inner team. Dave was a smart lad; he studied at Oxford and gained a first class degree, and his tutor later said he was one of the “ablest” students he had ever encountered.

Other elements of his Oxford career are perhaps less commendable. His membership of the notorious Bullingdon Club, of which chums Boris Johnson and shadow chancellor George Osborne were also a part, has been the subject of much speculation and embarrassment. This dining society for the super rich and social elite has a legendary history marked by the image of upper-class twits cavorting about in £1,200 tuxes, chucking flower pots through windows and glugging champagne out of the bottle. No wonder Dave doesn’t like chatting to the media about university days.

In fact David Cameron has spent a lot of time and effort trying to make up for the judgements people might have made about him from his background. He has styled himself as a man of the people, riding to work on a bike and talking about what music he’s into. His wife, Samantha, modestly dresses in clothes from M&S and says she’s an ordinary gal from Scunthorpe. She doesn’t mention, by the by, that her childhood home was Normanby Park, a 3,000 acre country estate acquired by her family in the late 16th Century. All this of course is irrelevant – so too is the fact that the Times Rich List estimated Dave and Sam’s personal wealth to be in the region of £30 million… Or is it? Can we rest assured that Mr Cameron is in touch with the reality that the vast majority of the people of this country face, when he and most of those around him, come from so narrow and immensely privileged a section of society?

Perhaps we can; after all it will be his policies, not his blue blood that’ll do the talking. Dave says the values that govern those policies are ‘family, community and country’. He says he’s going to ‘get Britain working’ by rigorously reassessing claimants of incapacity benefit. He’ll uproot the bureaucratic ‘big government’ where in its place, he hopes, will flourish a new sense of our own personal responsibility. ‘Tough decisions’ will have to be made about public spending cuts but the NHS and international development will be spared the swing of the axe. But wait, is anybody listening?

There’s no doubt that David Cameron has performed a near miracle pumping life back into the Tory party, which lay dead in the water for years (after all, his only real job outside politics was as a PR man) but are we, as a nation, attracted by his proposals, yearning for his government? Or is it just a case of turning our backs on Brown and New Labour? The Sun’s recent switch certainly seemed to focus on disillusion with the present government rather than optimism about the Tories.

Thus, whether Cameron is known to us or liked remains neither here nor there. In the fear of what some might deem a nightmarish fourth term for Labour, will the nation merely sleep walk into the open arms of Dave Cameron?

Ollie Small

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3 Comments on this post.
  • Rob
    1 December 2009 at 18:37
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    How many of todays top politicians have had a life outside of the doors of political hackery?
    Alan Johnson? Thats about it.
    Cameron is just an uber rich hack, him nor any of the, sigh, ‘rising stars’ of all the parties have any clue of life outside westminster.
    These hacks will inherit the earth and unfortunately a currently disengaged electorate will let them 🙁

  • Daniel
    6 December 2009 at 14:07
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    I agree with Cameron that people shouldn’t judge him on his education or wealth, or his notorious days in the Bullingdon.

    But when you hear conservative policies about Inheritance Tax and protecting the top 2% of society, you can’t help but feel that Cameron’s interests only lie with the super rich.

    This is nothing new though, the Tory party have always been this way and it will never ever change.

  • Alex
    11 December 2009 at 18:43
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    ‘…will the nation merely sleep walk into the open arms of Dave Cameron?’

    Unfortunately Cameron and his team appear to be banking on this scenario. Osbourne, etc. have been particularly effective when stressing the ‘austerity’ agenda, but are yet to launch a push for leadership that emphasizes their unique, positive selling points. Relying on Brown’s unpopularity may be enough to guarantee victory, but if they are to develop a strong majority in parliament they must develop a positive agenda that voters can get behind. For example, Michael Gove’s educational reforms represent a truly radical, effective approach to our vastly unequal, underperforming school set-up that the Tories rarely mention. In addition, if the Conservatives are to thoroughly connect with Britain, they will have to develop a public image that does not rely so heavily on the Cameron-Osbourne axis – i.e. more face time for heavyweights like Hague, Clarke, Gove, etc.

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