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David Cameron


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David William Donald Cameron (born 9 October 1966) is the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom, positions he has occupied since December 2005.

Cameron has been involved in British politics for much of his adult life. He read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, gaining a first class honours degree. He then joined the Conservative Research Department and became Special Adviser to Norman Lamont, and then to Michael Howard. He was Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications for seven years; the company chairman described him as "board material".[2]

A first candidacy for Parliament at Stafford in 1997 ended in defeat but Cameron was elected in 2001 as Member of Parliament for the Oxfordshire constituency of Witney. Promoted to the Opposition front bench two years after entering Parliament, he rose rapidly to be head of policy co-ordination during the 2005 general election campaign.[2][3]

Citizentube Interview: David Cameron

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Cameron won the Conservative leadership later that year after presenting himself as a young and moderate candidate who would appeal to young voters. His early leadership saw the Conservative Party establish a lead in opinion polls over Tony Blair's Labour for the first time in over ten years. When Gordon Brown replaced Blair as Labour leader and Prime Minister, Labour regained its lead.[4][5] However, in mid October 2007, the Conservatives again overtook Labour in the polls, after Brown was seen to be indecisive over calling an election.[6]

Family background

David Cameron was born in London, but brought up at Peasemore, near Newbury, in the English county of Berkshire,[7] the son of stockbroker Ian Donald Cameron and Mary Fleur Mount the second daughter of Sir William Malcolm Mount, 2nd Baronet.[8] His father was born at Blairmore House near Huntly, Aberdeenshire,[9] which was built by Cameron's grandfather Ewen Donald Cameron's maternal grandfather Alexander Geddes[10] who had made a fortune in the grain business in Chicago and had returned to Scotland in the 1880s.[11] The Cameron family were originally from the Inverness area of the Scottish Highlands.[12]

His father's family had a long history in the world of finance: David Cameron's great grandfather Arthur Francis Levita (brother of Sir Cecil Levita)[13] of Panmure Gordon stockbrokers and his great-great grandfather Sir Ewen Cameron,[12] London head of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank played key roles in discussions led by the Rothschilds with the Japanese central banker (later Prime Minister) Takahashi Korekiyo concerning the selling of war bonds during the Russo-Japanese war.[14]

His great grandfather Ewen Allan Cameron, a senior partner with Panmure Gordon stockbrokers was also a notable figure in the financial world serving on the Council for Foreign Bondholders[15] and the Committee for Chinese Bondholders set up by the then Governor of the Bank of England Montagu Norman in November, 1935.[16] His grandfather Ewen Donald and father Ian Donald also worked for Panmure Gordon stockbrokers, his father also serving as a director of the estate agents John D Wood.[2]

Cameron is a direct descendant of King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan (and thus 5th cousin, twice removed of Queen Elizabeth II) through his father's maternal grandmother Stephanie Levita, daughter of the society surgeon Sir Alfred Cooper who was also father of the statesman and author Duff Cooper, grandfather of the publisher and man of letters Rupert Hart-Davis and historian John Julius Norwich, and great grandfather of the TV presenter Adam Hart-Davis and journalist and writer Duff Hart-Davis (David's second cousins once removed). His mother is first cousin of the writer and political commentator Ferdinand Mount.[17]

Education

Heatherdown Preparatory School

At the age of seven, Cameron was sent to Heatherdown Preparatory School at Winkfield in Berkshire, which counts Prince Andrew and Prince Edward among its alumni. A feature on Cameron in The Mail on Sunday of 18 March 2007[18] reported that in July 1978, when Cameron was 11, Mrs Gordon Getty flew her son Peter, grandson of the oil billionaire John Paul Getty and four of his classmates to the United States to celebrate his birthday. Cameron was one of the classmates chosen to accompany him.

Eton

Cameron was educated at Eton College, a prestigious English public school,[19] following his elder brother Alex who was three years above him;[20] where his early interest was in art.[20] Cameron hit trouble in May 1983 six weeks before taking his O-levels when he was named as having smoked cannabis. Because he admitted the offence and had not been involved in selling drugs, he was not expelled, but he was fined, prevented from leaving school grounds, and given a "Georgic" (a punishment which involved copying 500 lines of Latin text).[21]

Cameron recovered from this episode and passed 12 O-levels, and then studied three A-Levels in History of Art, History and Economics with Politics. He obtained three 'A' grades and a '1' grade in the Scholarship level exam in Economics and Politics.[22] He then stayed on to sit the entrance exam for the University of Oxford, which was sat the following autumn. He passed, did well at interview, and was given a place at Brasenose College, his first choice.[23]

After finally leaving Eton just before Christmas 1984, Cameron had nine months of a gap year before going up to Oxford. In January he began work as a researcher for Tim Rathbone, Conservative MP for Lewes and his godfather, in his Parliamentary office. He was there only for three months, but used the time to attend debates in the House of Commons.[24] Through his father, he was then employed for a further three months in Hong Kong by Jardine Matheson as a 'ship jumper', an administrative post for which no experience was needed but which gave him some experience of work.[25]

Returning from Hong Kong he visited Moscow and a Yalta beach in the Soviet Union, and was at one point approached by two Russian men speaking fluent English. Cameron was later told by one of his professors that it was 'definitely an attempt' by the KGB to recruit him.[26]

Oxford

Cameron studied at the University of Oxford, where he read for a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) at Brasenose College. His tutor at Oxford, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, described him as "one of the ablest and nicest"[27] students he has taught, whose political views were "moderate and sensible conservative".[2]

While at Oxford, Cameron was captain of Brasenose College's tennis team.[2] He was also a member of the student dining society the Bullingdon Club,[28] which recently has obtained a reputation for a drinking culture associated with boisterous behaviour and damaging property usually in the private rooms of restaurants and pubs hired out to the club.[29] A photograph showing Cameron in a tailcoat with other members of the club, including Boris Johnson, surfaced in 2007, but was later withdrawn by the copyright holder.[30] He also belonged to the Octagon Club,[28] another dining society. Cameron graduated in 1988 with a first class honours degree.[19]

Family life

Cameron married Samantha Sheffield, daughter of Sir Reginald Sheffield, 8th Baronet and Annabel Astor, Viscountess Astor, on 1 June 1996 at Ginge Manor in Oxfordshire. Among the guests at the wedding were Jade Jagger, a friend of the Sheffield family.[31] The Camerons have three children. Their first child Ivan Reginald Ian was born on 8 April 2002. He was born with cerebral palsy and severe epilepsy. Recalling the receipt of this news, Cameron is quoted as saying: "The news hits you like a freight train... You are depressed for a while because you are grieving for the difference between your hopes and the reality. But then you get over that, because he's wonderful!"[32]

The Camerons also have a daughter, Nancy Gwendoline[33] (born 19 January 2004), and another son, Arthur Elwen (born 14 February 2006).[34] Cameron took paternity leave when his second son was born, and this decision received broad coverage.[35] However, Cameron has been urged by a Telegraph commentator to mention his family less in public.[36]

Pre-Parliamentary career

Conservative Research Department

After graduation, Cameron worked for the Conservative Research Department between 1988 and 1992. A feature on Cameron in the Mail on Sunday on 18 March 2007 reported that on the day he was due to attend a job interview at Conservative Central Office a phone call was received from Buckingham Palace. The male caller stated, "I understand you are to see David Cameron. I've tried everything I can to dissuade him from wasting his time on politics but I have failed. I am ringing to tell you that you are about to meet a truly remarkable young man."[18]

In 1991, Cameron was seconded to Downing Street to work on briefing John Major for his then biweekly session of Prime Minister's Questions. One newspaper gave Cameron the credit for "sharper ... despatch box performances" by Major,[37] which included highlighting for Major, "a dreadful piece of doublespeak" by Tony Blair (then the Labour Employment spokesman) over the effect of a national minimum wage.[38] He became head of the political section of the Conservative Research Department, and in August 1991 was tipped to follow Judith Chaplin as Political Secretary to the Prime Minister.[39]

However, Cameron lost out to Jonathan Hill who was appointed in March 1992. He was given the responsibility for briefing John Major for his press conferences during the 1992 general election.[40] During the campaign, Cameron was one of the young "Brat pack" of party strategists who worked between 12 and 20 hours a day, sleeping in the house of Alan Duncan in Gayfere Street which had been Major's campaign headquarters during his bid for the Conservative leadership.[41] Cameron headed the economic section; it was while working on this campaign that Cameron first worked closely with Steve Hilton, who was later to become Director of Strategy during his party leadership.[42] The strain of getting up at 4:45 AM every day was reported to have led Cameron to decide to leave politics in favour of journalism.[43]

Special Advisor

The Conservatives' unexpected success in the 1992 election led Cameron to hit back at older party members who had criticised him and his colleagues. He was quoted as saying, the day after the election, "whatever people say about us, we got the campaign right," and that they had listened to their campaign workers on the ground rather than the newspapers. He revealed he had led other members of the team across Smith Square to jeer at Transport House, the former Labour headquarters.[44] Cameron was rewarded with a promotion to Special Advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont.[45]

Cameron was working for Lamont at the time of Black Wednesday, when pressure from currency speculators forced the Pound sterling out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. At the 1992 Conservative Party conference in October, Cameron had a tough time trying to arrange to brief the speakers in the economic debate, having to resort to putting messages on the internal television system imploring the mover of the motion, Patricia Morris, to contact him.[46] Later that month Cameron joined a delegation of Special Advisers who visited Germany to build better relations with the Christian Democratic Union; he was reported to be "still smarting" over the Bundesbank's contribution to the economic crisis.[47]

Cameron's boss Norman Lamont fell out with John Major after Black Wednesday and became highly unpopular with the public. Taxes needed to be raised in the 1993 budget, and Cameron fed the options Lamont was considering through to Conservative Central Office for their political acceptability to be assessed.[48] However, Lamont's unpopularity did not necessarily affect Cameron: he was considered as a potential "kamikaze" candidate for the Newbury by-election, which included the area where he grew up.[49] However, Cameron decided not to run.

During the by-election, Lamont gave the response "Je ne regrette rien" to a question about whether he most regretted claiming to see "the green shoots of recovery" or admitted "singing in his bath" with happiness at leaving the ERM. Cameron was identified by one journalist as having inspired this gaffe; it was speculated that the heavy Conservative defeat in Newbury may have cost Cameron his chance of becoming Chancellor himself (even though as he was not a Member of Parliament he could not have been).[50] Lamont was sacked at the end of May 1993, and decided not to write the usual letter of resignation; Cameron was given the responsibility to issue to the press a statement of self-justification.[51]

Home Office

After Lamont was sacked, Cameron remained at the Treasury for less than a month before being specifically recruited by Home Secretary Michael Howard; it was commented that he was still "very much in favour".[52] It was later reported that many at the Treasury would have preferred Cameron to carry on.[53] At the beginning of September 1993, Cameron applied to go on Conservative Central Office's list of Parliamentary candidates.[54]

According to Derek Lewis, then Director-General of the Prison Service, Cameron showed him a "his and hers list" of proposals made by Howard and his wife, Sandra. Lewis said that Sandra Howard's list included reducing the quality of prison food, although Sandra Howard denied this claim. Lewis reported that Cameron was "uncomfortable" about the list.[55] In defending Sandra Howard and insisting that she made no such proposal, the journalist Bruce Anderson wrote that Cameron had proposed a much shorter definition on prison catering which revolved around the phrase "balanced diet", and that Lewis had written thanking Cameron for a valuable contribution.[56]

During his work for Howard, Cameron often briefed the press. In March 1994, someone leaked to the press that the Labour Party had called for a meeting with John Major to discuss a consensus on the Prevention of Terrorism Act. After a leak inquiry failed to find the culprit, Labour MP Peter Mandelson demanded of Howard that he give an assurance that Cameron had not been responsible, which Howard gave.[57][58]

Carlton

In July 1994, Cameron left his role as Special Adviser to work as the Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications.[59] Carlton, which had won the ITV franchise for London weekdays in 1991, were a growing media company which also had film distribution and video producing arms. In 1997 Cameron played up the company's prospects for digital terrestrial television, for which it joined with Granada television and BSkyB to form British Digital Broadcasting.[60] In a roundtable discussion on the future of broadcasting in 1998 he criticised the effect of overlapping different regulators on the industry.[61]

Carlton's consortium did win the digital terrestrial franchise but the resulting company suffered difficulties in attracting subscribers. In 1999 the Express on Sunday newspaper claimed Cameron had rubbished one of its stories which had given an accurate number of subscribers, because he wanted the number to appear higher than expected.[62] Cameron resigned as Director of Corporate Affairs in February 2001 in order to fight for election to Parliament, although he remained on the payroll as a consultant.[63]

Stafford candidate

Having been approved for the candidates' list, Cameron began looking for a seat to contest. He was reported to have missed out on selection for Ashford in December 1994 after failing to get to the selection meeting due to train delays.[64] Early in 1996, he was selected for Stafford, a new constituency created in boundary changes, which was projected to have a Conservative majority.[65] At the 1996 Conservative Party conference he called for tax cuts in the forthcoming budget to be targeted at the low paid and to "small businesses where people took money out of their own pockets to put into companies to keep them going".[66] He also said the party, "Should be proud of the Tory tax record but that people needed reminding of its achievements...It's time to return to our tax cutting agenda. The Socialist Prime Ministers of Europe have endorsed Tony Blair because they want a federal pussy cat and not a British lion."[67]

When writing his election address, Cameron made his own opposition to British membership of the single European currency clear, pledging not to support it. This was a break with official Conservative policy but about 200 other candidates were making similar declarations.[68] Otherwise, Cameron kept very closely to the national party line. He also campaigned using the claim that a Labour government would increase the cost of a pint of beer by 24p; however the Labour candidate David Kidney portrayed Cameron as "a right-wing Tory". Stafford had a swing almost the same as the national swing, which made it one of the many seats to fall to Labour: David Kidney had a majority of 4,314.[69][70]

Parliamentary career

Selection contests

In the round of selection contests taking place in the run-up to the 2001 general election, Cameron again attempted to be selected for a winnable seat. He tried out for the Kensington and Chelsea seat after the death of Alan Clark,[71] but did not make the shortlist. He was in the final two but narrowly lost at Wealden in March 2000,[72] a loss ascribed by Samantha Cameron to his lack of spontaneity when speaking.[73]

Witney candidate

On 4 April 2000 Cameron was selected as prospective candidate for Witney in Oxfordshire. This was a safe Conservative seat but its sitting MP Shaun Woodward (who had worked with Cameron on the 1992 election campaign) had joined the Labour Party; newspapers claimed Cameron and Woodward had "loathed each other",[74] although Cameron's biographers Francis Elliott and James Hanning describe them as being "on fairly friendly terms".[73] Cameron put a great deal of effort into "nursing" his constituency, turning up at social functions, and attacked Woodward for changing his mind on fox hunting to support a ban.[75]

During the election campaign, Cameron accepted the offer of writing a regular column for The Guardian's online section.[76] He won the seat with a 1.9% swing to the Conservatives and a majority of 7,973.[77][78]

Parliament

Upon his election to Parliament, he served as a member of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, a plum choice for a new MP. It was Cameron's proposal that the Committee launch an inquiry into the law on drugs,[79] and during the inquiry he urged the consideration of "radical options".[80] The report recommended a downgrading of Ecstasy from Class A to Class B, as well as moves towards a policy of 'harm reduction', which Cameron defended.[81]

Cameron determinedly attempted to increase his public profile, offering quotes on matters of public controversy. He opposed the payment of compensation to Gurbux Singh, who had resigned as head of the Commission for Racial Equality after a confrontation with the police;[82] and commented that the Home Affairs Select Committee had taken a long time to discuss whether the phrase "black market" should be used.[83] However, he was passed over for a front bench promotion in July 2002; Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith did invite Cameron and his ally George Osborne to coach him on Prime Minister's Questions in November 2002. The next week, Cameron deliberately abstained in a vote on allowing same sex and unmarried couples to adopt children jointly, against a whip to oppose; his abstention was noted.[84] The wide scale of abstentions and rebellious votes destabilised the Iain Duncan Smith leadership.

In June 2003, Cameron was appointed as a shadow minister in the Privy Council Office as a deputy to Eric Forth who was then Shadow Leader of the House. He also became a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party when Michael Howard took over the leadership in November of that year. He was appointed to the opposition frontbench local government spokesman in 2004 before being promoted into the shadow cabinet that June as head of policy co-ordination. Later he became shadow education secretary in the post-election reshuffle.[3]

From February 2002[85] until August 2005 he was a non-executive director of Urbium PLC, operator of the Tiger Tiger bar chain.[86]

Votes

In November 2001, David Cameron voted in favour of only allowing people detained at a police station to be fingerprinted and searched for an identifying birthmark if it is in connection with a terrorism investigation. [87] In March 2002, he voted against banning the hunting of wild mammals with dogs.[88] In April 2003, he voted against the introduction of a bill to ban smoking in restaurants. [89] In June 2003, he voted against NHS Foundation Trusts.[90]

In March 2003, he voted against a motion that the case had not yet been made for for war against Iraq,[91] and voted to declare war.[92] In October 2003, however, he voted in favour of setting up a judicial inquiry into the Iraq War.[93] In October 2004, he voted in favour of the Civil Partnership Bill.[94] In February 2005, he voted in favour of changing the text in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill from "The Secretary of State may make a control order against an individual" to "The Secretary of State may apply to the court for a control order..."[95] In October 2005, he voted against the Identity Cards Bill.[96]

Leadership of the Conservative Party

Leadership election

Following the Labour victory in the May 2005 General Election, Michael Howard announced his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party and set a lengthy timetable for the leadership election, as part of a plan (subsequently rejected) to change the leadership election rules.[97]

Cameron announced formally that he would be a candidate for the position on 29 September 2005. Parliamentary colleagues supporting him initially included Boris Johnson, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, then Shadow Defence Secretary and deputy leader of the party Michael Ancram, Oliver Letwin[98] and former party leader William Hague.[99] Despite this, his campaign did not gain significant support prior to the 2005 Conservative Party Conference. However his speech, delivered without notes, proved a significant turning point. In the speech he vowed to make people, "feel good about being Conservatives again" and said he wanted, "to switch on a whole new generation."[100]

In the first ballot of Conservative MPs on 18 October 2005, Cameron came second, with 56 votes, slightly more than expected; David Davis had fewer than predicted at 62 votes; Liam Fox came third with 42 votes and Ken Clarke was eliminated with 38 votes. In the second ballot on 20 October 2005, Cameron came first with 90 votes; David Davis was second, with 57, and Liam Fox was eliminated with 51 votes.[101] All 198 Conservative MPs voted in both ballots.

The next stage of the election process, between Davis and Cameron, was a vote open to the entire Conservative party membership. Cameron was elected with more than twice as many votes as Davis and more than half of all ballots issued; Cameron won 134,446 votes on a 78% turnout, beating Davis's 64,398 votes.[102] His election as the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition, was announced on 6 December 2005. As is customary for an Opposition leader not already a member, upon election Cameron became a member of the Privy Council, being formally approved to join on 14 December 2005, and sworn of the Council on 8 March 2006.[103]

Allegations of drug use

During the leadership election allegations were made that Cameron had used cannabis and cocaine recreationally before becoming an MP.[104] Pressed on this point during the BBC programme Question Time, Cameron said "I'm allowed to have had a private life before politics in which we make mistakes and we do things that we should not and we are all human and we err and stray."[105] Hours before the second ballot of MPs on 20 October 2005, he stated in an interview with Channel 4 that he had not taken Class A drugs since being elected to Parliament in 2001.[106][107][108]

A 2007 book revealed his Eton punishment for cannabis use and claims Cameron continued to smoke the drug while studying at Oxford.[109] According to friends he described his school experience as a "wake-up call".[110]

Shadow Cabinet appointments

His Shadow Cabinet appointments have included MPs associated with the various wings of the party. Former leader William Hague was appointed to the Foreign Affairs brief and David Davis was retained as Shadow Home Secretary. Hague, assisted by Davis, stood in for Cameron during his paternity leave in February 2006.[111]

Standing in opinion polls

During the first month of Cameron's leadership, the Conservatives' standing in opinion polls rose, with several pollsters putting the Conservative party ahead of the ruling Labour party. In early Spring 2006 the Conservative and Labour parties drew even, but after the May 2006 local elections various polls once again generally showed Conservative leads.[112] One poll for The Independent in April 2007 showed Labour falling to 27% and the Conservatives rising one point to 36%, widening the Conservative lead again to nine-points.[113]

Following Gordon Brown's ascension to the premiership on 27 June 2007, Labour experienced an increase in their poll ratings, taking them ahead of the Conservatives. Although the Tories dismissed this phenomenon as a short-term "Brown bounce", Labour's poll ratings continued to grow steadily at Cameron's expense: an ICM poll[114] on 15 July 2007 had Labour rating at 40% and the Conservatives at 33%, in the wake of controversies over Cameron's policies on grammar schools and museum fees and his proposals for marriage tax incentives.

An ICM poll[115] on 19 September 2007 found not only that Labour were leading the Conservative by eight-points (40% to 32%), but that Cameron was now rated as the least popular of the three main party leaders (behind Gordon Brown and Sir Menzies Campbell). A YouGov poll for Channel 4[116] one week later (and after the Labour Party conference) extended Brown's lead to 11-points, enough to secure a three-figure parliamentary majority, prompting further speculation about an early election. After the Conservative Party conference in the first week of October 2007, The Guardian reported that the Conservatives had drawn level with Labour on 38% each.[117] On 6 October, Gordon Brown declared he would not call an election for Autumn 2007 despite weeks of speculation.[118] This reversal, was the start of a rapid decline in Brown's and the Labour party's standings in the polls made worse by the Northern Rock Banking crisis, the loss of 25 million child benefit records and the donor scandal. During November a series of polls showed improved support for the Conservatives so that on 2 December, an ICM poll[119] gave the Conservatives an 11 point lead over Labour (41% to 30%).

Policies and views

Cameron describes himself as a "modern compassionate conservative" and has spoken of a need for a new style of politics, saying that he was "fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster".[120] He has stated that he is "certainly a big Thatcher fan, but I don't know whether that makes me a Thatcherite."[121] He has also claimed to be a "liberal Conservative", and "not a deeply ideological person."[122] Cameron has stated that he does not intend to oppose the government as a matter of course, and will offer his support in areas of agreement. He has urged politicians to concentrate more on improving people's happiness and "general well-being", instead of focusing solely on "financial wealth".[123] There have been claims that he described himself to journalists at a dinner during the leadership contest as the "heir to Blair".[124]

Criticism of other parties and politicians

Cameron has accused the United Kingdom Independence Party of being "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly,"[125] leading UKIP leader Nigel Farage to demand an apology for the remarks. Right-wing Conservative MP Bob Spink also criticised the remarks,[126] as did the The Daily Telegraph.[127]

Cameron has criticised Prime Minister Gordon Brown (Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time) for being "an analogue politician in a digital age" and repeatedly refers to him as "the roadblock to reform".[128] He has also said that John Prescott "clearly looks a fool" in light of allegations of ministerial misconduct.[129] During a speech to the Ethnic Media Conference on 29 November 2006[130] Cameron also described Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, as an "ageing far left politician" in reference to Livingstone's views on multiculturalism.[131]

However, Cameron was seen encouraging Conservative MPs to join the standing ovation given to Tony Blair at the end of his last Prime Minister's Question Time; he had paid tribute to the "huge efforts" Blair had made and said Blair had "considerable achievements to his credit, whether it is peace in Northern Ireland or his work in the developing world, which will endure".[132]

Criticism of Cameron

Presentation and policies

Some of Cameron's critics are unhappy with the Conservative Party's new emphasis and its presentation. They dislike his use of language and emphasis on style as much as substance, seeing it as the stance of an anti-politician.[vague] New Statesman has unfavourably likened his "new style of politics" to Tony Blair's early leadership years.[133] Cameron has been accused of playing excessive attention to image. ITV News broadcast footage from the 2006 Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth which showed Cameron wearing four different sets of clothes within the space of a few hours.[134] On the right, Peter Hitchens has written that, "Mr Cameron has abandoned the last significant difference between his party and the established left", by embracing social liberalism.[135] Norman Tebbit has likened Cameron to Pol Pot, "intent on purging even the memory of Thatcherism before building a New Modern Compassionate Green Globally Aware Party".[136] Cameron has responded to criticism from Hitchens by branding him a "maniac", according to Hitchens himself in his Mail on Sunday column.[137] Ex-Conservative MP Quentin Davies, who defected to Labour on 26 June 2007, branded him "superficial, unreliable and [with] an apparent lack of any clear convictions" and stated that David Cameron had turned the Conservative Party's mission into a "PR agenda".[138]

On 22 July 2007 it was reported that at least two and as many as six Conservative MPs had sent letters to Sir Michael Spicer, chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee, demanding a no confidence vote in Mr Cameron's leadership.[139]

In November 2007, Cameron was criticised by Labour MP Hazel Blears for "dithering" and failing to condemn remarks made in a newspaper column by a Conservative parliamentarty candidate, Nigel Hastilow, claiming that Enoch Powell had been "right" about immigration. Both David Davis and George Osborne had condemned Hastilow's comments.[140]

Allegations of social elitism

The Guardian has accused Cameron of relying on, "the most prestigious of old-boy networks in his attempt to return the Tories to power", pointing out that three members of his shadow cabinet and 15 members of his front bench team are "Old Etonians".[141] Similarly, The Sunday Times has commented that "David Cameron has more Etonians around him than any leader since Macmillan" and asked whether he can "represent Britain from such a narrow base."[142] Cabinet minister Hazel Blears has said of Cameron "You have to wonder about a man who surrounds himself with so many people who went to the same school. I'm pretty sure I don't want 21st-century Britain run by people who went to just one school."[143] Cameron's background was the subject, in part, of a Dispatches programme on March 2007 on Channel 4 written and presented by Peter Hitchens.[144]

In a similar way, Cameron's "A-List" of prospective Parliamentary Candidates has been attacked by members of his party.[145] The "A-List" policy has now been discontinued in favour of gender balanced final short lists, criticised by senior Conservative MP and Prisons Spokeswoman Ann Widdecombe as an "insult to women".[146]

Even staunch supporters of the party have begun to criticise what they see as cronyism on the front benches, with Sir Tom Cowie, working class founder of Arriva and former Conservative donor, ceasing his donations in August 2007 due to disillusionment with Cameron's leadership, saying, "the Tory party seems to be run now by Old Etonians and they don't seem to understand how other people live." In reply, Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said when a party was changing "there will always be people who are uncomfortable with that process".[147]

Satire and trivia

Cameron's relatively young age and inexperience before becoming leader have invited satirical comparison with Blair. Private Eye soon published a picture of both leaders on their front cover, with the caption "World's first face transplant a success."[148] He has also been described by comedy writer and broadcaster Charlie Brooker as being like "a hollow Easter egg with no bag of sweets inside" in his Guardian column.[149]

Cameron is reported to be known to friends and family as 'Dave' rather than David, although he invariably uses 'David' in public.[150] However, critics of Cameron often refer to him as "Call me Dave" in an attempt to imply populism in the same way as "Call me Tony" was used in 1997.[151] The Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein has condemned those who attempt to belittle Cameron by calling him 'Dave'.[152]

Cameron was characterised as "Dave the Chameleon", who would change what he said to match the expectations of his audience, in a Labour Party Political Broadcast. Cameron later claimed that the broadcast had become his daughter's "favourite video".[153]

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