- Category : Political
- Type : ME
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (7,8,13)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Penetration 3
David William Donald Cameron (born 9 October 1966) is the current leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the United Kingdom. He has occupied both positions since December 2005.
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.
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.
Cameron won the Conservative leadership later that year after being seen 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. Although they went behind for a time after Gordon Brown replaced Blair as Labour leader and Prime Minister, the Conservatives were consistently ahead throughout 2008. As of January 2009 the Conservatives enjoyed a lead of 13 points over Labour.
David Cameron was born in London, but brought up at Peasemore, near Newbury, in the English county of Berkshire but spent much of his early life in Totley on the outskirts of Sheffield, the son of stockbroker Ian Donald Cameron and his wife Mary Fleur Mount the second daughter of Sir William Mount, 2nd Baronet. His father was born at Blairmore House near Huntly in Scotland, which was built by Cameron's grandfather Ewen Donald Cameron's maternal grandfather Alexander Geddes who had made a fortune in the grain business in Chicago and had returned to Scotland in the 1880s. The Cameron family were originally from the Inverness area of the Scottish Highlands.
His father's family had a very long history in the world of finance: David Cameron's great grandfather Arthur Francis Levita (brother of Sir Cecil Levita) of Panmure Gordon stockbrokers and his great-great grandfather Sir Ewen Cameron, 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.
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 and the Committee for Chinese Bondholders set up by the then Governor of the Bank of England Montagu Norman in November, 1935. 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.
Cameron is a direct descendant of King William IV (4th great grandfather) 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 Cameron's second cousins once removed). His mother is first cousin of the writer and political commentator Ferdinand Mount and thus a second cousin of his wife.
Heatherdown Preparatory School
At the age of seven, Cameron attended the independent Heatherdown Preparatory School at Winkfield in Berkshire, which counted Prince Andrew and Prince Edward among its alumni. The school closed in the early 1980s, and the grounds are now occupied by the Licensed Victuallers' School. A feature on Cameron in The Mail on Sunday of 18 March 2007 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 including Cameron to the United States to celebrate his birthday.
Cameron was educated at Eton College, often described as the most famous public school in the world, and traditionally referred to as "the chief nurse of England's statesmen". He followed his elder brother Alex who was three years above him; his early interest was in art. 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).
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Cameron studied at the University of Oxford, where he read for a B.A. 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" students he has taught, whose political views were "moderate and sensible conservative". When commenting on his former pupil's ideas about a bill of rights replacing the human rights act, Professor Bogdanor commented "I think he is very confused. I've read his speech and it's filled with contradictions. There are one or two good things in it but one glimpses them, as it were, through a mist of misunderstanding".
While at Oxford, Cameron was captain of Brasenose College's tennis team. He was also a member of the student dining society the Bullingdon Club, which has a reputation for an outlandish drinking culture associated with boisterous behaviour and damaging property - usually in the private rooms of restaurants and pubs hired out to the club. 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. He also belonged to the Octagon Club, another dining society. Cameron graduated in 1988 with a first class honours degree. Cameron is still in touch with many of his former Oxford classmates, including Boris Johnson and close family friend Reverend James Hand.
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."
In 1991, Cameron was seconded to Downing Street to work on briefing John Major for his then bi-weekly session of Prime Minister's Questions. One newspaper gave Cameron the credit for "sharper ... despatch box performances" by Major, 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. Cameron was rewarded with a promotion to Special Advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont.
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. Cameron, who was unknown to the public at the time, can be spotted at Lamont's side in news film of the latter's announcement of British withdrawal from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism that evening. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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). 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.
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". It was later reported that many at the Treasury would have preferred Cameron to carry on. At the beginning of September 1993, Cameron applied to go on Conservative Central Office's list of Parliamentary candidates.
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. 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.
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.
In July 1994, Cameron left his role as Special Adviser to work as the Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications. 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. In a roundtable discussion on the future of broadcasting in 1998 he criticised the effect of overlapping different regulators on the industry.
The company chairman described him as "board material". Others who had to work with him were less complimentary though. Senior Daily Telegraph journalist Jeff Randall said he would not trust Mr Cameron "with my daughter's pocket money" and that he "never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative", while Sun business editor Ian King described him as a "poisonous, slippery individual".
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. 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.
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. Early in 1996, he was selected for Stafford, a new constituency created in boundary changes, which was projected to have a Conservative majority. 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". 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."
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. 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. 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, but did not make the shortlist.
He was in the final two but narrowly lost at Wealden in March 2000, a loss ascribed by Samantha Cameron to his lack of spontaneity when speaking.
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", although Cameron's biographers Francis Elliott and James Hanning describe them as being "on fairly friendly terms". 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.
During the election campaign, Cameron accepted the offer of writing a regular column for The Guardian's online section. He won the seat with a 1.9% swing to the Conservatives and a majority of 7,973.
Member of 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, and during the inquiry he urged the consideration of "radical options". 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.
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; and commented that the Home Affairs Select Committee had taken a long time to discuss whether the phrase "black market" should be used. 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. 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.
From February 2002 until August 2005 he was a non-executive director of Urbium PLC, operator of the Tiger Tiger bar chain.
Leadership of the Conservative Party
Main article: Conservative Party (UK) leadership election, 2005
See also Political pledges of David Cameron
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.
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 and former party leader William Hague. 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."
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. 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. 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.
Cameron's appearance on the cover of Time in September 2008 was said by the Daily Mail to present him to the world as 'Prime Minister in waiting'.
Policies and views
Main article: Political positions of David Cameron
Self-description of 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". He has stated that he is "certainly a big Thatcher fan, but I don't know whether that makes me a Thatcherite." He has also claimed to be a "liberal Conservative", and "not a deeply ideological person." 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". There have been claims that he described himself to journalists at a dinner during the leadership contest as the "heir to Blair".. He believes that British Muslims have a duty to integrate into British culture, but notes that they find aspects such as high family breakdown and high drug use uninspiring, and notes that "Not for the first time, I found myself thinking that it is mainstream Britain which needs to integrate more with the British Asian way of life, not the other way around."
Mr Cameron co-operated with Dylan Jones, giving him interviews and access, to enable him to produce the book, Cameron on Cameron.
Voted as MP (examples)
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. In March 2002, he voted against banning the hunting of wild mammals with dogs, being an occasional hunter himself. In April 2003, he voted against the introduction of a bill to ban smoking in restaurants. In June 2003, he voted against NHS Foundation Trusts.
In March 2003, he voted against a motion that the case had not yet been made for war against Iraq, and voted to declare war. In October 2003, however, he voted in favour of setting up a judicial inquiry into the Iraq War. In October 2004, he voted in favour of the Civil Partnership Bill. 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..." In October 2005, he voted against the Identity Cards Bill.
Criticism of other parties and politicians
Cameron has criticised 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". He has also said that John Prescott "clearly looks a fool" in light of allegations of ministerial misconduct. During a speech to the Ethnic Media Conference on 29 November 2006 Cameron also described Ken Livingstone, the then Mayor of London, as an "ageing far left politician" in reference to Livingstone's views on multiculturalism.
Cameron has accused the United Kingdom Independence Party of being "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly," leading UKIP leader Nigel Farage to demand an apology for the remarks. Right-wing Conservative MP Bob Spink, who has since defected to UKIP, also criticised the remarks, as did the The Daily Telegraph.
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".
In 2006, Cameron made a speech in which he described extremist Islamic organisations and the British National Party as "mirror images" to each other, both preaching "creeds of pure hatred".
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.
New Statesman has unfavourably likened his "new style of politics" to Tony Blair's early leadership years. Cameron has been accused of paying 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. 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. 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". Cameron has responded to criticism from Hitchens by branding him a "maniac", according to Hitchens himself in his The Mail on Sunday column. Ex-Conservative MP Quentin Davies, who defected to Labour on 26 June 2007, branded him "superficial, unreliable and an apparent lack of any clear convictions" and stated that David Cameron had turned the Conservative Party's mission into a "PR agenda".
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.
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 parliamentary candidate, Nigel Hastilow, claiming that Enoch Powell had been "right" about immigration.
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". 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." 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." Cameron's background was the subject, in part, of a Dispatches programme on March 2007 on Channel 4 written and presented by Peter Hitchens.
In a similar way, Cameron's "A-List" of prospective Parliamentary Candidates has been attacked by members of his party. 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".
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".
In February 2008, the Conservative Party released a document entitled "Government by Gimmick", which described twenty six announcements, which it claimed "have sought to grab the headlines, but amounted to nothing". Among the examples given was a plan to allow sixteen to eighteen year old students to make memorial visits to the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp:
“ What was announced: "Two pupils from every sixth form and college in the country will be able to visit Auschwitz and learn about the Holocaust thanks to £4.65 million of funding" (DCSF press release, 4 February 2008)
In fact schools would have to find £100 to fund every sixth-former’s trip (Times, 4 February 2008)
The announcement received widespread criticism, with Channel Four News accusing Cameron of calling trips to Auschwitz gimmicks, and Labour MP Jim Murphy branding Cameron's remark "sick and ignorant"; the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said that they were surprised and disappointed by his comments, calling for an apology for his criticism. Cameron's spokesman responded by saying that trips to Auschwitz were a "brilliant idea" but that the Conservatives were critical of the Government announcing trips to Auschwitz "without providing the necessary funding".
Cameron's relatively young age and inexperience before becoming leader have invited satirical comparison with Tony Blair. Private Eye soon published a picture of both leaders on their front cover, with the caption "World's first face transplant a success." 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.
Cameron is reported to be known to friends and family as 'Dave' rather than David, although he invariably uses 'David' in public. 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. The Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein has condemned those who attempt to belittle Cameron by calling him 'Dave'.
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".
Allegations of recreational drug use
During the leadership election allegations were made that Cameron had used cannabis and cocaine recreationally before becoming an MP. Pressed on this point during the BBC programme Question Time, Cameron expressed the view that everybody was allowed to "err and stray" in their past. . His refusal to deny consumption of either cannabis or cocaine prior to his parliamentary career has been interpreted as a tacit admission that he has in fact consumed both of these illegal drugs. During his 2005 Conservative leadership campaign he addressed the question of drug consumption by remarking that "I did lots of things before I came into politics which I shouldn't have done. We all did." .
The "environmental hypocrisy"
From the outset of his leadership of the Conservative Party, Cameron has sought to publicise his use of a bicycle to commute to work. However, in the Spring of 2006 he was photographed commuting to work on bicycle with a chauffeur-driven limousine following him carrying his belongings, and his Conservative Party spokesperson subsequently admitted that this is a regular arrangement for Cameron. This has led to allegations of hypocrisy around any claims to "green" credentials.
Allegations of playing party politics amid global crisis
During the British Government's tackling of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, also known as the "Credit Crunch", David Cameron initially declared that the Conservative Party would support the Government's measures by avoiding bipartisan conflicts over the issue. However, by the end of the week, he had attacked the Prime Minister's handling of the economy accusing Gordon Brown of a "complete and utter failure" in economic policy. This led to accusations of "playing party politics" with what is an international crisis that has wreaked havoc on financial markets worldwide and allegations of hypocrisy given that "Cameron was wrong on Northern Rock, wrong on short-selling , wrong on Bradford & Bingley and wrong on his assessment of the global nature of the financial markets and its impact on our economy". On the same day Labour's lead over the Conservatives in an opinion poll on perceived economic competence widened to 11 per cent.
The "Titian" incident
During PM's questions on Wednesday 11 February 2009, David Cameron asserted that Gordon Brown's indication of the famous artist Titian's age of 90 was impossible, due to the artist dying at the age of 86. Later that day, the Wikipedia entry for Titian was edited to show his date of death to be 4 years earlier at 1572. It was later admitted by a party spokesman to be "an overeager member of staff putting right an incorrect entry on Wikipedia".
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. 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.
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 Conservatives dismissed this phenomenon as a short-term "Brown bounce", Labour's poll ratings continued to grow steadily at Cameron's expense: an ICM poll 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 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 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.
On 6 October, Gordon Brown declared he would not call an election for Autumn 2007 despite weeks of speculation. This reversal was the start of a 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 scandals centred on political donations ("Donorgate") involving David Abrahams, Harriet Harman and Peter Hain. During November a series of polls showed improved support for the Conservatives so that on 2 December, an ICM poll gave the Conservatives an 11 point lead over Labour (41% to 30%). This lead decreased in 2008 during the Second Reading of the Bill ratifying the Treaty of Lisbon; on 26 January a poll found Conservative support had fallen three points to 37%, only two points ahead of Labour, which was up one point at 35%, the highest since October 2007. By March 2008, following Chancellor Alistair Darling's release of the annual Budget, a YouGov survey on behalf of The Sunday Times reported that Conservatives had their largest lead in opinion polls since October 1987 with a 16 point lead over Labour (43% to 27%). In May 2008, following the worst local election performance from the labour party in 40 years , a YouGov survey on behalf of The Sun showed the Conservatives' lead had increased to 26 points (49% to 23%), its largest lead since 1968, with Labour support at its lowest ever. In December 2008, a ComRes showed the Conservatives' lead had decreased to 1 point (37% to 36%), though by February it rose to around 12 points.
Cameron married Samantha Sheffield, the daughter of Sir Reginald Sheffield, 8th Baronet and Annabel Jones (now the 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. The Camerons had three children. Their first child, Ivan Reginald Ian, was born on 8 April 2002 in Hammersmith and Fulham, London. He was born with a rare combination of cerebral palsy and a form of severe epilepsy called Ohtahara syndrome, requiring round-the-clock care. 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!" Ivan died at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London, in the early hours of 25 February 2009.
The Camerons also have a daughter, Nancy Gwen B. (born 19 January 2004, Westminster, London), and another son, Arthur Elwen (born 14 February 2006, Westminster). Cameron took paternity leave when his second son was born, and this decision received broad coverage.
A Daily Mail article from June 2007 quoted Sunday Times Rich List compiler Philip Beresford, who had valued the Conservative leader for the first time, as saying: "I put the combined family wealth of David and Samantha Cameron at £30m plus. Both sides of the family are extremely wealthy. They certainly have no need to worry about poverty or paying school fees."
In early May 2008, David Cameron decided to enrol his daughter Nancy at a state school. She will attend St Mary Abbots Church of England School in Kensington. The Camerons had been attending its church, which is near to the Cameron family home in North Kensington, for three years.
David Cameron supports Aston Villa Football Club.
Mr David Cameron (1966–2001)
Mr David Cameron MP (2001–2005)
The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP (2005–)