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".
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 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.
However, in mid October 2007, the Conservatives again overtook Labour in the
polls, after Brown was seen to be indecisive over calling an election.
David Cameron was born in London, but brought up at Peasemore, near
Newbury, in the English county of Berkshire,
the son of stockbroker Ian Donald Cameron and Mary Fleur Mount the second
daughter of Sir William Malcolm Mount, 2nd Baronet.
His father was born at Blairmore House near Huntly, Aberdeenshire,
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
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) 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 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.
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 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.
Cameron was educated at Eton College, a prestigious English public
his elder brother Alex who was three years above him;
where 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 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
he has taught, whose political views were "moderate and sensible
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 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.
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
He also belonged to the Octagon Club,
another dining society. Cameron graduated in 1988 with a first class honours
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.
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!"
The Camerons also have a daughter, Nancy Gwendoline
(born 19 January 2004), and another son, Arthur Elwen (born 14 February
took paternity leave when his second son was born, and this decision
received broad coverage.
However, Cameron has been urged by a Telegraph commentator to mention
his family less in public.
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 biweekly 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. 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 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.
Leadership of the Conservative Party
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
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.
Allegations of 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
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." 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.
A 2007 book revealed his Eton punishment for cannabis use and claims
Cameron continued to smoke the drug while studying at Oxford.
According to friends he described his school experience as a "wake-up call".
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
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 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
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 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
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".
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
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".
Criticism of other parties and politicians
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 also criticised the remarks,
as did the The Daily Telegraph.
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".
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 Mayor of London, as an "ageing
far left politician" in reference to Livingstone's views on
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".
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.New Statesman has unfavourably likened his "new style of politics" to
Tony Blair's early leadership years.
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. 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 Mail on Sunday column.
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".
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
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.
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".
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."
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
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".
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