Socialist Worker

Eton mess David Cameron’s reign of error has left the Tories weaker than ever

The EU referendum was meant to reunite the split Conservatives and save their leader’s bacon. Too bad for them it did the opposite, writes Simon Basketter

Issue No. 2510

David Cameron announcing his resignation on Friday of last week

David Cameron announcing his resignation on Friday of last week (Pic: Flickr/Number 10)


The British political establishment is in chaos—and the Tory civil war over the European Union (EU) referendum is escalating.

The first choice party of British capitalism is so deeply split it cannot guarantee it can implement any policy.

In the referendum, prime minister David Cameron told people that to vote one way would keep him in office. It is little wonder many voted the other way to get him out.

He has resigned and is a lame duck for a few months while the Tories vomit up a new leader.

Cameron is the third Tory prime minster forced out because of splits over Europe. They were instrumental in the fall of both Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

Last Friday Cameron walked to the podium outside 10 Downing Street and announced, voice breaking, that he was resigning.

This opened up what promises to be a vicious battle to succeed him after six years in office and just over a year after he won an election.

Cameron was set to attend an EU summit in Brussels this week, though for what purpose was unclear.

Worker holds placard reading hes got to go

And now Cameron is going (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Before resigning Cameron apparently said, “Why should I do all the hard shit only to hand over to someone else.”

Boris Johnson watched and said, “Oh God. Poor Dave. Jesus.”

Part of the paralysis after the result is an indication of the scale of the shock to the system the Leave vote is.

It took Johnson a few hours to emerge to booing cyclists who banged on the roof of his car, shouting “scum”.The reason was that he had only written a concession speech to get himself a place in the cabinet after a Remain vote.

He then had to write a speech urging Cameron to stay on.

The referendum was supposed to resolve the divisions over Europe in the Tories. Instead it has cemented them.

The decades-deep divisions over Europe penetrate deep into the Conservative Party.

Real tensions in Britain’s economic relationship with Europe provided ready fuel for Tory rows.

In 2005, running out of ideas, they plumped for a posho rebranding. The party chose David Cameron—hoping for a charismatic leader who could lead them out of their quagmire.

Cameron fused the character of the nasty Tory cutter, with a nod towards being a younger, progressive leader. But he was a conventional Tory.

The dabbling in hugging the environment and poor people was short lived.

For the Tories, the prospect of returning to office was enough to calm their divisions—for a while. But after having whipped up racism and austerity Cameron was worried at the growth of Ukip to his right.

He offered the referendum to the Tories to hold them together. He presumed he would win easily.

The long term impact of that will be to drive wedges of division deeper into the heart of the Tories.

That is his legacy.


His two silver spoons failed to cut the mustard

Preposterously posh Eton College

Preposterously posh Eton College (Pic: Wikimedia Commons/Martin Craft)


It is said that class always comes through. And all along that was David Cameron’s problem.

Shortly before he became prime minister, Cameron was asked by a friend whether he felt up to the job. With the arrogance that became his trademark he replied, “How hard can it be?”

It was certainly a job he was born to. On Cameron’s own account he was born with “two silver spoons” in his mouth.

Cameron is King William IV’s great-great-great-great-great grandson, which makes him fifth cousin, twice removed, to the queen.

Cameron’s father, Ian, and grandfather, Ewen Donald, were both Eton-educated senior partners at stockbrokers Panmure Gordon. Ian ran tax dodging scams for people even richer than himself.

Cameron, like Boris Johnson, went to the preposterous Eton school—current fees £32,000 per year—where the rich learn to bully and rule, and then inevitably on to Oxford and its drinking clubs.

For one Old Etonian to succeed another as prime minister does begin to smack of an old school tie stitch-up.

Cameron is the 19th Old Etonian prime minister. Another seven former prime ministers went to Harrow, and six to Westminster.

The biggest fear Cameron’s circle had was his entitlement and wealth.

After the phone hacking scandal freaked the establishment, Cameron was able to get the scandal mired in the Leveson Inquiry.

Even then reports of country suppers and rides with Rebekah Brooks brought diversionary lols. He did manage to claim memory loss at least 57 times when he gave evidence to the inquest.

Reports of him having sex with a dead pig at a posh party didn’t get rid of him, but it has all added up.

But the haughty arrogance was symbolic of how the Tories think of us and it was that arrogance that has got rid of him.


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