In the week of Chilcot, we can at least observe that David Cameron didn’t cause an unnecessary Middle East invasion which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
But sending the country into chaos through the referendum, just to manage his own backbenchers and stave off a party with one MP, comes a close second to Tony Blair’s Iraq disaster. We were warned at the last election of chaos if Ed Miliband had won, supported by the SNP. But the UK under Ed Miliband would have looked like a summer holiday compared with the constitutional, economic, financial, foreign relations, social and global turmoil caused by David Cameron with the referendum. …And that just a year after an historic election victory when he swept all before him.
I think Radio Four’s Deadringers got it spot on, in their programme of June 24th. Their “David Cameron” gave a statement after the referendum results came in:
Good morning everyone. I fought this campaign as I always have done. I said what I wanted and then I assumed I would get it, just because I said that I wanted it. I have been absolutely clear in my belief that I am astute politician and a born leader. Because they always told me that I was at school. But I now realise that I am, in fact, one of the great asses of history. You see, I only agreed to this referendum because it never occurred to me that I might lose. That’s the sort of arrogant, entitled bell-end I really am.
David Cameron’s instincts in wanting a referendum were laudable, but wisdom failed him.
I would also add that David Cameron’s instincts in seeking, quite decisively, a coalition with the LibDems after 2010, were laudable also.
It is often estimated that the extreme pain of the grief of losing a loved one takes at least four years to pass over. After losing his son, Ivan, in traumatic circumstances in 2009, David Cameron fought a tough election and was then Prime Minister through those four years. To my mind, that must have taken super-human reserves of resilience to achieve. I take my hat off to him for that.
David Cameron is a decent and honourable man, and for 80% of the time he was a decent Prime Minister. But he will go down in history as a failed Prime Minister, alongside Eden (Suez) and Blair (Iraq).