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Politics Today

Cameron’s Last Day

todayJuly 13, 2016 15

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Ken Clarke who has been an MP for 46 years and Peter Lilley another senior backbencher summed up why. They suggested he had dominated PMQs more than any recent Prime Minister for three reasons. First he is a statesman, he had responded to questions with real wit, and had shown a real grasp of detail. He demonstrated that by answering detailed questions often without reference to his briefs, including those from Opposition MPs for which he had no prior briefing.

How will he be remembered? He would say his Government has turned the economy round from the state it was in when he came to office in 2010. The deficit they inherited had been reduced by two-thirds. There are now 2.5 million more people in work than in 2010 with 300,000 fewer people in relative poverty and 450,000 fewer children in workless households. They were real people, he said, not just statistics. 2.9 million apprenticeships had been created giving young people an alternative to higher education. The Government had also established the National Living Wage and taken those on low incomes out of the income tax altogether. Public expenditure had been cut to reduce the deficit but NHS funding had been increased by 10% and 0.7% of GDP is now allocated for overseas aid. This was only possible because we now had a strong economy.

Cameron brought his party back into Government after 13 years in Opposition. In 2010 his party did not have an absolute majority but he made the coalition with the Liberal Democrats work and last a full five years and in 2015 he led his party to win with a small majority. During the six years he had survived two referenda, on reform of the electoral system and on Scottish independence. His undoing was this year’s a third referendum on EU membership and he must take a share of the blame for the way the Government’s campaign to remain was handled. Critics will point to his failure to connect with Conservative right wing MPs who seemed to want Brexit at all costs. Similar criticisms could be addressed to the Labour Party’s leadership. Another weakness was a perception that he was a ‘toff’ who was out of touch with the conditions and aspirations of the poorest people. He sees himself as a ‘One Nation’ Conservative but his ‘Big Society’ vision was not followed through enough.

The policies of which Cameron is most proud are the equal marriage legislation and the Act that established the 0.7% aid budget. He was also praised for the statesman like way he responded to the Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings, the Srebrenica massacre and for securing the release of Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo. He is a serious parliamentarian and unlike many former PMs he intends to remain as a backbench MP for his Witney constituency.

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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