A Charmed Life: David Cameron, the fast-tracked Teflon Tory (Part Two)

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest outside Downing Street in Whitehall, central London, Britain April 9, 2016. © Neil Hall
It’s questionable now whether David Cameron will be able to survive 2016 as prime minister. The crushing combination of the #PanamaPapers and the UK Brexit referendum may well be enough to pulverize ‘Teflon Tory’ and bury him.

In Part One of ‘A Charmed Life’, I explained how David Cameron, a man born into great wealth and privilege, had been fast-tracked to power by influential neocons. After just four years as an MP he was anointed as Tory party leader, even though his rivals had much stronger credentials and greater public appeal.  

Since his elevation ‘Call Me Dave’ has certainly not let his backers down! His governments, under the pretext of ‘austerity’, have cut welfare payments and social services and helped the one percent become even richer. The top rate of income tax was cut and corporation tax has also been slashed. 

Remaining publicly owned assets have been privatized, or have been earmarked for privatization with rich City insiders and party donors benefiting. In 2013, the Royal Mail, in state hands since its inception in the 16th century, was privatized, with a hedge fund whose co-head of development strategy was the best man at Chancellor’s George Osborne’s wedding, netting a profit of £36m.   

The government now plans to sell the Land Registry - in public hands since the days of Queen Victoria.

In foreign policy, Cameron continued where Bomber Blair left off. In the same way that Tony Blair helped destroy Iraq, ‘Tory Blair’ helped wreck Libya. A country that had the highest living standards in Africa was transformed, thanks to NATO’s ’humanitarian intervention’, into a failed state and a haven for radical jihadists and terrorists.

Cameron and his governments also played a very negative and destructive role in relation to Syria, enthusiastically supporting ‘regime change‘ and championing the cause of violent jihadists and terrorists - euphemistically labeled ‘rebels’- who were fighting to overthrow a secular government implacably opposed to Al-Qaeda and its affiliates. 

In 2013, Cameron, faithfully serving neocon interests, tried desperately to get Parliament to support airstrikes on Syrian government targets. Thankfully, that was defeated. Had it not been, then it’s likely that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Qaeda affiliates would now be in charge of the whole of Syria.
If ever a British Prime Minister deserved to lose a General Election it was David Cameron in 2015. ‘Call Me Dave’ had presided over the longest fall in living standards in the country for 50 years.

His government had pledged to improve public finances, but in fact had made them worse: the UK’s debt increased by 50 percent under Cameron‘s watch.

Furthermore, Cameron’s foreign policy has undoubtedly made the world a much more dangerous place.

However, helped once again by a very friendly media, and in particular the Murdoch press - which thought it of the utmost importance that we saw a photo of Labour leader Ed Miliband eating a bacon sarnie on the front page of The Sun, Cameron scraped home in last year‘s election.

As I noted in an RT op-edge about the election campaign: “There was little, if any, proper discussion of the Conservatives’ many failures in office… If there had been proper media coverage of the way Tories have sold off public assets to their City chums, and the future privatizations Cameron and Co have planned (Chancellor George Osborne has pledged to sell off £20 billion more of state assets by 2020), then the Tories would not get anywhere near the amount of seats they did.”

It's clear that Cameron was chosen, from quite early on as the best 'front man' for taking the neocon project on to the next stage. The question now is: will those who helped put Cameron into power - and who did everything they could to help him stay in 10 Downing Street during the 2015 General Election campaign, continue to support him?

Up to now Cameron has been the ‘Teflon Tory’ - the man against whom no charge seems to stick. While Tony Blair is rightly reviled for what he did to Iraq, Cameron has largely escaped censure for his role in the destruction of Libya. Even allegations of Cameron taking part in a weird initiation ceremony involving the head of a dead pig at Oxford didn’t do too much harm to his ratings.

The #PanamaPapers leaks, however, could be a game changer. In Parliament last week, Cameron tried to draw a line under the revelations by making a Commons statement. Toadying Tory MPs stood up to declare that The Great Leader had done nothing wrong. One MP, the very wealthy oil trader Sir Alan Duncan, tried to make out the outrage over the Panama Papers was due to envy over people’s wealth - and made a snobbish reference to ‘low-achievers’. 

The smug, self-congratulatory mood was splendidly punctured by veteran left-wing Labour MP Dennis Skinner, who dubbed the prime minister ‘Dodgy Dave‘.

Shortly afterwards, I sent out a tweet saying that Skinner was a ‘National Treasure’ and asked people to retweet my message if they agreed with it. At the time of writing the tweet has been retweeted almost 6,000 times and liked over 3,000 times.

The tweet, I note, has got more endorsement than any from establishment gatekeepers and members of the elite punditocracy, who were keen to label Skinner as ‘rude’ for having the temerity to voice the views of millions of ordinary Britons.

It’s not just on social media that members of the public are making their voices heard. A poll in the Daily Mirror newspaper asked readers if they thought Skinner should have been thrown out of the Commons for his ‘Dodgy Dave’ remark: 95 percent voted ‘No’.

The Mirror is a Labour supporting publication, so perhaps you’d expect such a result. But another poll in the Daily Express - which does not support Labour - showed that 83 percent of readers thought Cameron should resign over the Panama Papers scandal. 

A few days ago, Cameron was overtaken by Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn in approval ratings for the first time, with almost 60 percent of people saying that he’s doing badly as PM. 

‘Call Me Dave’ and his Chancellor George Osborne are now the least trusted politicians on tax avoidance. Meanwhile, over 160,000 people have signed a petition calling for a snap general election.  

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron © Stefan Wermuth

The neocons who backed Cameron in 2005 are divided over Europe, which also doesn’t help the PM’s cause. Michael Gove, who helped mastermind Cameron’s campaign in 2005, is one of six Cabinet ministers campaigning for Britain to leave the EU in a referendum that Cameron - given the dip in his ratings – could easily lose. Even if the ‘Remain’ side does sneak home narrowly, Cameron would still be very vulnerable.

We know just how ruthless the Conservative Party can be when they feel they’ve got a leader who's gone past their sell-by date: even the fact that she had won three general elections wasn’t enough to save Mrs. Thatcher in 1990. 

Cameron has already declared he won’t serve a third term as prime minister, but it must now be doubtful that he will even be able to survive 2016. Whether it’s the #PanamaPapers or the EU referendum in June which finishes him, the dream ride for the ‘Teflon Tory’ has almost certainly come to an end. About time, too!

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.