David Cameron has announced that he will shortly be resigning his comfy Oxfordshire safe seat, Witney.
Some readers may have trouble remembering who, exactly, this sleek, flush-faced back bench Tory MP is. So let me remind you: he was until really quite recently Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and First Lord of the Treasury.
When he stepped down as Prime Minister after losing the Brexit vote, most commentators on the right found kind things to say about him. But this time, they’re not even going to bother trying.
Here’s the normally polite Fraser Nelson in the Spectator:
Is David Cameron trying to trash his own reputation? First came the worst resignation honours list for decades, which seemed designed to confirm everyone’s worst fears about his chumocracy. And today, he has handed a gift to those who denounced him as a career politician, someone with no sense of public service, whose interest in politics ran out when he thought it could no longer be useful to him. “Brits don’t quit,” he told us a few months ago: now he has quit, twice. After telling us several times that he’d stay, to fulfil a duty to parliament and his constituents. Even Gordon Brown fought another election after leaving No10 but Cameron has bolted, saying he has now decided that he’d be a “distraction”. His critics will argue the real “distraction” is that which parliament poses to a career on the Kazakhstani advisory circuit.
Nelson sounds surprised by how disappointed he is with Cameron. I think that will go for a lot of conservative pundits who – as conservatives generally do when there’s a conservative in power – sought continually to put a positive gloss on Cameron’s period as prime minister. Reading their commentary was a bit like watching the parents of a pale, weedy child on sports day cheering madly as he finally crossed the line in the egg and spoon race. To hear their enthusiasm you’d think he was the Victor Ludorum.
The best thing about David Cameron as Prime Minister was his plausible manner. He looked and acted a much more convincing Prime Minister than Gordon Brown or John Major or even Tony Blair did, speaking with a reassuringly patrician accent and looking properly pukka in well-cut but not spivvy or ostentatious suits. If a Third World War had broken out, he would have been the perfect chap to appear on our screens telling us to Keep Calm and Carry On.
But that war never did break out, unfortunately for his legacy, so instead all he’s going to be remembered for is as the man who tried to fob off the British people with EU membership renegotiation terms so risibly crap that they rose up en masse to tell him exactly where he could shove his treaty.
Imagine how different it would have been if he’d campaigned for Brexit. He would now be being celebrated as a Prime Minister to rank with Thatcher and Churchill.
Instead – true to his promise that he was going to be the Heir to Blair – he’ll be joining his fellow spiv Tony on the international speech circuit, no doubt running some kind of spurious lobbying organisation and being feted by foreign dignitaries in return for wheelbarrows of cash.
He’ll be good at that – being plummy, rich, pampered and applauded in a way that he never really was back home.