So David Cameron wants to get back into politics – “SECOND CAMING” in the words of the Sun headline, always helpful to an old friend. He “fancies” the job of foreign secretary, so recently vacated by his Old Etonian semi-friend Boris Johnson. Apparently our former prime minister is getting a bit bored cooped up in his £25,000 shed, putting the final touches to his memoirs. They should make interesting reading, seeing as he was the worst prime minister since Neville Chamberlain – complacent, entitled, and, at the end, totally lacking in judgment.
So, maybe not so ideally qualified to be her Britannic majesty’s secretary of state for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Remember his EU-UK membership “renegotiation”? The one that was supposed to deliver such an improved deal for the UK that the subsequent referendum would be a cake walk, another notch on Cameron’s progress towards being the man who rebuilt the Conservative Party’s reputation as the natural party of government. Except, as we all know, it didn’t quite have such a happy ending, did it?
Cameron being at a loose end these days – not that surprising considering – is one of the consequences of the cult of youth that overtook politics for a while. “Cam” is still only 52 – a young man by political standards when you consider that, famously, Winston Churchill was 80 by the time he was finally pushed into retirement, and Margaret Thatcher hadn’t quite made it to No 10 when she was the age Cameron is now. Tony Blair has his Foundation and, until recently, a job as peace envoy in the Middle East (only a man of Blair’s chutzpah could get away with that). George Osborne, another casualty of the 2016 referendum debacle, is forging a career in journalism (nothing wrong with that). Nick Clegg is a PR flunky for Facebook, of all people (maybe they should call it two-faced book instead). And so it goes: young men in a hurry, all of them.
There are precedents for Cameron’s return. Sir Alec Douglas-Home is one: Tory prime minister for a year in 1963-64; lost the general election, narrowly, then returned as foreign secretary for 1970 to 1974 when Ted Heath was PM. Chamberlain and Ramsay MacDonald were two other premiers who had brief post-premiership careers in cabinet. But it is an unusual step, and it is difficult to see either the European dignitaries Cameron would have to deal with or the Tory party he walked away from after the referendum defeat really taking him that seriously. I think he’d make a pig’s ear of it.
I’ve rather more sympathy for Amber Rudd’s desire to get back into the font line. The front bench isn’t groaning with talent, and the government desperately needs someone who is competent, and, to borrow a phrase, stable and secure. She should not have been so badly served by her department and, in particular, the immigration enforcement service. She was once thought of as a successor to Cameron and May, and she looks like she may be a contender again before long. I can’t imagine she’d want Cameron hanging around like a stale guff.
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