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How the mighty have fallen! It has been an annus horribilis for Rex Cameron. He has now joined George Gideon Osborne on the illustrious but very short list of public figures booed at world famous sporting events. The Wimbledon crowd, not appeased by the bread and circuses of Murray’s victory, raucously booed Cameron.
We did not know it at the time but the beginning of the end came with the farcical Piggate at the fag end of last summer. Then came Panamagate. Not only did Cameron benefit from offshore funds, which avoided paying UK tax for 30 years. More critically, he was accused of misleading the public about his financial arrangements. Serious questions about his fitness to hold public office as Prime Minister were raised. The mask of Flashman had slipped revealing him as an aristocratic member of the establishment on an unassailable trajectory from Eton to Oxford to Downing Street.
His Teflon/Titanium tendencies served him well until Brexitgate, which finally did it for him. A year on from the supposedly triumphant Conservative victory, Cameron will be remembered for one thing – Britain exiting the EU. His legacy will depend on how the Brexit fall-out plays out. If it turns out well then this may salvage his reputation. If not, then like Blair over Iraq, he will become radioactively toxic.
The Conservatives are desperately trying to put a favourable gloss on his Prime Ministership. But the Cameroonista project to detoxify the nasty party was never anything other than PR – likely picked up from his days at Carlton. Such slogans as the Conservatives being the party for working people have been unveiled without any hint of irony.
It is almost as if the last six years had never happened. As if we had got into a time capsule with Dave and gone back to the zeros when he made all those absurd statements about the NHS safe in our hands, hugging a hoodie, sledging with huskies and compassionate conservatism.
The reality is that Cameron has presided over six years of the largest postwar public spending cuts. Austerity was built on the false premise of translating a banking crisis into a public spending crisis. Cameron has accelerated the privatisation of the NHS, the dismantling of the welfare state and the siphoning of wealth to the top.
So what is Cameron’s legacy? The Red Cross has returned to the UK and stepped in with nationwide food aid for the first time since WWII. 1 million people are using food banks. More people are below the poverty line in work than out of work. Over 5 million are in low paid jobs (work does not pay!). Child poverty is skyrocketing. Threadbare councils are at breaking point; unable to deliver anything beyond a skeleton service. The Open Public Services document, at the heart of the Conservative project, envisages no limit to the privatisation of UK PLC from the NHS to children’s services and probation.
The cuts have been front-loaded – £35 bn so far with £55bn to come. This will take us back to 1930s levels of spending. It will mean membership of an elite club of European countries whose public spending (as a percentage of GDP) is below 40 %, including Estonia, the Slovak Republic and Ireland.
Ultimately, Cameron’s legacy has been to leave the nation divided with the break-up of the UK a distinct possibility and with people turning on one another – against benefit claimants, the disabled and migrants.
So what will Dave do in early retirement at the age of 49? No doubt he can join the lucrative lecture circuit and the board of J P Morgan. He could set up a bespoke advisory service for Central Asian dictators. Actually that niche in the market has already been taken. Rumour has it that his predecessor Gordon Brown was so crushed by his failed prime-ministership that he has retreated from the limelight into a hermetic existence. Maybe this is the fate that awaits Dave. Although it is hard to imagine those apple-faced, puffed-up cheeks looking dour or those plum tones sounding too down in the dumps. Perhaps he could set up a charitable foundation to save Gordon and rehabilitate him back into public life. Now that sounds like a worthy cause.
How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps published by Zero books – http://www.zero-books.net/books/how-dismantle-nhs-10-easy-steps
Twitter handle @ElGingihy