The premiership of David Cameron has seen a lot of firsts. History will smile on Cameron as the Prime Minister who launched a series of liberal reforms to rival many of his contemporaries; history will also remember him as the safe hand on the rudder who stabilised the British economy following one of the worst recessions ever. In his six years as Prime Minister, Cameron led the first coalition in post-WWII Britain and he delivered the first Conservative majority government since 1992. While in the short term memory Mr Cameron will be remembered as the PM who lost the EU referendum, let’s have a look at his real legacy.
A major part of David Cameron’s legacy will be the stability he brought to politics during his six years at the helm. In May 2010 the country was thrust into new territory and political uncertainty – with no party remotely close to holding a majority. The fact that the Coalition Government (2010-2015) was such a remarkable success shows us acutely one of Mr Cameron’s major strengths: his ability to unify diverse political ideas into a coherent policy platform. It also showed his unique diplomacy and willingness to compromise – although credit in equal measure is owed to Nick Clegg.
As Prime Minister, Cameron put direct democracy back into the mainstream. The AV Referendum of 2011 gave the entire country the chance to choose our electoral system for the first time in our history. In 2014 he gave the Scottish people the opportunity to decide on their collective destiny in an independence referendum. The referendum of 2016 may have seen the end of his premiership, but the simple fact is that his leadership saw the British people given the chance to answer the European question for the first time since 1975, and throughout his premiership he promoted direct democracy.
Cameron’s Britain will be remembered as one which underwent massive economic recovery. The economy in 2016 does not remotely resemble the economy he inherited in 2010. Unemployment is down, the deficit is down, and there are more businesses. The economy is strong enough to commit 0.7% of National Income to foreign aid spending – enabling vital projects in other countries. Economic reforms have enabled Cameron to lift some of the poorest people in our country out of the tax bracket, and reforms to introduce a national living wage have seen the lowest paid in society receive a pay increase.
In his liberalising reforms, however, we see David Cameron’s true legacy. Every time a same-sex couple celebrates their love for one another in a marriage ceremony – that is David Cameron’s legacy. Equality before the law, regardless of your sexuality – that is David Cameron’s legacy. When a young student chooses to go into an apprenticeship rather than university – that choice and ability to pursue vocational opportunities is David Cameron’s legacy. Every school that is free to set its own curriculum and is empowered to act in the best interests of its students – that is David Cameron’s legacy. Every extra pound in the pockets of the poorest, from tax cuts, the living wage and reduced government waste – that is David Cameron’s legacy.
Under David Cameron our schools have improved, our justice system has become fairer, our economy has become stronger. During David Cameron’s premiership our universities have become more self-sufficient, our government has become less wasteful, our government deficit has halved. As Prime Minister, David Cameron oversaw reforms to make our country more secure, to give our people more of a voice, and to make our poorest richer.
David Cameron leaves office with a legacy to be proud of. History will certainly remember him with fondness. His legacy is a Britain which is richer, which is stronger, and which is fairer.