Posted November 14, 2023
By Sean Ring
Davos Recaptures London
I remember when then-Prime Minister and World Economic Forum member David Cameron called a referendum on the European Union and promised to carry out the will of whatever side won.
Well, the Brexiteers like myself won, and then Cameron threw his toys out of the pram and promptly resigned.
In British English, a “pram” is a baby carriage. So the idiom means “threw a tantrum.” And you wonder why I claim to be bilingual!
There are politicians like Henry Kissinger or the late John McCain whom I viscerally loathe. But losers like Cameron merely make me involuntarily roll my eyes or take a deep breath and look the other way.
So it was with a belly laugh that I learned current British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was so bereft of ideas he brought Cameron back - after seven years in the political wilderness - as his Foreign Secretary (the UK equivalent of Secretary of State).
As Cameron isn’t a serving Member of Parliament (MP), Sunak had to elevate him to the House of Lords as Lord Cameron. So now we’ve got an unelected Prime Minister appointing an unelected Foreign Secretary.
Not a good look.
First Things First
The first thing Sunak had to do was get rid of his troublesome Home Secretary, Suella Braverman. She dared to call things like they are.
From Zero Hedge:
In an op-ed in the Times of London newspaper - published ahead of a massive pro-Palestinian demonstration on Saturday, she called protesters "hate marchers" and criticized police for applying "double standards" in the way they manage protests.
"Right-wing and nationalist protestors who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response, yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behavior are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law. I have spoken to serving and former police officers who have noted this double standard," Braverman wrote.
As for Palestinian marches, she added: "We have seen with our own eyes that terrorists have been valorized, Israel has been demonized as Nazis, and Jews have been threatened with further massacres."
The Tory Right (the few genuine ones) was well pleased. But the Metropolitan centrists who occasionally pull the Conservative lever went nuts.
So Sunak moved Braverman out and replaced her with the now-former Foreign Secretary James Cleverley.
Then, at a secret meeting at Downing Street, Sunak asked Cameron if he’d like to return to front-line politics.
After seven years of retirement in all but name, Cameron said yes.
The Tories Are Desperate
Sunak and his crew are about to get smacked in the mouth at the upcoming general election, whenever that is.
Labour leader Keir Starmer, an empty husk of a politician, somehow leads Sunak. This is more due to Tory fatigue than anything the former prosecutor has offered.
The move for Cameron smacks of a last-ditch attempt to gain ground in the polls. But it may not work out that way.
From The Times of London:
One former cabinet minister said: “Today is a day when defeat went from a probability to a certainty. It’s a sign that the government has chosen its bed and it’s not where the majority of our voters are. It’s a more open and honest split in the Conservative Party now because any pretense of being a broad coalition has gone.”
Those close to Sunak reject this, saying he’s on the right of the Conservative Party on issues such as immigration.
Only the voters know.
Cameron’s International Controversies as Prime Minister
It’s not like Cameron covered himself in international glory as PM, either. Here is a partial list of his most significant international controversies:
Libya Intervention (2011): Cameron played a leading role in the international military intervention in Libya in 2011, which led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. The intervention was criticized for its aftermath, which saw Libya plunge into chaos and civil war. This is the main reason boats from northern Africa routinely cross the Med to Italy, Spain, and France. Cameron, along with former French President Nicholas Sarkozy and former US President Barack Obama, should’ve been tried at The Hague for this atrocity.
European Union and Brexit: One of the most defining aspects of Cameron's tenure was his stance on the European Union. He promised and conducted a referendum on the UK's membership in the EU, which resulted in a vote to leave (Brexit). The decision was controversial and sent shockwaves through international politics and economics. But the worst part was that he resigned when he didn’t get his way, leaving the way forward in complete disarray. Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and now Sunak have been his replacements. Arguably, we’re still not done with Brexit.
Scottish Independence Referendum (2014): Under Cameron's leadership, the UK government agreed to a referendum on Scottish independence. Scotland voted to remain in the UK, but the event heightened tensions and discussions about the future of the United Kingdom. If England, Wales, and Northern Ireland also had a say, the Scots would’ve been expelled like the Singaporeans from Malaysia in 1965.
Immigration Policies: Cameron's government faced criticism over its immigration policies, particularly in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis. His administration was accused of not doing enough to help refugees and for contributing to a hostile environment for immigrants in the UK. This was the correct policy, but a hypocrite carried it out. When Angela Merkel opened Germany’s border for the Syrian refugees, Cameron refused to do the same in England. But his mess in Libya predated the Syrian crisis.
Panama Papers (2016): Cameron personally came under scrutiny during the Panama Papers scandal in 2016, where it was revealed that he had benefited from an offshore trust set up by his late father. This raised questions about tax avoidance and transparency. I have no problem with tax avoidance and asset protection. But I’d prefer the politicians who set up bad tax policies not swerve them by keeping their money offshore.
But one of his immediate tests as Foreign Secretary, navigating the Israel-Hamas conflict, comes with his previous baggage.
Again, from The Times:
He has a mixed record on Israel.
In 2010, while on a visit to Turkey, he cozied up to the then-prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by saying: “Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.” A Hamas spokesman later called it “a positive attitude” and evidence of “an awakening conscience by the international community.”
But during a trip in March 2014, Cameron declared to the Israeli parliament that he was “a British prime minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable.”
A few months later, he threw the UK’s support behind Israel when it launched “Operation Protective Edge” a military operation in response to the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas-affiliated militants.
His resolve was tested during the conflict when Baroness Warsi resigned as a Foreign Office minister and described the government’s policy on Gaza as “morally indefensible.”
She also took issue with the UK’s decision not to recognize Palestinian statehood at the UN in 2012, saying it “placed us on the wrong side of history.”
Can he even back Israel as a Davos man?
This is a risk if there ever was one.
Bringing back a former prime minister to serve as foreign secretary is a novel idea to claim you’ve got “new ideas.”
If Cameron weren’t an incompetent administrator, I’d really like the guy. He’s smart, is married to a beautiful, successful woman, and has great kids.
But he’s made a staggering number of mistakes and has never been held to account for them.
Let’s hope he doesn’t make too many more in his new role.