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. Here’s our latest Coffee House shots podcast.
As James Forsyth says, this is bad for parliament – and means Cameron will have trouble establishing a legacy that is about more than Brexit and the miscalculations in the EU referendum. There’s talk about him moving to New York. He will probably have realised that making serious money for a foundation – as Clinton and Blair did – is pretty impossible while being subject to the parliamentary disclosure rules.
Cameron could have been known for so many achievements: record employment, schools revolution, lowering inequality, crime rates plunging, a majority won against the odds – how quickly all of that is forgotten, how quickly Cameron has been reduced to the bad guy whom Theresa May enjoys defining herself against. Blair’s behaviour after leaving No10 trashed the reputation of Blairism – and it seems the self-styled “heir to Blair” had one more tribute act left in him. Now there is pretty much no one to say that Cameron’s premiership wasn’t all bad. No one can be bothered to hang around and defend Cameron’s reputation. Not even Cameron.