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David Cameron

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(CC) Photo: Prime Minister's Office
David Cameron was Conservative Party leader from 2005 to 2016 and was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 2010 until July 2016.

David Cameron (born 9th October 1966) was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 2010 until July 2016, and leader of the Conservative Party from 2005 to 2016. Cameron's Conservative Party became the largest party in the 2010 general election but did not enough seats to form a majority government. The party formed a coalition with Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats in order to form a stable majority coalition.[1] In the 2015 United Kingdom general election the Conservatives won an outright majority and the Liberal Democrat ministers resigned to be replaced by Conservatives. On 24th June 2016, after losing the UK referendum on EU membership, he announced he would resign as Prime Minister within a few months. This was brought forward to 13th July after all but one candidate dropped out of the subsequent party leadership contest. Cameron stepped down as party leader on 11th July.[2]

As a Member of Parliament he represented the constituency of Witney in the House of Commons from May 2001 until September 2016; in 2005, on becoming Conservative leader. he took up the post of Leader of the Opposition. Cameron had previously been a researcher and special adviser for the party, and was Director of Communications for Carlton Communications for seven years. He is married with four children; his eldest son, Ivan, died in 2009.

Early life, career and family

Cameron was born in 1966 to Ian Cameron, a stockbroker, and Mary Cameron, a Justice of the Peace for 30 years. Before attending Eton, the top public school in Windsor, Cameron attended Heatherdown, an exclusive prep school. Having gotten three A's at A-level in history, history of art and economics with politics, Cameron headed for Oxford University to gain a first in politics, philosophy and economics ("PPE"). During a gap year before university, he worked for the Conservative MP Tim Rathbone. At university, he was - along with Conservative London mayor and former MP Boris Johnson - a member of the Bullingdon Club, an invitation-only exclusive dining club which was satirised by Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead Revisited and Decline and Fall.[3]

Cameron is married to Samantha Cameron and they have three children - Nancy, Arthur and Florence. The Camerons also had a son, Ivan, who died at age six from cerebral palsy in February of 2009. This tragic death has been said by some commentators to have helped Cameron's image, making him more human and less "toff".[4]

Leader of the Conservative Party, 2005-2016

In 2005, Michael Howard, the Home Secretary under John Major, ran against Tony Blair's Labour Party on the Conservative ticket but lost. Following this defeat, he resigned as leader of the Conservative Party and made way for a lengthy leadership contest. [5] Cameron was involved in formulating the 2005 Conservative manifesto.

Cameron was elected as the leader of the Conservative Party against David Davis, a more traditional Conservative candidate but with a strong civil libertarian streak, as well as Ken Clarke and Liam Fox. Cameron rejected a number of standard Conservative policies: he stated that he was for the then recently introduced same-sex civil partnerships and started talking up his support for green policies on climate change, recycling and the environment. The slogan "vote blue, go green" was used by the party to highlight this new position on climate change. Similarly, Cameron has tried to get the support of the gay community - not supportive of Conservatives especially since the passing of Section 28 during the Thatcher years - meeting with Peter Tatchell, giving interviews to gay magazines, pledging support for anti-homophobia campaigns and selecting a number of openly gay candidates.[6][7]

Cameron coalition government, 2010–2015

(CC) Photo: Prime Minister's Office
David Cameron pictured with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg shortly after taking office in May 2010.

See also: Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government (2010)

Cameron failed to win a working majority in the 2010 UK general election, and thus the automatic right to form a government, but was able to establish a formal coalition with the Liberal Democrats, the third-placed party in Parliament. Cameron appointed its leader Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister.

The coalition agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats committed the two parties to work together on a number of measures including deficit reduction, banking and financial sector reform, 'free schools' and academies reform, a "Freedom Bill" to reverse purported erosions of civil liberties and environmental reforms. The agreement also included a number of areas where Liberal Democrats were allowed to abstain: the building of new nuclear power plants, for instance. The process works by allowing a Liberal Democrat spokesmen to make a statement against a particular policy, and then Liberal Democrat MPs abstaining from the vote. In the case of the referendum on the Alternative Vote system - which the Liberal Democrats are for and the Conservatives are against - they both agreed to have the referendum, and the Conservatives campaigned against it and the Liberal Democrats for it; of course, the public got to choose in the end.[8]

Cameron majority government, 2015-2016

Cameron won an unexpected but narrow majority in the 2015 election, which allowed him to govern without the support of the Liberal Democrats. As a manifesto commitment obligated him to authorise a referendum on British membership of the European Union, Cameron set about renegotiating a new deal for UK membership prior to the vote on 23rd June 2016. However, 52% of the voting public rejected membership, leading Cameron to step down as Conservative leader and Prime Minister.[9] On 12th September 2016, he resigned as an MP, citing his presence in Parliament as a potention "distraction" for the new government.[10]

Footnotes

See also