Following in the footsteps of Tony Blair, David Cameron has made a mockery of British democracy by resigning as an MP straight after resigning his premiership.
Demonstrably, the real reason he’s stepped down is so his financial activities are not on public record. Through the connections he made as Prime Minister, he can now make a fortune free from public scrutiny.
Speaking about why he resigned as MP for Witney, Cameron claimed:
It isn’t really possible to be a proper backbench MP as a former Prime Minister. Everything you do becomes a big distraction and diversion from what the government needs to do for our country.
But the actions of numerous other former prime ministers appear to be completely at odds with Cameron’s claim. Winston Churchill served as an MP until a year before his death, nine years after his premiership. And after resigning as Prime Minister in 1976, Harold Wilson stood down as an MP seven years later.
Many former prime ministers continue to serve as peers. But Cameron’s comment that he’s looking forward to a “life outside Westminster” appears to suggest that he’s not looking for a seat in the House of Lords. If he did, his financial activities would be on public record, as they would if he continued as an MP.
In the media, there has been much speculation that he resigned because he disapproves of Theresa May’s policy direction. The Daily Mail reports that Cameron quit because of a “clash with Theresa May over grammar schools”. Cameron opposed the creation of new grammar schools throughout his premiership, but he supported the expansion of existing ones.
Stepping backwards, May’s core economic policy is the same as Cameron’s, Thatcher’s and Blair’s: cut public spending and privatise public services. At her first Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), May signified her commitment to ideological austerity by calling divestment in people and institutions “living within our means”. May’s government is rearranging the linen but serving up the same meal on the same table: creeping privatisation and cuts. There’s no valid reason Cameron could not serve under such a government.
A legacy of neoliberalism (the economic theory of privatisation, reduced government spending and deregulation of the financial sector) is not the only one Cameron shares with Thatcher and Blair. After her premiership, Thatcher charged tens of thousands for speeches and reportedly earned $250,000 per year as a “geopolitical consultant” for a tobacco firm. Meanwhile, Blair made an eye-watering fortune from his premiership. As Peter Oborne writes:
For instance, when he was PM, Blair seemed to refuse to countenance any decision which might affront the United States. Since leaving office, he has made millions out of grateful U.S. connections.
He also delighted the Kuwaitis by getting rid of their deadly enemy, Saddam Hussein. Once he left No 10, a multi-million-dollar contract soon came Blair’s way from those very Kuwaitis.
Cameron’s own legacy of corruption is already established and aligns with the position that, like Blair, he has quit to make a fortune free from public scrutiny.
The former Prime Minister admitted that he had profited from his father’s offshore firm registered in Panama after personally fighting to keep tax dodging alive in the EU. He had sold his shares in the business before becoming Prime Minister in order to wipe his financial records clean, calling tax avoidance “disingenuous and hypocritical”.
Cameron also stands accused of winning the 2015 general election through systematic electoral fraud, including campaign overspending as a result of personalised letters from the former Prime Minister himself.
Most recently, Cameron doled out peerages to key figures in his own ‘Remain’ campaign, Tory donors and family friends.
Now, after pledging to remain an MP at least until 2020, Cameron has quit to reap the rewards of scratching the right backs for six years. He has already accepted temporary residency in a £16.8m London townhouse from a PR mogul. Meanwhile, he has been invited to Kazakhstan by dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev for EXPO 2017. Like Blair before him, this may be to woo him into a lucrative appointment.
As soon as parliamentary recess was over, Cameron resigned as an MP in order to milk the connections he made as Prime Minister. No longer a public figure, Cameron can make serious money free from public scrutiny but at the expense of democracy.
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