David Cameron has left 10 Downing Street amidst economic turmoil, EU anger, social unrest…and it’s all of his own doing. To try and counter the Eurosceptic element of his party he called a referendum on EU Membership and lost…but he’d been Prime Minister for six years prior to that, and won his second term with a stronger electoral performance than his first term. So, what do people in the UK think of Cameron? Here, we round up three key elements of his rule, and look at how satisfied the people of the UK have been overall.
This has been the defining factor of Cameron’s rule, and his ultimate undoing. The closeness of the vote (52% – 48%) has caused widespread bitterness and tension from Remain voters, and economic turmoil that might just undo all his economic reputation prior to that. Many feel that this referendum shouldn’t have been called at all, but that Cameron tried to play politics with the UK and lost, badly. Whatever the result and what happens in the coming years, this has left a very bitter taste and deep level of dissatisfaction.
Economy, taxation and austerity
Before the crisis trigger by Brexit, the United Kingdom was seeing a strong economic recovery from the 2008 banking crisis. When Cameron entered government in 2010, the economy was in poor form, and he swiftly implemented a programme of cuts in public services in a bid to shrink Britain’s crushing government deficit. Generally, the UK people were satisfied with the good economic performance that seemed to be taking place.
However, the deep cuts caused a lot of tension in society. Public service cuts hit the poorest the hardest, and when Cameron introduced the so called “Bedroom Tax”, which reduced benefit if you lived in a council property deemed to have a spare room, created a lot of resentment.
Additionally, when Cameron was found to have benefited from his father’s tax avoidance, public confidence in him was further damaged. This looked like hypocrisy to many voters, as Cameron had cracked down on benefit fraud, and was seen to cut benefits while condoning not paying tax. His economic policy has been divisive, and satisfaction is split at best.
In 2011, at the height of the Arab Spring, David Cameron worked with the UK’s allies to create a no-fly zone above Libya, in an attempt to stop Gaddafi attacking rebels. At the time, this had a majority of the support of the British people. When Cameron tried to perform a similar move, but this time to engage in strikes in Syria, he was met with wide scale marches and protests against the action. But after the attacks in Paris, Cameron managed to get the motion through Parliament for the bombing campaign to begin. However, public opinion still holds against the attacks.
Cameron started with such hope, a former PR man, with general popularity replacing a government which had suffered a banking crisis. However, his policies have deeply divided the UK, and losing the EU Referendum will be seen as a devastating blow to some people for decades to come. Satisfaction ratings with Cameron started off very high, but by April 2016 he was already well behind the controversial Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Whether the UK’s population are satisfied with Cameron may take some time to really be seen – but the EU referendum will be one of the most divisive and unsatisfactory events in British politics.