Was David Cameron the worst UK Prime Minister in living memory?

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Personally, I feel like his only personal achievement was staying in office for quite a long time before slinking off to a lucrative future for himself. Now the rest of the country has to deal with the chaos of Britain leaving the European Union as a result of his miscalculated gesture in presenting the British public with a referendum in which many people were woefully unable to begin to calculate the consequences of leaving.

I also feel that due to his inept handling of Scotland and his wildly unpopular policies, I fear he helped push Scotland away and made it very easy for those who are in favour of Scottish Independence to construct a strong argument for leaving the United Kingdom.

When David Cameron entered Downing Street in 2010, he said that he wanted to see an economy where your standard of living 'rose steadily'. He promised to help working families with the rising cost of living. Unfortunately, we all know what's happened since. After inflation, working people in the South East are an average of 1368 pounds worse off a year since 2010, when David Cameron entered Downing Street.

Prices increased faster than wages in all but one month of his premiership. He presided over 36 months of falling real wages. No Prime Minister since records began comes close to this dubious record. And in the one month that wages rose faster than prices, it was because bank bonuses soared to take advantage of David Cameron's tax cut for millionaires. I don't believe it was all the global crisis because other countries who adopted a Keynesian approach did not suffer this.

You could argue that Gay Marriage and Auto Enrolment Pensions were achievements, but I'd argue that was pretty much entirely because the Lib Dems pushed him into those things under the coalition. And the Lib Dems had to concede far worse like raising tuition fees to extortionate levels. I don't class the raising of the Minimum Wage as an achievement as it was a PR tactic and didn't actually get close to the price of living.

I think if you were a fan of his economic policies (I wasn't) you could maybe picture Cameron as more of a competent manager than a leader. A bank might have put better use to his talents than the country could.

How would you all rate him?

So there are three other leaders that are easily either just as bad or worse than Cameron. I think its just safe to say Prime Ministers at the moment are just not up to the task and I don't see that changing with any of the current crop of politicians.

Bobular:

So there are three other leaders that are easily either just as bad or worse than Cameron. I think its just safe to say Prime Ministers at the moment are just not up to the task and I don't see that changing with any of the current crop of politicians.

I don't agree with any of those. You see, Cameron failed on his own terms. Gordon Brown just happened to be in power when the global crash happened so I don't think that's fair. A lot of that stuff against him was Tory spin. He actually did a lot of things to save the world's banks during the crash by going around the world leader's and advising them to adopt Keynesianism - and it worked for them. Tony Blair did a lot of good things in power (it's just people only remember the Iraq decision). But my arguments for that are in another thread I created. May is still Prime Minister but she's basically dealing with the mess Cameron left and can only focus on dealing with Brexit within her party and in the country. I don't like her, but she wouldn't be dealing with it at all if it wasn't for Cameron.

Cameron by contrast did nothing of any worth in power on his own terms. See my opening statement. I actually think Thatcher would have been a better example of someone I think was worse than the ones you named. But, while I HATED her policies, she was successful on her own terms. Cameron was not.

May is doing a pretty good job of trying to be more terrible.

Blair was just a terrible thing for his party, moving a left-wing party to the right, so horrible for anybody who supports old labour/labour under Corbyn.
Those folk don't belong in soc dem parties, same with Macron in France, Wim Kok in the Netherlands or whatever the fuck is wrong with the German SPD.

dscross:
snip

Anthony Eden would almost certainly be judged the worst British Prime Minister in living memory - albeit the living memory of OAPs. We think of Iraq as a clusterfuck; however despite Iraq having a greater human and financial cost, it's not a patch on the Suez crisis in terms of sheer national humiliation, loss of influence and prestige.

These things can however be tricky, as many prime ministers can be victims of circumstance rather than incompetence: in many ways, they are being judged on what happened during their time in office rather than their actual capabilities. For instance, John Major had only a marginal majority and thus a weak government, which caused him very significant problems irrespective of how good he was. Gordon Brown is always likely to be doomed to negative opinion because of the financial crash, even if it wasn't at all his fault. The other aspect of course is a nebulous aspect of popularity. Mediocre, poor or divisive leaders can be elevated to respect higher than they merit simply because people at the time liked them, and that sort of "aura" confuses analysis of how good a job they really did. Although of course "success" can often simply be defined as holding on to power, irrespective of how badly that power was exercised.

Personally, I think it's too soon really to judge anyone post-Blair, because there's too little knowledge of how their reigns ended up. However, I figure David Cameron will be judged harshly, especially if Brexit turns out badly.

* * *

I kind of liked both Major and Brown. Although both had substantial flaws, I think both were politicians of substance, with a deep and pragmatic sense of what was important and needed to be done for the good of the country. As in contrast to slippery lightweights "successful" for their ability to mobilise public support more than for good judgement in policy.

Cameron: PR front man installed to detoxify the Tory image; somehow thought he could invent the Big Society; appointed and maintained an idiot as Chancellor despite the economic damage he was doing; banged on about immigration despite not actually thinking it's a problem; tried to stop losing voters to UKIP with a referendum and fucked up.

Thatcher: hard capitalist who won leadership to impose her economic vision; somehow thought the Community Charge was a good idea; broke the trade unions, leaving no counter to employer power; lead de-industrialisation and did nothing about the economic devastation; centralised power and gutted local authorities; deregulated UK banking, eventually leading to the UK part of the financial crisis; created 'Right to Buy', wrecking social housing.

I'm going with Thatcher as worst UK Prime Minister in living memory.

dscross:
Personally, I feel like his only personal achievement was staying in office for quite a long time before slinking off to a lucrative future for himself. Now the rest of the country has to deal with the chaos of Britain leaving the European Union as a result of his miscalculated gesture in presenting the British public with a referendum in which many people were woefully unable to begin to calculate the consequences of leaving.

I also feel that due to his inept handling of Scotland and his wildly unpopular policies, I fear he helped push Scotland away and made it very easy for those who are in favour of Scottish Independence to construct a strong argument for leaving the United Kingdom.

When David Cameron entered Downing Street in 2010, he said that he wanted to see an economy where your standard of living 'rose steadily'. He promised to help working families with the rising cost of living. Unfortunately, we all know what's happened since. After inflation, working people in the South East are an average of 1368 pounds worse off a year since 2010, when David Cameron entered Downing Street.

Prices increased faster than wages in all but one month of his premiership. He presided over 36 months of falling real wages. No Prime Minister since records began comes close to this dubious record. And in the one month that wages rose faster than prices, it was because bank bonuses soared to take advantage of David Cameron's tax cut for millionaires. I don't believe it was all the global crisis because other countries who adopted a Keynesian approach did not suffer this.

You could argue that Gay Marriage and Auto Enrolment Pensions were achievements, but I'd argue that was pretty much entirely because the Lib Dems pushed him into those things under the coalition. And the Lib Dems had to concede far worse like raising tuition fees to extortionate levels. I don't class the raising of the Minimum Wage as an achievement as it was a PR tactic and didn't actually get close to the price of living.

I think if you were a fan of his economic policies (I wasn't) you could maybe picture Cameron as more of a competent manager than a leader. A bank might have put better use to his talents than the country could.

How would you all rate him?

Ha ha, what prompted this? :)

I quite liked the bloke, he kept Labour out of power repeatedly, which always saves the country from bankruptcy, union cronyism, benefit vote bribery and generally reckless borrowing and spending.

Gay Marriage was nothing to do with Lib Dems, Cameron faced down the idiots in the Conservative Party and always intended to do so. Auto enrolled pensions was just a "no brainer" though, it quite literally had to be done. The idea with tuition fees was that universities would regulate the cost based on the course quality, which was obviously a silly. I still think it's right adults should pay for their own education after being educated at taxpayer expense for 11+ years but they have got out of hand.

He took thousands out of tax altogether and his "wildly unpopular policies", saw him win a comfortably workable majority. It's funny how people conflate them not liking something with it being "wildly unpopular".

All in all, I get the feeling you've dismissed all his achievements and have honed in on some economic factors that support your argument.

In summary: Gordon Brown is the person you are looking for :)

Edit - oh the EU gamble was pretty reckless but that's in retrospect really, everyone predicted an comfortable Remain win. I guess he'll be remembered for it mind.

Even as someone who despises David Cameron, I don't think you could say he's the worst prime minister in living memory.

I will say this though. For much of his term, I worked for a small charity caring for mentally handicapped adults. What his government did to those people makes me think very dark thoughts. Even if I know "objectively" that Tony Blair was a bigger murderer, he didn't kill anyone I knew. Cameron did.

evilthecat:
Even as someone who despises David Cameron, I don't think you could say he's the worst prime minister in living memory.

I will say this though. For much of his term, I worked for a small charity caring for mentally handicapped adults. What his government did to those people makes me think very dark thoughts. Even if I know "objectively" that Tony Blair was a bigger murderer, he didn't kill anyone I knew. Cameron did.

What did they do?

evilthecat:
Even as someone who despises David Cameron, I don't think you could say he's the worst prime minister in living memory.

I will say this though. For much of his term, I worked for a small charity caring for mentally handicapped adults. What his government did to those people makes me think very dark thoughts. Even if I know "objectively" that Tony Blair was a bigger murderer, he didn't kill anyone I knew. Cameron did.

Well, as you know from a previous thread I did, Tony Blair did a lot of good things in power as well and I'm not sure what other leaders would have done in his position, but we can post in the Tony Blair thread for that debate I guess rather than here. Cameron, on his own terms, did nothing of any worth, in my opinion. You may hate Blair for your own reasons. But he achieved some huge things domestically that they wanted to achieve.

Further like you don't like Blair, I don't like Thatcher for destroying the trade unions and workers' rights. But even so, she achieved things she wanted to achieve.

You can't say that about Cameron.

Imsuppose the answer to this question depends on when your living memory starts.

ErrrorWayz:

I quite liked the bloke, he kept Labour out of power repeatedly, which always saves the country from bankruptcy, union cronyism, benefit vote bribery and generally reckless borrowing and spending.

I don't think keeping out a party you don't like is reason to rate him. I disagree with the whole premise of your disapproval of (New) Labour anyway. Spin. It you believe in Keynesianism, you don't believe that.

Gay Marriage was nothing to do with Lib Dems, Cameron faced down the idiots in the Conservative Party and always intended to do so.

I accept that he pushed it through against his own party, which should tell you something about the Tories in itself. But you can be sure that without the Liberal Democrats, the measure would not have made it even on to the Commons agenda, given the opposition from within Conservative ranks.

He took thousands out of tax altogether and his "wildly unpopular policies", saw him win a comfortably workable majority. It's funny how people conflate them not liking something with it being "wildly unpopular".

if you remember, that election result was largely born from a fear campaign from smearing Ed Miliband about his dad and the way he eats bacon sandwiches somehow affecting his ability as leader combined with instilling fear into middle Englanders about an SNP-Labour coalition, which wouldn't have happened anyway because Labour and the SNP hate each other. They also combined this with the 'Gordon Brown / Labour caused the crash' line - which I've addressed further down - treating the economy like savings instead of like a complex system.

Therefore, it was not Cameron's Britain that won him that election. Also, it was not a comfortable majority compared to Thatcher or Blair.

And in terms of popularity in SCOTLAND which is what my point was, you surely aren't going to argue that the Tories are popular in Scotland are you?

All in all, I get the feeling you've dismissed all his achievements and have honed in on some economic factors that support your argument.

This is what he sold himself on mainly - economic competency. It's was the main thing he said he set out to do

In summary: Gordon Brown is the person you are looking for :)

Brown was a victim of circumstance and people blamed him for the global crash. He did his best with the cards he was dealt and went around the world advising governments and went to the trouble of nationalising some of our banks in order to save them. Obama's economic policies at the time, which Brown helped with, are now paying dividends - it's just unfortunate that Trump is seeing some of the benefit now. I shudder to think what the Tories would have done in charge. You also need to consider that Brown's public image was partly because he wasn't very good with people or at PR and partly because the Tory press went after him hell for leather after Blair left. Blair had previously been over to see (and persuaded) Murdock and others (in 97) that they were on their side, in terms of being on businesses (and the media tycoons') side. Brown made no such promise and they instantly went after him. He was treated at least as badly as Ed Miliband.

Edit - oh the EU gamble was pretty reckless but that's in retrospect really, everyone predicted an comfortable Remain win. I guess he'll be remembered for it mind.

Agreed. But he shouldn't have done it in the first place. It was completely selfish party political decision.

Gordon_4:
Imsuppose the answer to this question depends on when your living memory starts.

Well, it's just a phrase...

You could take the average age of the population of Britain, which is 40.

Or you could take the average life expectancy at the moment, which is 79.4

Or you could take the the oldest woman in Britain - who is 115 years old. Take your pick.

dscross:

ErrrorWayz:

I quite liked the bloke, he kept Labour out of power repeatedly, which always saves the country from bankruptcy, union cronyism, benefit vote bribery and generally reckless borrowing and spending.

I don't think keeping out a party you don't like is reason to rate him. I disagree with the whole premise of that anyway. Spin.

I don't know, I think not having Labour in power is always a good thing. I certainly appreciated Cameron's ability to win an election. Labour do nothing but attack my standard of living to bribe their core vote. You may disagree.

Gay Marriage was nothing to do with Lib Dems, Cameron faced down the idiots in the Conservative Party and always intended to do so.

I accept that he pushed it through against his own party, which should tell you something about the Tories in itself, you can be sure that without the Liberal Democrats, the measure would not have made it even on to the Commons agenda, given the opposition from within Conservative ranks.[/quote]

Not true, Cameron had something of a road to Damascus conversion on gay marriage, switching his view around about 2008 and actively campaigning for within his party even prior to being made leader. He did oppose lesbian in vitro fertilisation rights though.

He took thousands out of tax altogether and his "wildly unpopular policies", saw him win a comfortably workable majority. It's funny how people conflate them not liking something with it being "wildly unpopular".

if you remember, that election result was largely born from a fear campaign from smearing Ed Miliband about his dad and the way he eats bacon sandwiches somehow affecting his ability as leader combined with instilling fear into middle Englanders about an SNP-Labour coalition if you remember, which wouldn't have happened anyway because Labour and the SNP hate each other. They also combined with the 'Gordon Brown caused the crash' lie - which I've addressed further down - treating the economy like savings instead of like a complex system.

Therefore, it was not Cameron's Britain that won him that election. Also, it was not a comfortable majority compared to Thatcher or Blair.[/quote]

Well yes, as I said below, if you dismiss all his achievements as lucky or unworthy then you will indeed come to the conclusion you prefer. I think lot of that election loss was down to triumphalism on the left as well, they became a bit heady with the idea of power. I am not really sure how much policy "wildly unpopular" or otherwise really swings elections, it's always about these knee jerk "big ideas", like an aggressive left wing coalition seizing control. The left has become very good at explaining away its losses with pseudo-conspiracy theories about media this and unfair tactic that. This means it doesn't have to examine the flaws in its message.

All in all, I get the feeling you've dismissed all his achievements and have honed in on some economic factors that support your argument.

This is what he sold himself mainly - economic competency. It's was the main thing he said he set out to do.[/quote]

And he achieved it, the deficit has been reduced. Out budget was in surplus in 2017. Horray!

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/george-osborne-deficit-reduction-target-budget-austerity-chancellor-coalition-a8234341.html

In summary: Gordon Brown is the person you are looking for :)

Brown was a victim of circumstance and people blamed him for the global crash. He did his best with the cards he was dealt and went around the world advising governments and went to the trouble of nationalising some of our banks in order to save them. Obama's economic policies at the time, which Brown helped with, are now paying dividends - it's just unfortunate that Trump is seeing the benefit now. I shudder to think what the Tories would have done in charge. You also need to consider that Brown's public imagine was partly because he wasn't very good with people or at PR and partly because the Tory press went after him hell for leather after Blair left. Blair had previously persuaded Murdock and others (in 97) that they were on their side, in terms of being on businesses (and the media tycoons') side. Brown made no such promise and they instantly went after him. He was treated at least as badly as Ed Miliband.

Ha ha, so poor Gordon was a victim but evil David was incompetent despite dealing with the very same economic factors? Brown sold off the gold at a historic low, he broke his own "golden rule", "over the economic cycle, we will borrow only to invest", and also destroyed private pensions by removing tax relief for good measure, to bribe teachers with a pre-election pay rise. He smeared his own voter as a bigot, he started in office with a debt of 322bn and left with it at 671.5bn, it had grown to 583bn.... before the crash! He was an appalling prime minister and a disingenuous person, ready to hang his ethics to save his doomed Premiership.

Edit - oh the EU gamble was pretty reckless but that's in retrospect really, everyone predicted an comfortable Remain win. I guess he'll be remembered for it mind.

Agreed.[/quote]

ErrrorWayz:

I don't know, I think not having Labour in power is always a good thing. I certainly appreciated Cameron's ability to win an election. Labour do nothing but attack my standard of living to bribe their core vote. You may disagree.

I think if you believe in Keynesian economics you disagree with the the premise of your argument, but maybe that's a separate thread because discussing our differences in economic opinion could take longer

Not true, Cameron had something of a road to Damascus conversion on gay marriage, switching his view around about 2008 and actively campaigning for within his party even prior to being made leader. He did oppose lesbian in vitro fertilisation rights though.

If you read back my bit on this I didn't disagree that Cameron didn't help push it through - what I said was it would have never have been on the agenda without thew Lib Dems. That's the Lib Dems version of events and I'd believe them on this issue over Cameron since their party has been pro Gay marriage for ages (not counting all that religious stuff with Tim Farron).

Well yes, as I said below, if you dismiss all his achievements as lucky or unworthy then you will indeed come to the conclusion you prefer. I think lot of that election loss was down to triumphalism on the left as well, they became a bit heady with the idea of power. I am not really sure how much policy "wildly unpopular" or otherwise really swings elections, it's always about these knee jerk "big ideas", like an aggressive left wing coalition seizing control. The left has become very good at explaining away its losses with pseudo-conspiracy theories about media this and unfair tactic that. This means it doesn't have to examine the flaws in its message.

While I did address your point regarding the election, which I disagree with obviously, my actual point to begin with on this was about the popularity of the Tories in Scotland and it's impact on the ascendance of Scottish Independence. You surely aren't going to say the policies were popular in Scotland are you?

And he achieved it, the deficit has been reduced. Out budget was in surplus in 2017. Horray!

1. He didn't reduce it anywhere near as fast as he promised.
2. He chose austerity and made Britain a more difficult place to live when Keynesianism would have worked much better - like it did in other countries
3. Also: http://positivemoney.org/2018/03/the-governments-running-a-surplus-but-should-we-be-celebrating/

Ha ha, so poor Gordon was a victim but evil David was incompetent despite dealing with the very same economic factors? Brown sold off the gold at a historic low, he broke his own "golden rule", "over the economic cycle, we will borrow only to invest", and also destroyed private pensions by removing tax relief for good measure, to bribe teachers with a pre-election pay rise. He smeared his own voter as a bigot, he started in office with a debt of 322bn and left with it at 671.5bn, it had grown to 583bn.... before the crash! He was an appalling prime minister and a disingenuous person, ready to hang his ethics to save his doomed Premiership.

Spin spin spin. You mentioned a lot of things there. The debt thing was obviously a result of the global crash. Tories would have handled it worse I would imagine, because they don't believe in nationalising anything (banks) or in Keynesianism. The bigot thing was a stupid mistake and I said he wasn't good with PR and the public already but has nothing to do with him running the country. I'd need to look into the private pensions thing because I've not read about that or you'll need to give me some reading but going off the rest of what you wrote, it sounds like more Tory spin to me.

Now the Gold selling thing. Ok, Between July 1999 and March 2002 the government sold 395 tonnes of UK gold, about 58% of the government's total reserves of 715 tonnes. Brown's justification for the sale was to diversify the country's assets.

As Alan Beattie says in the FT , holding onto gold is a largely pointless activity for governments. If you convert the gold to money you can at least earn interest and that's what happened to the money which the government made from the sell-off: it was invested in foreign currency interest-bearing assets , 40% in dollars, 40% in euros and 20% in yen.

The Tories want you to believe that selling the gold in 1999 cost the taxpayer many billions of pounds. Here's how his fantasy maths works:

Selling the gold at an average price of $277/oz made the government a total of $3.5 billion. With gold prices peaking at $1,780.65 the government could have made as much as $22.5 billion. But anyone who says they can predict the price of anything 12 years in the future is completely bonkers.

The difference between what he *could* have got and what he actually did is a big looking $19 billion. In pounds that's 12.4 billion.

Here's that fantasy-land loss in a number:$19bn Hypothetical losses from selling at $277/oz instead of the peak gold price in 2011.

The average price of gold in the three years after the sale was $376/oz. That's still more than the $277/oz average sale price, but not much more. So in theory waiting a couple of years would have netted the Treasury $4.8 billion. That's $1.3bn (0.8bn pounds) more than he actually got.

Here's this more common sense analysis of the loss in a number: $1.3bn. Hypothetical losses from selling at $277/oz instead of the average price over next three years. That's still a huge chunk of change but it ain't 9 billion. It also doesn't include any potential profit from the money we made from selling the gold. And it's less than the estimated losses from the bodged Royal Mail sale.

Did you know we sold half our gold in 1970? Between 1970-71 the Bank of England sold nearly half of our gold reserves. Just like the Brown sell-off it was sold at a historic low of about $42.5/oz in October 1971. Only a year later it was worth $65/oz.

dscross:

Gordon_4:
Imsuppose the answer to this question depends on when your living memory starts.

Well, it's just a phrase...

You could take the average age of the population of Britain, which is 40.

Or you could take the average life expectancy at the moment, which is 79.4

Or you could take the the oldest woman in Britain - who is 115 years old. Take your pick.

The latter two would allow us to chose Churchill. So, yeah, he's not the worst.

Thaluikhain:

dscross:

Gordon_4:
Imsuppose the answer to this question depends on when your living memory starts.

Well, it's just a phrase...

You could take the average age of the population of Britain, which is 40.

Or you could take the average life expectancy at the moment, which is 79.4

Or you could take the the oldest woman in Britain - who is 115 years old. Take your pick.

The latter two would allow us to chose Churchill. So, yeah, he's not the worst.

I think I'd define 'worst' as on their own terms though. At least you can say Churchill helped steer Britain through a World War, which is an achievement of sorts. Can you say that about Cameron? I'm happy to listen to arguments re-Churchill though because I'm interested in your points about him.

dscross:
I think I'd define 'worst' as on their own terms though. At least you can say Churchill helped steer Britain through a World War, which is an achievement of sorts. Can you say that about Cameron?

There was not a World War going on when Cameron was in power. This does not make him a worse PM than Churchill. Churchill was a racist, self-aggrandising, drunken buffoon.

One might note that he wasn't elected as PM, Chamberlain retired and Churchill took over. In the next election, Attlee totally defeated him.

Thaluikhain:

dscross:
I think I'd define 'worst' as on their own terms though. At least you can say Churchill helped steer Britain through a World War, which is an achievement of sorts. Can you say that about Cameron?

There was not a World War going on when Cameron was in power. This does not make him a worse PM than Churchill. Churchill was a racist, self-aggrandising, drunken buffoon.

One might note that he wasn't elected as PM, Chamberlain retired and Churchill took over. In the next election, Attlee totally defeated him.

What were some of the specifics that Churchill did in power that you didn't like though? I'm genuinely interested to hear the arguments. I didn't like him as a person, but I need more arguments to rate him as a PM.

I feel Brexit will cause history to remember Cameron very poorly and rightfully so. On the other hand Brexit being a referendum means there's plenty of blame to go around. Yes, Cameron was stupid for organizing it but it would never have grown to be the disaster it became if the British people had acted sensibly rather then allowing themselves to be duped by obvious conmen. Ultimately it were the British people who weren't smart enough to see through the Brexit lies despite there being very little pointing towards Brexit being a good idea. Cameron was dumb but far to many voters were even dumber then him.

As for May, its hard to judge her on her own merit because her position is such a poisoned chalice. I doubt anyone would have done a good job trying to balance the interests of radical Brexiteers powerful enough to oust you and the political middle ground which might also oust you. The elections were a terrible idea but only in hindsight. At the time Corbyn was supposed to be incredibly close to his political death while May would be overseeing the greatest transition in recent British history without any real mandate. A successful election would have killed those two birds with one stone. The election would be lost partly because of May herself but the revival of Corbyn was also genuinely surprising.

Cameron was lousy, but you can't really blame him for holding a referendum. Pick him up on his stubborn insistence on running the remain case himself and losing it, sure. But it was a growing issue, both in the Tory party and in the wider country, that needed addressing. He was your average politician - self-serving, largely unprincipled, and at the end of the day, for more believing in his own abilities than he had any right to be.

Can I nominate Nick Clegg? As Deputy at least. Got his coalition priorities all wrong, shot his own party's chances in the foot for the foreseeable future, and wasted all his negotiating power for a referendum nobody really wanted where the context was never really explained.

Does Tatcher count as living memory? She was divisive to say the least. While I think people generally aprove of her handling of the Falklands war, her economic policy tends to be less popular, reportedly being rather strongly rightwing. Just tossing the option out there, I don't really know British PM's from before I was born all that well to judge myself. As for Cameron, my general impressions of the guy align pretty closely with those of Catnip above.

Pseudonym:
Does Tatcher count as living memory? She was divisive to say the least. While I think people generally aprove of her handling of the Falklands war, her economic policy tends to be less popular, reportedly being rather strongly rightwing. Just tossing the option out there, I don't really know British PM's from before I was born all that well to judge myself. As for Cameron, my general impressions of the guy align pretty closely with those of Catnip above.

Yes Thatcher counts. I hated Thatcher for what she did to worker's rights and Unions but, no-one can say she wasn't effective at the horrible things she set out to do. From that point of view, I'd rather have Cameron than Thatcher in power. However, Cameron was ineffective at what he wanted. If we are talking about achievements on their owns terms, Cameron comes out worst for me.

1. His government was all about 'paying down Britain's debts', he declared in 2013: it actually added more debt than every Labour government put together.

2. Upon assuming office, he committed 'to ensuring our whole country shares in rising prosperity': his government presided over the longest fall in wages and the most protracted economic stagnation for generations.

3. After his election victory, his chancellor introduced three fiscal rules: a welfare cap, a national debt falling as a proportion of GDP, and a budget surplus. The first two were broken by March; the budget surplus was ignominiously abandoned by George Osborne at the beginning of July.

4. Osborne's successors have now abandoned his economic strategy, a confession of failure. They now advocate a fiscal stimulus. All that misery, all that bloodcurdling rhetoric about the disastrous consequences of Britain not cutting its deficit. All for what?

5. Education. 'We've got to win the great debate about education in this country, to give choice to parents, freedom to schools, and to fight for high standards,' he declared back in his 2005 speech. A recent league table revealed that local authority schools are, overall, outperforming the government's flagship academies.

6. Cameron hoped that his premiership would preserve the UK's union for generations. But Scotland's independence referendum result was not only far narrower than anticipated, it left the country polarised and halfway out. While the Scottish National party only had six MPs when David Cameron came to power, the majority of Scottish MPs are now nationalists. With Scotland ejected from the EU against its will, it could still mean a break up of the UK.

7. What of foreign policy? Little is said about David Cameron's major foreign military escapade: war in Libya. Rather than ushering in a peaceful, stable, democratic Libya, the country was left consumed in chaos, war and extremism.

8. And then his means of political suicide: the EU referendum. It was called not with the national interest in mind, but as a method of resolving internal party divisions. It helped secure him a majority, and he gambled everything on it. The man who wanted his party to stop 'banging on about Europe' lost, and was left personally repudiated, his country plunged into its worst crisis since the war: economic turmoil, a wave of xenophobia and racism, and a country more bitterly divided than it has been for generations. Those who voted remain resent him for being the instrument of Britain's exit from the EU; those who voted leave resent him for what they regard as scaremongering.

There is an exception to all this: equal marriage for same-sex couples, won on the backs of Labour and Lib Dem votes. But generally, I think he was total failure in almost everything he set out to do.

Pseudonym:
Does Tatcher count as living memory?

Seriously? Those who remember the '80s are considered almost entirely dead?

warmachine:

Pseudonym:
Does Tatcher count as living memory?

Seriously? Those who remember the '80s are considered almost entirely dead?

No.

It was more of a question towards dscross than a reflection of what I think and it was meant not be taken literally in the way you are doing right now. I regard ww2 as definitely within living memory, with ww1 as something of a limit case at the moment. So Tatcher was definitely within living memory. The point was that she was older than most other pm's mentioned thus far and maybe she was considered outside of the scope of this thread for that reason. Phrases are sometimes used loosely and I thought maybe dscross meant for living memory to be understood as more recent than what the phrase literally means.

dscross:
Yes Thatcher counts. I hated Thatcher for what she did to worker's rights and Unions but, no-one can say she wasn't effective at the horrible things she set out to do. From that point of view, I'd rather have Cameron than Thatcher in power. However, Cameron was ineffective at what he wanted. If we are talking about achievements on their owns terms, Cameron comes out worst for me.

Fair enough, though I would measure 'worst PM' not in terms of effectiveness but in terms of what said PM did. But if that's the angle you want to go for, that is fine. I do think that achieving what you set out to do is not a good thing if you set out to do something horrible but I think you don't disagree with that.

I'm pretty sure that Theresa May is hell bent on taking that title.

ErrrorWayz:
Labour do nothing but attack my standard of living to bribe their core vote.

Yes, and the Tories are busy attacking the standard of living of the other half of the country to bribe their core vote.

Which, incidentally, includes me. Thanks to the Tories, my salary decreased approaching 10% in real terms over the course of 2012-2017. I'm pretty sure my productivity and societal usefulness didn't decline in that period. But that's not much of why I don't like them - I am not particularly money-orientated, and fairly well paid. I'm more irritated by their attitude that to me as a "public sector worker" (although I work in a department almost entirely funded by private money). I feel I'm mostly there to be occasionally patronisingly patted on the head when I do a good job or when they want to boast about my sector's accomplishments, but treated as an idle, useless, leeching drain on the taxpayer in most other respects, especially in terms of remuneration for the achievements that they were using to boast about the week before.

Mostly, I don't like them because I hold them primarily responsible for the bitterness, anger, hate, fear pessimism and despondency in this country. Their rhetoric is all about driving people against each other. Bluntly, one might not like the Guardian, Mirror, BBC, Independent or whichever other neutralish / centre / left media organ, but none of them close to the endless outpouring of bile, vitriol, contempt and outrage that the right regularly spews from its own. And this comes from their politicians too: as they do things like redistribute wealth away from the weakest in society, and they do with contemptuous and punitive policy, with morally berating rhetoric ("strivers and skivers"). The Tories win most of the elections, and they cut benefits and social services for the needy to give themselves tax cuts, and they win referendums on EU membership, and they're still not even happy. Writing their bitter and angry newspaper articles and bitter and angry letters to newspapers about how everyone else is ruining the country and afraid someone might do things differently.

dscross:
However, Cameron was ineffective at what he wanted. If we are talking about achievements on their owns terms, Cameron comes out worst for me.

1. His government was all about 'paying down Britain's debts', he declared in 2013: it actually added more debt than every Labour government put together.

2. Upon assuming office, he committed 'to ensuring our whole country shares in rising prosperity': his government presided over the longest fall in wages and the most protracted economic stagnation for generations.

3. After his election victory, his chancellor introduced three fiscal rules: a welfare cap, a national debt falling as a proportion of GDP, and a budget surplus. The first two were broken by March; the budget surplus was ignominiously abandoned by George Osborne at the beginning of July.

4. Osborne's successors have now abandoned his economic strategy, a confession of failure. They now advocate a fiscal stimulus. All that misery, all that bloodcurdling rhetoric about the disastrous consequences of Britain not cutting its deficit. All for what?

8. And then his means of political suicide: the EU referendum. It was called not with the national interest in mind, but as a method of resolving internal party divisions...

Indeed. The "party of economic competence" have basically provided us with 8 years of economic failure. And not just the material decreases in living standards half the country's living through, but they even failed to meet the targets that they had the liberty to set for themselves.

And then they topped it off with a reckless referendum (mostly passed by their own voters) which seems likely to substantially suppress the economy for years to come. THANKS FOR THAT, GUYS.

But hey, Boris and chums still have their mansions and are getting paid six figure salaries, so no biggie, eh. Now, let's just splash out another #46M of public money on a vanity project that won't even be started, and move on.

Agema:

Indeed. The "party of economic competence" have basically provided us with 8 years of economic failure. And not just the material decreases in living standards half the country's living through, but they even failed to meet the targets that they had the liberty to set for themselves.

And then they topped it off with a reckless referendum (mostly passed by their own voters) which seems likely to substantially suppress the economy for years to come. THANKS FOR THAT, GUYS.

But hey, Boris and chums still have their mansions and are getting paid six figure salaries, so no biggie, eh. Now, let's just splash out another #46M of public money on a vanity project that won't even be started, and move on.

It annoys me because the majority of economists said it wasn't even necessary to try and have budget surplus during a recession. A budget surplus is appropriate when the economy is in the growth phase of the economic cycle. In a recession, demand is depressed, and it is expected to have a budget deficit. Trying to attain a budget surplus in a recession will involve higher taxes and lower spending - but these policies could make the recession worse and longer. Therefore, it is better to wait until the economy recovers, and automatic fiscal stabilisers improve (higher growth automatically leads to higher income tax revenues).

The 1920s was a period of low growth and high unemployment in the UK and we had a large budget surplus but it did not help an economy struggling with overvalued Pound, deflation and weak demand.

They had it ass backwards. They should have been trying to stimulate the economy rather than making everyone miserable - but tbh, I think they had ulterior idealogical motivates as to why they wanted to cut things. It was probably just an excuse.

Thatcher surely is still living memory. Surely people aren't having that many babies.

dscross:

Agema:

Indeed. The "party of economic competence" have basically provided us with 8 years of economic failure. And not just the material decreases in living standards half the country's living through, but they even failed to meet the targets that they had the liberty to set for themselves.

And then they topped it off with a reckless referendum (mostly passed by their own voters) which seems likely to substantially suppress the economy for years to come. THANKS FOR THAT, GUYS.

But hey, Boris and chums still have their mansions and are getting paid six figure salaries, so no biggie, eh. Now, let's just splash out another #46M of public money on a vanity project that won't even be started, and move on.

It annoys me because the majority of economists said it wasn't even necessary to try and have budget surplus during a recession. A budget surplus is appropriate when the economy is in the growth phase of the economic cycle.

That's not the point of austerity. The point of austerity is redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich. Whatever flimsy justification they can use, they'll use. They'll say "the government needs to tighten its belt" because obviously governments with control over their own currencies are like families and need to save during hard times rather than that being the exact opposite of what is good for a government in that position to do; austerity was always transparent bullshit to anyone with half or more of an honest interest in economics[1].

The very rich actually don't care that much about the health of the economy. They can make lots of money and hold on to power either way. They care about distribution. They pay people to try to convince others not to care about distribution.

[1] I mean we're literally talking about pro-cyclical fiscal policy during the worst of a downturn. Who does that?! People who don't give one steaming shit about the economy, that's who.

dscross:
They had it ass backwards. They should have been trying to stimulate the economy rather than making everyone miserable - but tbh, I think they had ulterior idealogical motivates as to why they wanted to cut things. It was probably just an excuse.

I'm sure they did.

The thing is, I think the people who run the country, whilst sometimes incompetent or overconfident of what they do know, generally do have an idea of what works and what they want to do. After that, political debate in the public sphere is substantially about masking their real intentions with fake but attractive arguments.

What I also believe is that all parties need to do is service enough of the country to keep them in power. Ultimately, the good of the whole matters relatively little to the elites, because the elites will always thrive right up to the point of a revolution against them. Across most of the world, elites overall rob and impoverish their own countries, but it doesn't really matter to them. From the perspective of the developing world upper classes, they could make money by painstakingly building their countries into well developed countries... but it's often easier to make money by exploiting their countrymen. They just need to keep enough of the power (often the army & police) on their side.

And let's face it, the same really applies to the UK, America, France etc. We just have stronger institutions that make it somewhat harder for those with power to rig the system, and a democracy that puts a greater onus on winning over a substantial tract of the populace rather than limited powerbrokers.

Agema:

ErrrorWayz:
Labour do nothing but attack my standard of living to bribe their core vote.

Yes, and the Tories are busy attacking the standard of living of the other half of the country to bribe their core vote.

Which, incidentally, includes me. Thanks to the Tories, my salary decreased approaching 10% in real terms over the course of 2012-2017. I'm pretty sure my productivity and societal usefulness didn't decline in that period. But that's not much of why I don't like them - I am not particularly money-orientated, and fairly well paid. I'm more irritated by their attitude that to me as a "public sector worker" (although I work in a department almost entirely funded by private money). I feel I'm mostly there to be occasionally patronisingly patted on the head when I do a good job or when they want to boast about my sector's accomplishments, but treated as an idle, useless, leeching drain on the taxpayer in most other respects, especially in terms of remuneration for the achievements that they were using to boast about the week before.

Mostly, I don't like them because I hold them primarily responsible for the bitterness, anger, hate, fear pessimism and despondency in this country. Their rhetoric is all about driving people against each other. Bluntly, one might not like the Guardian, Mirror, BBC, Independent or whichever other neutralish / centre / left media organ, but none of them close to the endless outpouring of bile, vitriol, contempt and outrage that the right regularly spews from its own. And this comes from their politicians too: as they do things like redistribute wealth away from the weakest in society, and they do with contemptuous and punitive policy, with morally berating rhetoric ("strivers and skivers"). The Tories win most of the elections, and they cut benefits and social services for the needy to give themselves tax cuts, and they win referendums on EU membership, and they're still not even happy. Writing their bitter and angry newspaper articles and bitter and angry letters to newspapers about how everyone else is ruining the country and afraid someone might do things differently.

Yawn, straight from the heart of the entitled public sector. The public sector aren't special because they chose a particular job, they don't deserve guarantee pay rises, tax payer funded index linked pensions, effective tenure or umpteen days off with "stress". Public sector wages soared out of control under Brown and this is a correction. They don't deserve more than the 37% of my salary they get every month. I have a right to bring up my family just as much as you do and I am sick of Labour coming back to me and telling me I don't pay enough in a sneering, sanctimonious fashion. I see more bigotry and vitriol, more "turning people against each other" (mawkish vomit) in a single day from the Momentum thugs, and the far left Facebook "activists" and the Union Salt of the Earth heroes with their Nazi this and that bullshit because someone suggested it might be nice idea to check passport at the border than I see in a year in the Mail. I see more unfair redistribution to the feckless chavs who kept my 7 month kid up all last night in their completely free flat with their all night rave music (poor victims) than I ever see from the Tory Party. I seem more bitterness and envy and hate in the left, in the Guardian's nauseating Comment in Free "men and white people are evil", the Independent ridiculous weekly hysteria, the BBC's drip drip drip nudge nudge "victim of the week" than I have ever seen from the right. Frankly, you are wrong and you should get your own house in order before pointing the finger. The left isn't sainted, it's a seething mass of envious, feckless bigotry and its press is equally hateful.

Yes, and the Tories are busy attacking the standard of living of the other half of the country to bribe their core vote.

This is nonsense too, in the last decade more low paid people have been taken out of taxation than ever before.

dscross:
What were some of the specifics that Churchill did in power that you didn't like though? I'm genuinely interested to hear the arguments. I didn't like him as a person, but I need more arguments to rate him as a PM.

There was a thread that became a discussion/argument about him a little while ago here: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/528.1046857-Trump-admits-to-lying-to-Canadian-Prime-Minister?page=1

ErrrorWayz:
This is nonsense too, in the last decade more low paid people have been taken out of taxation than ever before.

Why do you think the definition of standard of living only refers to taxation? That's a bit of weird way of looking at things. Maybe YOU don't feel affected, but that's not everyone's experience. Not to put words in his mouth but I think this is what was meant by the standard of living:

1. Under the Tories, UK workers have suffered the most sustained fall in living standards since records began. Wages today are worth LESS than in 2007. Rising inflation is pushing up food and living costs. Millions of public workers - nurses, carers, teachers - are enduring a decade-long pay cut.

2. There are nearly one million workers on zero hours contracts. One in ten UK workers is in insecure low-paid self-employment. A steady income, basic employment rights, pensions and security are denied to more and more working people. The Tories have no policies to create decent, secure work.

3. 1.2 million foodbank parcels were given out to people in need over the past year by one foodbank charity alone. 436,000 food parcels were given to children. Chaotic, cruel Tory changes to the incomes of those in and out of work are blamed for the huge surge in foodbank dependency.

4. Our NHS is NOT safe in Tory hands: By forcing the NHS to make 20 billion pounds in savings - i.e cuts - by 2020, the Tories have driven the service into crisis. Life-saving health services face closure. NHS staff wages, cut by 17 per cent since 2010, have been cut again. Highly trained staff are leaving the service. The target of treating patients within 18 weeks of referral, missed for 11 months, has now been axed.

5. Because of Tory cuts, many councils are at breaking point and the social care system is on the verge of collapse. According to Age UK, nearly 1.2 million people aged 65+ don't receive the support they need with essential daily living activities. That's one in eight older people living with an unmet care need.

6. Tory cuts are ruining our children's chance of a decent education. Instead of investing in all our schools, the Tories will invest in the few through elite grammar and wasteful free schools while the majority of children endure rising class sizes and cuts in teaching staff.

7. By 2020, 3.6 million UK children will be living in poverty. In a class of 30, 9 children will be living in poverty. 2 in 3 children living in poverty are in a household where a parent works. Childcare and housing costs are two of the main reasons children are pushed into poverty; both have risen under the Tories.

8. The British people voted to be out of Europe, not out of work. But Theresa May refuses to commit to securing the Brexit trading arrangements on which millions of UK jobs depend. Key industries such as autos, engineering, food production could be devastated.

9. The Tories have refused to rule out increases in income tax, VAT or national insurance, meaning that taxes for people on average and low pay will increase.

10. Thanks to the Tories, employment tribunal fees cost workers seeking justice 1,200 pounds each. As a result, ET claims have fallen by 70 per cent. At the same time, the Tories have attacked the trades unions with needless, backwards laws designed to stop them sticking up for 6 million working people.

11. Average house prices are now at least seven times people's incomes. Rents can consume around half of wages. Families who need help to pay their rent will have to find hundreds of pounds extra every month now benefits have been cut - or face eviction. Under the Tories, fewer housing association homes are being built. In 2016, only 2080 council homes were built in the whole of England. The Tory promise to build more council homes comes with no new money.

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