I read in the media this morning that, once it became clear that Remain has lost the EU Referendum, David Cameron decided upon – and would not be dissuaded from – resigning as Prime Minister for two reasons: (1) he instinctively recoiled from staying on in order to negotiate an EU departure with which he disagreed; and (2) quoting Enoch Powell’s dictum ‘All political lives end in failure’, he reckoned that losing the Referendum was his and it was time to go.
In fact Mr Cameron’s downfall resulted from twin mistakes: he first promised a EU Referendum and then went through with it, even though presumably the potential theoretical dangers (albeit perhaps wrongly regarded by all at Number 10 as slight at the time) of holding one would have been pointed out to him.
Thus he will drift into history as the PM who lost a referendum and caused Brexit, just as predecessor Tony Blair will be forever indelibly stained as the man who willingly became George W. Bush’s poodle and took Britain into Iraq and Afghanistan on a lie, rather than the man who dragged Labour kicking and screaming to three improbable successive General Election victories.
It seems to me that the great dichotomy – or is it irony? – attending all political careers, certainly successful ones, is that having firm political principles is a distinct disadvantage. Well, at least any that you intend to stick to come hell or high water (unless, that is, you count the single and exclusive one of pursuing your ambition to reach the top).
Looking at the state of the Tory party leadership race this morning it is difficult to avoid the impression that it has been reduced to little more than a beauty parade of candidates who are each saying to those who will decide the outcome: “Tell us where you wish to go and I’ll lead you there”.
In other words, a case of who do you think would be your best leader (i.e. most likely to win a General Election), not what policies do they stand for.