The full version of Donald Sassoon's lacerating review of David Cameron's memoirs is now about to read free of charge online. It is a remarkable polemic: The worst prime minister ever
I am reluctant to criticise a fellow editor of Political Quarterly and he has produced a devastating and eloquent critique. I just make three simple points:
- There clearly isn't a lot of point in comparing Cameron with 18th or 19th century prime ministers who were operating in a very different environment. But if we just confine ourselves to the 75-year period since the end of the Second World War, there is surely a case for Sir Anthony Eden who deceived the House of Commons about going to war. More recently, Theresa May has been criticised on a number of fronts.
- Dave Cameron certainly had his flaws, and his memoirs are self-justificatory and tedious - but that could be said of many political memoirs. I do think he had an inability to think many moves ahead on the chess board of politics (as was evident from my one engagement with him), but that's never easy.
- Much of the view you take of Dave depends on whether you are a hard core remainer. I voted remain and even campaigned for it in front of hostile audiences (I can recall being the warm up act for Ken Clarke). However, I have seen enough of the EU from close up to have some reservations about it, in particular about the strength of the 'reform from within' argument. I still think it was the wrong decision to leave, particularly with what looks like a very hard Brexit, but I don't think a referendum could or should have been avoided for ever (albeit that Dave was too confident about winning it).
Anyway, do read what Sassoon has to say.