David Cameron is not so much the man without qualities, but the man without insecurities
Sir John Major has the best measure of David Cameron, who continues to leave his rivals trailing in the polls, with the majority of the electorate regarding him as competent, forceful and a good leader, despite the economic crisis.
I met Sir John at a party last week and we began talking about our current crop of politicians. Major remarked: ’David Cameron is more at ease in his own skin as prime minister than any premier I have known.’ As well as possessing a laser-like sharpness that has made him a wealthy and now respected, man, Sir John has known every prime minister since Edward Heath.
Was Heath at ease in his own skin? No. He was too much of a snob, and having come from a lower middle class background, was both insecure, rude and over anxious to impress. Margaret Thatcher was at ease with her own beliefs, but as Major concluded, not at ease with the toffish element of her party, many of whom of whom despised her. (She once confided to me that she felt ‘as if I am always looking over my shoulder.’)
Even Tony Blair was made to feel insecure by the Labour Left and seemed to go through the tortures of the damned during a crisis. One only has to look at how badly he has aged to see that he did not thrive on power the way the media supposed.
But David Cameron is not so much the man without qualities, but the man without insecurities. He comes from a loving upper middle class home and won a First at Oxford. He married young and happily. After working for former chancellor Norman Lamont he moved to Chanel Four, where he acquired enough money for his wants.
When I got to know Mr Cameron during this period, he was the most self-possessed young man I had met. Others are at ease with their backgrounds, but the truth is that David Cameron is some kind of freak. A Capote-esque ‘unspoiled monster.’ He once confessed to me that he had never known self-doubt. He is secure socially, intellectually, and emotionally. Unlike George Osborne, who can seem nervous and hesitant, he gives not a fig for what most people think of him.
Even those in the Tory party who disagree with him, saying that Libya was ‘a great piece of luck’ and, in any case, ‘We might get something worse than Gaddafi,’ are beginning to think he could any situation to his advantage. John Major is right, as he was so often, despite the ordure thrown at him in the past. Cameron is the most formidable politician of the last 30 years. Not the best or the wisest, but yes, the most formidable.