David Cameron

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The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
David Cameron

Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office 
December 6, 2005
Preceded by Michael Howard
Succeeded by Incumbent
Constituency Witney
Majority 14,156 (26.3%)

Born October 9, 1966
Flag of England Oxfordshire, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse Samantha Sheffield
Children Ivan, Nancy and Arthur
Website www.davidcameronmp.com

David William Donald Cameron (born 9 October 1966) is the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom, positions he has occupied since December 2005. He is regarded as a successful leader who has helped the party re-establish itself after a long period of decline.

He has been involved in British politics for much of his adult life. His first political job was a three-month research post for Tim Rathbone MP (his godfather) before he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford. There Cameron gained a first class honours degree; his tutor Professor Vernon Bogdanor said he was "one of the ablest students" he has taught.

After Oxford, Cameron joined the Conservative Research Department and became Special Adviser to Norman Lamont (serving during Black Wednesday), and then to Michael Howard. He was Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications for seven years; company chairman Michael Green described him as "board material". Cameron's first candidacy for Parliament in 1997 ended in defeat but he was elected in 2001 as Member of Parliament for the Oxfordshire constituency of Witney.

Promoted to the Opposition front bench two years after entering Parliament, Cameron rose rapidly to be head of policy co-ordination during the 2005 general election campaign. He won the Conservative leadership after presenting himself as a young and moderate candidate who would appeal to young voters. His leadership has seen the Conservative Party establish a clear lead in opinion polls.


Family background

David Cameron was brought up near Wantage in Oxfordshire, England, the son of stockbroker Ian Donald Cameron and Mary Fleur Mount the second daughter of Sir William Malcolm Mount, 2nd Baronet. His father was born in Scotland at Blairmore House near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, a house built by Cameron's grandfather Ewen Donald Cameron's maternal grandfather Alexander Geddes who had made a fortune in the grain business in Chicago and had returned to Scotland in the 1880s.

The Cameron family were originally from the Inverness area. His father's family had a long history in the world of finance: David Cameron's great grandfather Arthur Francis Levita (brother of Sir Cecil Levita) of Panmure Gordon stockbrokers and his great-great grandfather Sir Ewen Cameron, London head of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank played key roles in discussions led by the Rothschilds with the Japanese central banker (later Prime Minister) Takahashi Korekiyo concerning the selling of war bonds during the Russo-Japanese war.

His great grandfather Ewen Allan Cameron, a senior partner with Panmure Gordon stockbrokers was also a notable figure in the financial world serving on the Council for Foreign Bondholders and the Committee for Chinese Bondholders set up by the then Governor of the Bank of England Montagu Norman in November, 1935. His grandfather Ewen Donald and father Ian Donald also worked for Panmure Gordon stockbrokers.

David Cameron is a descendant of King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan (and thus 5th cousin, twice removed of Queen Elizabeth II) through his father's maternal grandmother Stephanie Levita, daughter of the society surgeon Sir Alfred Cooper who was also father of the statesman and author Duff Cooper, grandfather of the publisher and man of letters Rupert Hart-Davis and historian John Julius Norwich, and great grandfather of the TV presenter Adam Hart-Davis and journalist and writer Duff Hart-Davis (David's second cousins once removed). His mother is first cousin of the writer and political commentator Ferdinand Mount.


He was educated at Eton College, probably the most prestigious English public school, following his elder brother Alex who was three years above him; where his early interest was in art. Cameron hit trouble in May 1982 six weeks before taking his O-levels when he was named as having smoked cannabis. Because he admitted the offence and had not been involved in selling drugs, he was not expelled, but he was fined, prevented from leaving school grounds, and given a "Georgic" (a punishment which involved copying 500 lines of Latin text).

Cameron recovered from this episode and passed 12 O-Levels, and then studied three A-Levels in History of Art, History and Economics with Politics. He obtained three 'A' grades and a '1' grade in the Scholarship level exam in Economics and Politics. He then stayed on to sit the entrance exam for Oxford University, which was sat the following autumn. He passed, did well at interview, and was given a place at Brasenose College, his first choice.

After finally leaving Eton just before Christmas 1984, Cameron had nine months of a gap year before going up to Oxford. In January he began work as a researcher for Tim Rathbone, Conservative MP for Lewes and his godfather, in his Parliamentary office. He was there only for three months, but used the time to attend debates in the House of Commons. Through his father, he was then employed for a further three months in Hong Kong by Jardine Matheson as a 'ship jumper', an administrative post for which no experience was needed but which gave him some experience of work.

Returning from Hong Kong he visited Moscow and a Yalta beach in the Soviet Union, and was at one point approached by two Russian men speaking fluent English. Cameron was later told by one of his professors that it was 'definitely an attempt' by the KGB to recruit him.


Cameron studied at Oxford, where he read for a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) at Brasenose College. His tutor at Oxford, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, described him as "one of the ablest and nicest" students he has taught, whose political views were "moderate and sensible conservative".

While at Oxford, Cameron was captain of Brasenose College's tennis team . He was also a member of the student dining society the Bullingdon Club, which was originally founded as a cricket and hunting club but recently has a obtained a reputation for a drinking culture associated with boisterous behaviour and damaging property usually in the private rooms of restaurants and pubs hired out to the club. A photograph showing Cameron in a tailcoat with other members of the club including Boris Johnson surfaced in 2007, but was later withdrawn by the copyright holder. He also belonged to the Octagon Club, another dining society. Cameron graduated in 1988 with a first class honours degree.

Family life

Cameron married Samantha Sheffield, daughter of Sir Reginald Sheffield, 8th Baronet on 1 June 1996 at Ginge Manor in Oxfordshire. Among the guests at the wedding were Jade Jagger, a friend of the Sheffield family. The Camerons have three children. Their first child Ivan Reginald Ian was born on April 8, 2002. He was born with cerebral palsy and severe epilepsy. Recalling the receipt of this news, Cameron is quoted as saying: "The news hits you like a freight train... You are depressed for a while because you are grieving for the difference between your hopes and the reality. But then you get over that, because he’s wonderful!"

The Camerons also have a daughter, Nancy Gwendoline (born January 19, 2004), and another son, Arthur Elwen (born February 14, 2006). Cameron took paternity leave when his second son was born and this decision received broad coverage, including the BBC Six o'Clock News. Cameron has been urged by a Telegraph commentator to mention his family less in public.

Pre-Parliamentary career

Conservative Research Department

After graduation, Cameron worked for the Conservative Research Department between 1988 and 1992. In 1991 he was seconded to Downing Street to work on briefing John Major for his then biweekly session of Prime Minister's Questions. One newspaper gave Cameron the credit for "sharper .. [ despatch box ] performances" by Major, which included highlighting for Major, "a dreadful piece of doublespeak" by Tony Blair over the effect of a national minimum wage. He became head of the political section of the Conservative Research Department, and in August 1991 was tipped to follow Judith Chaplin as Political Secretary to the Prime Minister.

However, Cameron lost out to Jonathan Hill who was appointed in March 1992. He was given the responsibility for briefing John Major for his press conferences during the 1992 general election.. During the campaign, Cameron was one of the young "Brat pack" of party strategists who worked between 12 and 20 hours a day, sleeping in the house of Alan Duncan in Gayfere Street which had been Major's campaign headquarters during his bid for the Conservative leadership. Cameron headed the economic section; it was while working on this campaign that Cameron first worked closely with Steve Hilton, who was later to become Director of Strategy during his party leadership. The strain of getting up at 4:45 AM every day was reported to have led Cameron to decide to leave politics in favour of journalism.

Special Adviser

The Conservative's unexpected success in the 1992 election led Cameron to hit back at older party members who had criticised him and his colleagues. He was quoted as saying, the day after the election, "whatever people say about us, we got the campaign right" and that they had listened to their campaign workers on the ground rather than the newspapers. He revealed he had led other membes of the team across Smith Square to jeer at Transport House, the former Labour headquarters. Cameron was rewarded with a promotion to be Special Advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont.

Cameron was working for Lamont at the time of Black Wednesday, when pressure from currency speculators forced the Pound sterling out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. At the 1992 Conservative Party conference in October, Cameron had a tough time trying to arrange to brief the speakers in the economic debate, having to resort to putting messages on the internal television system imploring the mover of the motion Patricia Morris to contact him. Later that month Cameron joined a delegation of Special Advisers who visited Germany to build better relations with the Christian Democratic Union; he was reported to be "still smarting" over the Bundesbank's contribution to the economic crisis.

Cameron's boss Norman Lamont fell out with John Major after Black Wednesday and became highly unpopular with the public. Taxes needed to be raised in the 1993 budget, and Cameron fed the options Lamont was considering through to Conservative Central Office for their political acceptablity to be assessed. However, Lamont's unpopularity did not necessarily affect Cameron: he was considered as a potential "kamikaze" candiate for the Newbury by-election, which included the area where he grew up. However, Cameron decided not to run.

During the byelection, Lamont gave the response " Je ne regrette rien" to a question about his regrets over economic policy. Cameron was identified by one journalist as having inspired this gaffe; it was speculated that the heavy Conservative defeat in Newbury may have cost Cameron his chance of becoming Chancellor himself. Lamont was sacked at the end of May 1993, and decided not to write the usual letter of resignation; Cameron was given the responsibility to issue to the press a statement of self-justification.

Home Office

After Lamont was sacked, Cameron remained at the Treasury for less than a month before being specifically recruited by Home Secretary Michael Howard; it was commented that he was still "very much in favour". It was later reported that many at the Treasury would have preferred Cameron to carry on. At the beginning of September 1993, Cameron applied to go on Conservative Central Office's list of Parliamentary candidates.

According to Derek Lewis, then Director-General of the Prison Service, Cameron showed him a "his and hers list" of proposals made by Howard and his wife, Sandra. Lewis said that Sandra Howard's list included reducing the quality of prison food, although Sandra Howard denied this claim. Lewis reported that Cameron was "uncomfortable" about the list. In defending Sandra Howard and insisting that she made no such proposal, the journalist Bruce Anderson wrote that Cameron had proposed a much shorter definition on prison catering which revolved around the phrase "balanced diet", and that Lewis had written thanking Cameron for a valuable contribution.

During his work for Howard, Cameron often briefed the press. In March 1994, someone leaked to the press that the Labour Party had called for a meeting with John Major to discuss a consensus on the Prevention of Terrorism Act. After a leak inquiry failed to find the culprit, Labour MP Peter Mandelson demanded of Howard that he give an assurance that Cameron had not been responsible, which Howard gave.


In July 1994, Cameron left his role as Special Adviser to work as the Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications. Carlton, which had won the ITV franchise for London weekdays in 1991, were a growing media company which also had film distribution and video producing arms. In 1997 Cameron played up the company's prospects for digital terrestrial television, for which it joined with Granada television and BSkyB to form British Digital Broadcasting. In a roundtable discussion on the future of broadcasting in 1998 he criticised the effect of overlapping different regulators on the industry.

Carlton's consortium did win the digital terrestrial franchise but the resulting company suffered difficulties in attracting subscribers. In 1999 the Express on Sunday newspaper claimed Cameron had rubbished one of its stories which had given an accurate number of subscribers, because he wanted the number to appear higher than expected. Cameron resigned as Director of Corporate Affairs in February 2001 in order to fight for election to Parliament, although he remained on the payroll as a consultant.

Stafford candidate

Having been approved for the candidates' list, Cameron began looking for a seat to contest. He was reported to have missed out on selection for Ashford in December 1994 after failing to get to the selection meeting due to train delays. Early in 1996, he was selected for Stafford, a new constituency created in boundary changes, which was projected to have a Conservative majority. At the 1996 Conservative Party conference he called for tax cuts in the forthcoming budget to be targeted at the low paid and to "small businesses where people took money out of their own pockets to put into companies to keep them going".

When writing his election address, Cameron made his own opposition to British membership of the single European currency clear, pledging not to support it. This was a break with official Conservative policy but about 200 other candidates were making similar declarations. Otherwise, Cameron kept very closely to the national party line. He also campaigned using the claim that a Labour government would increase the cost of a pint of beer by 24p; however the Labour candidate David Kidney portrayed Cameron as "a right-wing Tory". Stafford had a swing almost the same as the national swing, which made it one of the many seats to fall to Labour: David Kidney had a majority of 4,314.

Parliamentary career

Selection contests

In the round of selection contests taking place in the run-up to the 2001 general election, Cameron again attempted to be selected for a winnable seat. He tried out for the Kensington and Chelsea seat after the death of Alan Clark, but did not make the shortlist. He was in the final two but narrowly lost at Wealden in March 2000, a loss ascribed by Samantha Cameron to his lack of spontaneity when speaking.

Witney candidate

On 4 April 2000 Cameron was selected as prospective candidate for Witney in Oxfordshire. This was a safe Conservative seat but its sitting MP Shaun Woodward (who had worked with Cameron on the 1992 election campaign) had joined the Labour Party; newspapers claimed Cameron and Woodward had "loathed each other", although Cameron's biographers Francis Elliott and James Hanning describe them as being "on fairly friendly terms". Cameron put a great deal of effort into "nursing" his constituency, turning up at social functions, and attacked Woodward for changing his mind on fox hunting to support a ban.

During the election campaign, Cameron accepted the offer of writing a regular column for The Guardian's online section. He won the seat with a 1.9% swing to the Conservatives and a majority of 7,973.


Upon his election to Parliament, he served as a member of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, a plum choice for a new MP. It was Cameron's proposal that the Committee launch an inquiry into the law on drugs, and during the inquiry he urged the consideration of "radical options". The report recommended a downgrading of Ecstasy from Class A to Class B, as well as moves towards a policy of ' harm reduction', which Cameron defended.

Cameron determinedly attempted to increase his public profile, offering quotes on matters of public controversy. He opposed the payment of compensation to Gurbux Singh, who had resigned as head of the Commission for Racial Equality after a confrontation with the police; and commented that the Home Affairs Select Committee had taken a long time to discuss whether the phrase "black market" should be used. However, he was passed over for a front bench promotion in July 2002; Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith did invite Cameron and his ally George Osborne to coach him on Prime Minister's Questions in November 2002. The next week, Cameron deliberately abstained in a vote on allowing same sex and unmarried couples to adopt children jointly, against a whip to oppose; his abstention was noted. The wide scale of abstentions and rebellious votes destabilised the Iain Duncan Smith leadership.

In June 2003, Cameron was appointed as a shadow minister in the Privy Council Office as a deputy to Eric Forth who was then Shadow Leader of the House. He also became a vice chairman of the Conservative Party when Michael Howard took over the leadership in November of that year. He was appointed to the opposition frontbench local government spokesman in 2004 before being promoted into the shadow cabinet that June as head of policy co-ordination. Just three months later he became shadow education secretary in the post-election reshuffle.

From February 2002 until August 2005 he was a non-executive director of Urbium PLC, operator of the Tiger Tiger bar chain.

Leadership of the Conservative Party

Leadership election

Following the Labour victory in the May 2005 General Election, Michael Howard announced his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party and set a lengthy timetable for the leadership election, as part of a plan (subsequently rejected) to change the leadership election rules.

Cameron announced formally that he would be a candidate for the position on 29 September 2005. Parliamentary colleagues supporting him initially included Boris Johnson, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, then Shadow Defence Secretary and deputy leader of the party Michael Ancram, Oliver Letwin and former party leader William Hague. Despite this, his campaign did not gain significant support prior to the 2005 Conservative Party Conference. However his speech, delivered without notes, proved a significant turning point. In the speech he vowed to make people, "feel good about being Conservatives again" and said he wanted, "to switch on a whole new generation."

In the first ballot of Conservative MPs on 18 October 2005, Cameron came second, with 56 votes, slightly more than expected; David Davis had fewer than predicted at 62 votes; Liam Fox came third with 42 votes and Ken Clarke was eliminated with 38 votes. In the second ballot on 20 October 2005, Cameron came first with 90 votes; David Davis was second, with 57, and Liam Fox was eliminated with 51 votes. All 198 Conservative MPs voted in both ballots.

The next stage of the election process, between Davis and Cameron, was a vote open to the entire Conservative party membership. Cameron was elected with more than twice as many votes as Davis and more than half of all ballots issued; Cameron won 134,446 votes on a 78% turnout, beating Davis's 64,398 votes.

His election as the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition, was announced on 6 December 2005.

At the time of his election as leader, Cameron had been a Member of Parliament for just over four years, making him the most inexperienced parliamentarian to take the leadership of a major British political party since William Pitt the Younger, although he was active in politics before becoming an MP. As is customary for an Opposition leader who is not already a member (for example Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair and Iain Duncan Smith), upon election Cameron has become a member of the Privy Council, being formally approved to join on 14 December 2005, and sworn of the Council on 8 March 2006. Cameron was not the youngest post-war leader of the Conservative Party; this record belongs to William Hague, elected at the age of 36.

Allegations of drug use

During the leadership election allegations were made that Cameron had used cannabis and cocaine recreationally before becoming an MP. Pressed on this point during the BBC programme Question Time, Cameron said "I'm allowed to have had a private life before politics in which we make mistakes and we do things that we should not and we are all human and we err and stray." Hours before the second ballot of MPs on 20 October 2005, he stated in an interview with Channel 4 that he had not taken Class A drugs since being elected to Parliament in 2001.

A 2007 book revealed his Eton punishment for cannabis use and claims Cameron continued to smoke the drug while studying at Oxford. According to friends he described his school experience as a "wake-up call".

Shadow Cabinet appointments

His Shadow Cabinet appointments have included MPs associated with the various wings of the party. Former leader William Hague was appointed to the Foreign Affairs brief and David Davis was retained as Shadow Home Secretary. Hague, assisted by Davis, stood in for Cameron during his paternity leave in February 2006.

Standing in opinion polls

During the first month of Cameron's leadership, the Conservatives' standing in opinion polls rose, with several pollsters putting the Conservative party ahead of the ruling Labour party by margins of 1 to 9 points. In early Spring 2006 the Conservative and Labour parties drew even, but after the May 2006 local elections various polls once again generally show Conservative leads. An opinion poll in February 2007 showed that a Cameron-led Conservative Party would have a 42% to 29% lead over a Gordon Brown-led Labour.

Policies and views

Cameron describes himself as a "modern compassionate conservative" and has spoken of a need for a new style of politics, saying that he was "fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster". He has stated that he is "certainly a big Thatcher fan, but I don't know whether that makes me a Thatcherite." He has also claimed to be a "liberal Conservative", and "not a deeply ideological person." Cameron has stated that he does not intend to oppose the government as a matter of course, and will offer his support in areas of agreement. He has urged politicians to concentrate more on improving people's happiness and "general well-being", instead of focusing solely on "financial wealth". There have been claims that he described himself to journalists at a dinner during the leadership contest as the " heir to Blair".

On his first day as leader Cameron announced the launch of six 18-month policy reviews to develop new ideas in the specified areas. These included the Quality of Life Challenge, under the chairmanship of John Gummer, covering a series of issues including climate change, urban landscape, traffic jams, and affordable housing, the Global Poverty Challenge and the Public Service Challenge.

He and others in the " Notting Hill set" have sought to focus on issues such as the environment, work-life balance and international development -- issues not seen as priorities for the post-Thatcher Conservative party. In a speech to the Conservative annual conference in October 2006, he identified the concept of " social responsibility" as the essence of his political philosophy.

Some political commentators have suggested that his style is influenced by the Swedish Moderate Party leader and current Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, who advocates moving to the centre and supporting traditionally centre-left issues and in fact, Reinfelt himself has been called the "Swedish David Cameron".

Economic policy

Cameron has said that it is "essential to reduce taxes on employment and wealth creation in order to enhance our economy's competitiveness. But I don't think it's sensible today to write a Conservative budget for 2009 or 2010, with specific pledges on tax reduction." He has stated that he hoped to cut taxes and raise public spending, "as the economy grows". He has referred to this approach as "sharing the proceeds of growth".

Cameron has recently expressed interest in introducing "frequent flyer" taxes on those who frequently fly around the globe. But he has said that this would be a replacement tax as opposed to an additional tax.

Social policy

In a July 2005 speech to the Centre for Social Justice (before becoming party leader) he stated, "the biggest challenge our country faces is not economic decline, but social decline". Cameron has also said, "there is such a thing as society, it's just not the same thing as the state" - a reference to Margaret Thatcher's remark that "There is no such thing as society, there are individual men and women...", which Cameron believes was taken out of context. In order to rebuild the "broken society", he said he wanted "to set free the voluntary sector and social enterprises to deal with the linked problems that blight so many of our communities: drug abuse, family breakdown, poor public space, chaotic home environments, high crime." Upon becoming leader Cameron set up a number of committees, such as the Social Justice Policy Group chaired by Iain Duncan Smith, to generate policy ideas on these issues.

In July 2006 Cameron made a second speech to the Centre for Social Justice in which he highlighted the problem of young offenders and called for more understanding. The News of the World headlined its report of the speech "Hug a hoodie, says Cameron", coining a phrase which came into popular use, although Cameron never used the phrase. Cameron never advocated hugging 'hoodies'.

Cameron has criticised ASBOs as "reacting" to crime, rather than reducing it, and argued that they should be replaced with "challenging community punishments." In the same speech he also argued that young offenders should be shown "a lot more love" and more understanding into why youths commit crime, specifically calling for more youth counselling, education and training. Cameron was mocked by many Labour MPs for the speech, but he received unexpected backing from right-wing peer Norman Tebbit. Cameron has repeatedly defended his argument, saying that although "I understand, you break the law, you get punished" it was important "to understand what's gone wrong in these children's lives."


Cameron has commended the National Health Service, saying it is "vitally important to every family in this country" and "one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century." He has stated his political priorities can be explained in three letters: N.H.S. Upon becoming party leader, he confirmed that the "patient's passport" policy from the 2005 manifesto (a subsidy for private treatment at 50% of the equivalent NHS cost) had been dropped and specifically ruled out converting the NHS to an insurance-based system.

Cameron has pledged to develop policies to make the NHS a "more efficient, more effective and more patient-centred service." He wishes to grant the NHS much greater independence from the Department of Health in order to prevent it being used as a " political football" and to create "greater professional responsibility". He has stated the Conservative party will propose an NHS Independence Bill to this effect in January 2007, and has publicly asked the Labour leadership to support the bill, after he supported Blair's education reforms.


David Cameron has endorsed the government's creation of city academies, unpopular with many Labour backbenchers, as a way of improving standards in deprived areas. He has called on the government to go "further and faster" with the policy, and says that academies should be given even more freedom from central control.

Regarding higher education, Cameron has reversed the Conservative's 2005 election manifesto policy on tuition fees; a future Conservative government under Cameron would not remove the fees currently in place.


Cameron has regularly stressed his green credentials since becoming leader, describing himself as "passionate about our environment." He has argued that "there is a price...for tackling climate change" but it is a "social responsibility to the next generation". He has stated he is committed to achieving the 2010 emissions limit and has announced he would change the current Climate Change Levy to a carbon tax in order to counter global warming. Cameron proposed a Climate Change Bill which would include committing to binding annual carbon reduction targets. However, a memo was leaked to the Labour Party suggested the binding targets proposal may be dropped, and these do not form part of the proposed Bill as of November 2006.

It has been widely publicised that Cameron on occasion cycles to work. However, an official car that followed him carrying his clothes and official documents was photographed by the media, leading to accusations that his bicycling image was "spin". Cameron has since stated that this happened only "once or twice" and has vowed that it will not happen again, now that he has a pannier to carry documents. In the same interview he admitted that since becoming leader of the Conservative Party he is now only able to cycle to work once a week.

David Cameron has also urged people to see An Inconvenient Truth by former US Vice-President Al Gore.

Social issues

Regarding civil partnerships, Cameron has stated that marriage means something "whether you're a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and another man." In a free vote in 2004 he supported the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which gave legal recognition to same-sex couples.

Cameron has stated that the government needs to change social attitudes towards disability by setting an example for the private sector. Under a Conservative government the state would prioritise increasing the number of disabled people employed at Whitehall. Cameron has asked the disability charity Scope to advise on employment policy, claiming it is "morally wrong and economically stupid for five million on incapacity benefit who could work to be left on the scrap-heap." The government has disputed the figures.

Drugs, alcohol and tobacco

Cameron is in favour of drug law review and reform. Cameron voted for recommendation 24 of the Home Affairs Select Committee report: 'The Government's Drugs Policy: Is It Working?', (published on 9 May 2002), which recommended that "the Government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways — including the possibility of legalisation and regulation — to tackle the global drugs dilemma". He has said that drugs policy must be based on evidence and acknowledges that the evidence concerning cannabis has shifted since 2002.

In 2005 Cameron appeared as a guest on BBC 1's Friday Night With Jonathan Ross in which he and presenter Jonathan Ross debated their views on class-A drugs. Ross raised issues about the legalisation of class-A drugs, which Cameron dismissed, saying, "I don't think we should legalise drugs. Much more emphasis on treatment is the key. If you get addicts off the street it helps to collapse the market. The other key is education."

In the past Cameron has smoked cigarettes, though he is now reported to have quit after six attempts. Cameron did not vote in Parliament on the bill that created the Health Act 2006, which introduced a complete smoking ban in enclosed public places in the UK.

Immigration, asylum and integration

On economic immigration, Cameron has said "we think immigration is very good for Britain; we think that there are clear benefits in a modern economy from having both emigration and immigration, but that net immigration has to have a very careful regard to good community relations and the fair provision of public services."

His stated views on asylum have contrasted with his predecessors, particularly Michael Howard, who proposed an annual quota on the total number of asylum seekers entering Britain. Cameron has claimed "I'm passionately committed to giving people who are being tortured and persecuted asylum, and that means not just letting them in, but taking them to our hearts, and feeding and clothing and schooling them".

Cameron has stated that contact between different communities is essential for social integration and as such, the government should ensure that new immigrants learn to speak English.

Foreign policy

Cameron has stated that he believes in "spreading freedom and democracy, and supporting humanitarian intervention" in cases such as the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. However, he claims to not be a neo-conservative because, as a conservative, he recognises "the complexities of human nature, and will always be sceptical of grand schemes to remake the world." He supports multilateralism stating "a country may act alone - but it cannot always succeed alone." He believes multilateralism can take the form of acting through "NATO, the UN, the G8, the EU and other institutions", or through international alliances. Cameron has also argued that "If the West is to help other countries, we must do so from a position of genuine moral authority" and "we must strive above all for legitimacy in what we do."

Cameron has supported the alliance with the United States, viewing it as highly important. He has praised its role in the Second World War and the Cold War, about which he has said "Unlike some, I never had any doubts about whose side I was on". This was interpreted as a knock at sections of the Labour Party, some members of which had expressed support for the former Soviet Union. He has also claimed "we must be steadfast not slavish in how we approach the special relationship", arguing that "questioning the approach of the US administration, trying to learn the lessons of the past five years, does not make you anti-American." Cameron also supports Israel and has described the state as being "a lone democracy in a region that currently boasts no others." He is a member of and has spoken for the Conservative Friends of Israel group. However he criticised the country's 2006 invasion of Lebanon, describing the force used as "disproportionate."

Before becoming leader, he voted in favour of the Iraq war, confirming this stance during an interview on the British TV show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. In defence of the Iraq situation, he stated, "You've got to do what you think is right even if it's unpopular, that's the only thing you can do". Subsequently he supported a motion brought by the SNP and Plaid Cymru on 31 October 2006, calling for an inquiry into the government's conduct of the Iraq war. This was after the government informed the Conservatives that an inquiry would not be accepted in 2007, the initial policy call of the party. The motion was defeated by a margin 25 votes, 273 MPs voting in favour and 298 against. He was criticised for this in editorials in The Sun and The Times newspapers. He was also criticised by some Conservative MPs who claimed it was irresponsible to support an enquiry while British troops were still involved.

Cameron supports the War on Terror. He has praised it for the removal of "two of the world's most repressive regimes", Libya's abandonment of nuclear weapons procurement, and Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon. He has argued "it must be a battle of hearts and minds, as well as force" and that "the threat cannot be negotiated away or appeased - it has to be confronted and overcome". Cameron has accused Iran of encouraging the insurgency in Iraq and "the murder of British troops", and has criticised the regime for supporting Hezbollah.

European Union

Immediately after his election as leader, he restated his pledge to withdraw the party's MEPs from cooperation with the European People's Party (EPP) within the European Parliament, viewing the EPP as excessively federalist. Previously the British Conservative Party had been part of the anti-federalist European Democrats as part of an ED-EPP coalition, but Cameron plans for the ED to break away in order to form a new grouping. Cameron aims to set up a group more focused on the Conservative Party's views, a move that has been resisted by some Conservative MEPs. After much speculation, he announced in July 2006 that Conservative MEPs would withdraw from the EPP in 2009. The stated reason for the delay was that the Conservatives' proposed future alliance partners, the Czech Civic Democratic Party, needed time to form a new domestic coalition in order to form a "eurorealist" grouping in the European Parliament.

Cameron is currently against unilaterally withdrawing from the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy, as some on the Conservative Right have proposed.

Constitutional issues

Cameron is a Unionist although he supports devolution, saying that the Conservatives, "fought against the idea of a Scottish Parliament long after it became clear that it was the settled will of the people." He has also defended the Barnett formula as "Other areas within the UK are subsidised more than Scotland is." He also believes "unionists have to develop better arguments against independence", and that "the case for the Union isn't just economic." Cameron has stated that he wants to address anti-Scottishness in England, "Scotland has certainly not been an occupied or oppressed country these past three hundred years but I recognise that it has not all been a triumphal procession either", and that, "the ignorance of English people about Scots and Scotland", has sometimes meant that Scotland does not get "the respect it deserves."

On the West Lothian question, he has criticised the ability of Scottish MPs to vote on English matters, "We need to make devolution work... one part of devolution that doesn't work is that Scottish MPs can vote on matters that don't affect their own constituents", and has asked the party's Commission on Democracy, led by Kenneth Clarke, to look at possible solutions.

Cameron has announced that he would scrap the Human Rights Act 1998 which came into force in 2000. Instead, it would be replaced with a Bill of Rights, based on "British needs and traditions". However, he has said that the country would remain within the European Court of Human Rights, on which the Human Rights Act is based.

He has also called for investigations into ministerial misconduct to be a "genuinely independent mechanism" after cabinet minister Tessa Jowell was part of a fraud scandal. Additionally, in order to "clean up", he says ministers should not be allowed to set their expenses or salaries. Cameron has also called for a reduction in the number of Members of Parliaments in the House of Commons.

ID cards

Cameron has spoken out against identity cards on a number of occasions. He has also confirmed that under a future Conservative government the present plans for ID cards would be scrapped.

Fox hunting

Cameron is in favour of overturning the ban on fox-hunting and has stated that a Conservative government under his leadership would give Parliament time for a free vote on the issue. He himself has been fox-hunting on several occasions. . There is a history of hunting in his mother's family- her grandfather Sir William Mount, 1st Baronet fell off his horse after having a heart attack and was pronounced dead whilst out hunting with the South Berks hunt in 1930.

Criticism of other parties and politicians

Cameron has accused the United Kingdom Independence Party of being "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly," leading UKIP leader Nigel Farage to demand an apology for the remarks. Right-wing Conservative MP Bob Spink also criticised the remarks, as did the The Daily Telegraph.

Cameron has criticised Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown for being "an analogue politician in a digital age" and repeatedly refers to him as "the roadblock to reform". He has also said that John Prescott "clearly looks a fool" in light of allegations of ministerial misconduct. During a speech to the Ethnic Media Conference on 29 November 2006 Cameron also described Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, as an "ageing far left politician" in reference to Livingstone's views on multiculturalism.

Criticism of Cameron

Presentation and policies

Some of Cameron's critics are unhappy with the Conservative Party's new emphasis and its presentation. They dislike his use of language and emphasis on style as much as substance, seeing it as the stance of an anti-politician. New Statesman has unfavourably likened his "new style of politics" to Tony Blair's early leadership years. Cameron has been accused of playing excessive attention to image. ITV News broadcast footage from the 2006 Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth which showed Cameron wearing four different sets of clothes within the space of a few hours, On the right, Peter Hitchens has written that, "Mr Cameron has abandoned the last significant difference between his party and the established left", by prioritising publicly-funded government services. Norman Tebbit has likened Cameron to Pol Pot, "intent on purging even the memory of Thatcherism before building a New Modern Compassionate Green Globally Aware Party". Cameron has responded to criticism from Hitchens by branding him a "maniac", according to Hitchens himself in his Mail on Sunday column..

Cameron was characterised as " Dave the Chameleon", who would change what he said to match the expectations of his audience, in a Labour Party Political Broadcast. Cameron later claimed that the broadcast had become his daughter's "favourite video".

Allegations of social elitism

The Guardian has accused Cameron of relying on, "the most prestigious of old-boy networks in his attempt to return the Tories to power", pointing out that three members of his shadow cabinet and 15 members of his front bench team are " Old Etonians". Similarly, The Sunday Times has commented that "David Cameron has more Etonians around him than any leader since Macmillan" and asked whether he can "represent Britain from such a narrow base." Cabinet minister Hazel Blears has said of Cameron "You have to wonder about a man who surrounds himself with so many people who went to the same school. I’m pretty sure I don’t want 21st-century Britain run by people who went to just one school". Cameron's background was the subject, in part, of a Dispatches programme on March 2007 on Channel 4 written and presented by Peter Hitchens.

In a similar way, Cameron's "A-List" of prospective Parliamentary Candidates has been attacked by members of his party. One has been noted that of declared members of the A-List, there are more people from Kensington and Chelsea than from Yorkshire and Lancashire combined. The "A-List" policy has now been discontinued in favour of gender balanced final short lists.

Satire and trivia

Cameron's relatively young age and inexperience before becoming leader have invited satirical comparison with Blair. Private Eye soon published a picture of both leaders on their front cover, with the caption " World's first face transplant a success."

Cameron is reported to be known to friends and family as 'Dave' rather than David, although he invariably uses 'David' in public. However, critics of Cameron often refer to him as "Call me Dave" in an attempt to imply false populism in the same way as "Call me Tony" was used in 1997. The Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein has condemned those who attempt to belittle Cameron by calling him 'Dave'.

On 2 February 2006 he was voted into 92nd place in a poll of New Woman magazine readers to determine the 100 sexiest men in the world. Cameron came in at second place, just behind the number one Daniel Craig, in GQ Magazine's 2007 list of the most stylish men.

On 10 November 2006 it was also reported that Cameron's, "wide facial shape, large eyes and soft features", gives him the ideal natural physical appearance to be a comedian and to make people laugh.

David Cameron's recreations are listed in Who's Who as tennis, bridge and cooking.

Cameron holds the record for the shortest Budget response in the House of Commons in recent times, at eight minutes and thirty seconds.

On 19 March 2007, Cameron was forced to remove the wind turbine installed on his house's roof because it voided planning permission.

Offices held

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Shaun Woodward
Member of Parliament for Witney
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Howard
Leader of the British Conservative Party
Leader of the Opposition
Retrieved from " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Cameron"