David Cameron was the most feminist prime minister before Theresa May, which helps explain why he won the “Toady of the Year” award four years in succession, details here. In his auto-biography he wrote admiringly of Harriet Harman, and didn’t ctiticise her once.
David Cameron has revealed he was left red-faced by the diaries of a Tory MP’s wife that detail his personal feuds, drinking and sex jokes, admitting: “It’s kind of embarrassing.”
The former prime minister insisted that he could not recall an incident described by Sasha Swire, wife of the MP Sir Hugo Swire, in which he allegedly joked that her perfume made him want to push her “into the bushes and give you one”.
But in an interview with Times Radio to be broadcast today — in which he also called for Jeremy Hunt to return to frontline politics — he had his head in his hands as he said that the betrayal by longstanding friends was not what you wanted “splashed all over the place”.
Lady Swire’s memoir, serialised in The Times, has sent shock waves through the Cameron clique, describing “Dave”, his wife, Samantha, and colleagues including George Osborne, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson in their most private moments.
The Secret Diary of an MP’s Wife recounts a number of holidays and dinners and even the night Mr Cameron resigned as prime minister after the Brexit referendum in June 2016.
In his first public remarks on the book, Mr Cameron said: “Look. Of course, it’s kind of . . . it’s embarrassing when you have things you say in private and do in private, sort of splashed all over the place, and of course you’d rather that didn’t happen.
“I suppose the truth is that if you want respect for your privacy and people not questioning your character and private life and all the rest of it, then politics probably isn’t the career for you.”
Lady Swire claims that Mr Cameron insisted she go behind him on a coastal walk because “the scent you are wearing is affecting my pheromones. It makes me want to grab you and push you into the bushes and give you one.”
Mr Cameron said: “I don’t recall that conversation . . . if someone wrote down all your banter in private over the years, there probably might be a few bits and pieces that weren’t very flattering.”
In the interview, Mr Cameron also said that Mr Johnson should not fear “tall poppies” in his cabinet and said he hoped Mr Hunt’s talent would not be “lost to politics for ever”.
Amid widespread criticism of the calibre of the present cabinet, the former prime minister said it was good to have “big beasts” in the top team.
Mr Cameron warned that the Conservatives risked appearing less “socially inclusive and progressive” in pursuit of Brexit. He also revealed that he spent lockdown working in a food bank and that his daughter, Nancy, 16, is an environmental activist and wants him to cut down on meat.
The rivalry between Mr Cameron and Mr Johnson, both Old Etonians, dates back years and they fell out dramatically after Mr Johnson supported Leave in the 2016 referendum.
Most prominent supporters of Mr Cameron have since left the cabinet and in many cases parliament. Mr Hunt, who was defeated by Mr Johnson for the Tory leadership last year, lost his job as foreign secretary and is chairman of the health select committee.
Mr Cameron said Britain would be better served with a more heavyweight cabinet. In his first major interview publicising the paperback edition of his memoirs, For The Record, he said: “My approach was . . . I didn’t fear the tall poppies”, pointing to veterans including Lord Clarke of Nottingham, Lord Hague of Richmond, Sir George Young and Sir Iain Duncan Smith who served in his early cabinets.
He declined to confirm whether he voted for Mr Hunt to be leader, but, pressed on whether he thought his friend should be back in the cabinet, said: “Jeremy is hugely capable. I hope his talent isn’t lost to politics for ever.”
Mr Cameron also took a swipe at Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, with whom he clashed when Mr Cummings worked for Mr Gove. “Well I did sack him twice but he kept coming back. We didn’t necessarily hit it off but he’s a man of great, I mean he’s very clever, he is very able.
“Perhaps if he’s your right-hand man and you’re the prime minister that’s the best place for him. It’s just, he wasn’t my right-hand man, he was someone else’s, and it was no end of trouble.”
Mr Cameron also suggested that he would have taken a more hands-on approach in the pandemic, following criticism that Mr Johnson missed five Cobra meetings as the crisis began.
As prime minister he set up the Threats, Hazards, Resilience and Contingencies committee which he says put the threat of a pandemic “on the radar”, but conceded that it was too focused on a flu outbreak. He rejected the idea that years of austerity and a failure to reform social care contributed to the high death toll in care homes.
Mr Cameron, who was close to President Obama, did not reserve his criticism for domestic issues. He said that “Trump drives everyone mad, he certainly drives me mad”. Asked which candidate for the presidency would be best for Britain, he added: “If you want to see global action on climate change, if you want to see action to continue to deal with the scourge of global poverty, if you want to see a promotion of trade and anti-protectionism, I mean it’s hard to argue that Donald Trump is good for those things.”
In a new foreword to his memoir, Mr Cameron acknowledges that his effort to embrace China while in office may have failed, asking: “Was that misguided, or even counterproductive?”
Having begun his leadership of the Tories in 2005 by hugging a huskie and installing a wind turbine on his London home, Mr Cameron’s green campaigning has been taken up by his daughter Nancy. “She . . . went on one of the big marches, and I was applauding her for caring about it and for marching but sort of my worry is that Extinction Rebellion are asking the impossible.”
During the lockdown his wife, Samantha, had been “battling to save” her fashion business, while he homeschooled their three children. “I worked for the Chipping Norton Food Bank, actually, one or two days a week, which was great to do something to help people who were really isolated.”