Who made David Cameron prime minister (again)?

The man who helped destroy Libya has no right to lecture Israel – or represent Britain on the world stage.

Tim Black

Tim Black

Topics Politics UK World

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David – sorry, Lord – Cameron is certainly revelling in his political resurrection as Britain’s foreign secretary. The former prime minister is currently bestriding the world as if he’s, well, the current prime minister.

Fresh from delivering a state-of-the-world address on NATO’s 75th birthday last week, Cameron is now acting the global statesman in the US. As part of an effort to drum up support for Ukraine stateside – and help finally push a new aid package through Congress – he’s already held court with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. And he is set to meet other power brokers later today, including US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

Given the glowing puff pieces now heading Cameron’s way, it seems Britain’s centrist media class is swooning, too. The Financial Times, that bible of elite orthodoxy, is toasting Cameron’s return to ‘the world stage’. The New Statesman, meanwhile, has been busy praising Cameron’s ‘effortless authority’ after slipping ‘back into the role of representing Britain’.

This is certainly bad news for Britain’s actual PM, Rishi Sunak. He hastily ennobled Cameron and brought him back into public office last November in an effort to bolster his flailing administration’s authority. Sunak clearly – and rightly – thought that Cameron’s return would play well with Britain’s media elites. It was meant to suggest that ‘serious’, ‘grown-up’ politics was back, after the turbulence of Boris Johnson’s reign and Liz Truss’s brief but chaotic tenure.

Yet bringing Cameron back has actually undermined Sunak’s authority. As Cameron struts his stuff at international conferences, Sunak has been left looking like he is surplus to requirements, particularly given how much international conflicts now shape domestic politics. A couple of weeks ago, one Tory MP even accidentally addressed Cameron as ‘prime minister’ during a meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers – such is the sense that Sunak has demoted himself and handed the keys to Cameron.

But Cameron’s prominence, indeed pre-eminence, is even worse news for the rest of us. As war rages in Ukraine and Gaza, and new global alliances upend the post-Cold War order, international affairs have rarely been so important. And in these serious, geopolitically challenging times, Cameron is the last person we should want representing Britain to the world.

Cameron is a slick but profoundly superficial operator. Like his New Labour predecessors, he has always viewed foreign policy as little more than a PR exercise, a chance to advertise his own supposed moral purpose. We saw this in action in 2011, when Cameron and French president Nicolas Sarkozy led the disastrous military intervention in Libya. Getting rid of a ‘baddie’ like Colonel Gaddafi certainly made Cameron feel virtuous – in 2014, he called Libya his ‘happy place’. But it also led to the catastrophic implosion of Libya, unleashing forces that are still tearing the wider region apart.

What’s more, Cameron has often turned his narcissistic, preening gaze on Israel. He has always seen attacking the Jewish State as an easy way to score points with the right-thinking classes. As far back as 2010, using tropes now all-too-familiar among the anti-Israel set, he told MPs that Israel was running ‘a giant open prison in Gaza’. He even repeated this absurd falsehood in the Turkish capital of Ankara a few weeks later, when speaking to business leaders. Moralistic posing has always been his way.

Now he is, once again, giving free rein to these dangerous, moralistic impulses in the case of Israel’s war against Hamas. That Cameron has recently seen fit to lecture Israel about civilian casualties – civilian casualties that the IDF is going to great lengths to avoid, even as Hamas uses its own people as human shields – is particularly grotesque, given Cameron’s own bloody foreign misadventures in office. Indeed, his recent comments, about Britain’s support for Israel not being ‘unconditional’, were in response to the awful, accidental bombing of seven aid workers by the IDF. And yet, during NATO’s strikes on Libya in 2011, rebels, ambulance crew and civilians were accidentally killed – in what was then downplayed as ‘friendly fire’.

But the chattering classes have short memories, it seems. Cameron’s posturing over Gaza is being predictably lapped up. Those on the liberal-left, many of whom claimed to loathe him as PM, are now talking him up as if he’s a great statesman, all because he is markedly more hostile to Israel than his predecessors.

David Cameron’s return to the world stage may be warming the hearts of the right-thinking classes, but it should chill the rest of us. His vapid, virtue-signalling foreign policy has already ripped apart Libya and unleashed horrors across that part of the world. We really can’t allow Dave to do any more damage.

Tim Black is a spiked columnist.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics UK World


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