The Prime Minister delivered a stirring speech on Sunday. The world, he warned, “is in one of the most dangerous periods we’ve ever known”. True and truly terrifying.

But then Rishi Sunak projected himself as the leader we need to guide us safely through this time. Oh dear. Someone tell him (again) that most voters feel he lacks political acumen and perspicacity. He fast-tracked David Cameron into the Lords and appointed him Foreign Secretary – an act of such folly that even some ardent Tories recoiled when it was announced.

Here is Stephen Daisley, a columnist for the Scottish Daily Mail, writing in The Spectator: “This is a man with astonishingly rotten political judgement. The passage of time and the absurdities and indignities of the last seven years may have had a Lethean effect on our collective consciousness, but Cameron was a fount of error and ineptitude in government. Like all public schoolboys, he deploys that Jedi mind trick to convince the hoi polloi he is calm, in charge and following a plan. In fact, he is like so many of his class, a chancer.”

Couldn’t have put it more caustically myself. In the six months since then, he has indeed tried to come across as a serious, seasoned politician who strides the globe with elan. But to many of us, he is still one of the worst prime ministers we have ever had; an opportunist who, after leaving office, disgraced himself; and a poseur who relishes the trappings of his grand new position. Last month, The Mirror revealed that he had toured Central Asia in a hired luxury jet worth an estimated £42m. He must think he’s worth it.

Sceptics like me see a grandee with expensive tastes and an inflated ego who doesn’t understand changing global relationships, and can’t act effectively or knowledgeably, or indeed, consistently.

Some observers would disagree. The BBC’s James Lansdale, for example, enthuses: “Lord Cameron does bring political heft to the Foreign Office. He may be the fourth foreign secretary in as many years – and the eighth in total since 2010 when the Tories took power – but Lord Cameron is well known on the international stage.”

Professor Christopher Phillips and Tim Eaton of Chatham House think Cameron is a terrific choice: “With the newly ennobled peer free of constituency obligations and the House of Commons, Cameron has injected energy and purpose into Britain’s international affairs. Nowhere has this seemed more apparent than with the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, in which Cameron has sought to play a more prominent role.”

To these commentators, I say: being internationally known is not an achievement; not being answerable to the Commons makes him democratically unaccountable; and finally, Gaza has exposed and magnified Cameron’s deficiencies. In the past few weeks, he has refused to follow the example of the US, which warned it would withhold some arms sales to Israel, because that “would only strengthen Hamas”. Yet he expressed concern about a ground offensive on Rafah. And he has backed the creation of a sustainable Palestinian state. Confused? Join the queue.

Let’s peer into the musty chest holding Cameron’s past record. In 2011, as prime minister, Cameron joined a coalition to bring down Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi. Then, just as Tony Blair and George W Bush did in Iraq, they left. Barack Obama called it “a shitshow”. Libya was turned into a failed state. Many undocumented migrants sail to Europe from there.

Later, Cameron refused to give evidence to a select committee looking into this debacle and blamed the Libyan people for not seizing the gift of democracy. (Posh-boy syndrome again.)

In 2013 he lost a Commons vote on whether to bomb Syrian forces after they used chemical weapons. That political catastrophe enabled Russia’s influence in the Middle East. After 2010, he tried to woo China. This week, Lord Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong described these attempts as “demeaning”, “ludicrous” and “pathetic”.

And then came Brexit. Cameron called the referendum without due care and consideration. He assumed Remain would win. Our country was broken and we are still enduring the consequences of his vanities and languor.

The austerity programme initiated by Cameron and George Osborne was a crime against the neediest and an assault on our public services. Out of office, Cameron was embroiled in a lobbying row during the pandemic. That, too, had been washed away easily.

Cameron asked to meet me when he was the Tory leader. He wanted to learn more about multiculturalism. His curiosity felt inauthentic and his engagement slight, but he was a good performer. That’s what he is, what he does. Sunak has fallen for it. The rest of us should be smarter and more wary.

QOSHE - Rishi Sunak has fallen for David Cameron – the rest of us should be more wary - Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
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Rishi Sunak has fallen for David Cameron – the rest of us should be more wary

24 6
15.05.2024

The Prime Minister delivered a stirring speech on Sunday. The world, he warned, “is in one of the most dangerous periods we’ve ever known”. True and truly terrifying.

But then Rishi Sunak projected himself as the leader we need to guide us safely through this time. Oh dear. Someone tell him (again) that most voters feel he lacks political acumen and perspicacity. He fast-tracked David Cameron into the Lords and appointed him Foreign Secretary – an act of such folly that even some ardent Tories recoiled when it was announced.

Here is Stephen Daisley, a columnist for the Scottish Daily Mail, writing in The Spectator: “This is a man with astonishingly rotten political judgement. The passage of time and the absurdities and indignities of the last seven years may have had a Lethean effect on our collective consciousness, but Cameron was a fount of error and ineptitude in government. Like all public schoolboys, he deploys that Jedi mind trick to convince the hoi polloi he is calm, in charge and following a plan. In fact, he is like so many of his class, a chancer.”

Couldn’t have put it more caustically myself. In the six months since........

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