I can't imagine that it would surprise anyone to learn that David Cameron is a highly enthusiastic supporter of and proactive cheerleader for the economic, socio-political experiment that we all refer to as the European Union, although to be fair, our current Prime Minister has never pretended to be anything else but an avid Europhile.
However, the unofficial disclosure this week that Mr Cameron's entire EU referendum strategy will be based around his creating a fear factor about a potential British withdrawal from the EU, as opposed to him being able to announce that he had successfully wrung a host of meaningful concessions from our European partners, is disappointing to say the least, but not at all surprising, when one considers his previous history on other such vitally important matters.
After all, this is the same David Cameron who has only recently won a general election on the back of an almost wholly negative election campaign, which saw him and his party scare the living daylights out of the English electorate, at the prospect of a Labour government being held hostage by fifty-odd Scottish National Party MPs. The same David Cameron who used a similar message of potential economic ruin to fatally undermine the SNP's own Independence referendum campaign; and the same David Cameron who has consistently warned that the UK will go to economic hell in a rickety handcart unless he's allowed to impose the most swingeing sort of public sector cuts on the neediest of our nation's citizens.
This is the David Cameron who promoted the idea of the Big Society, as a means of having everyday civic-minded people carry out some vital public services for free, thereby allowing his government to reduce public expenditure on them, thus mitigating the inevitable loss of services to their local communities. At the same time, this is also the David Cameron who introduced the Bedroom Tax, which was purportedly intended to help reorganise social housing stocks to help alleviate shortages within the market caused by under-occupancy of larger properties by single person households. Unfortunately, as with so many of Mr Cameron's big ideas, not only was the Bedroom Tax generally unsuccessful in releasing large numbers of bigger homes into the market, but where such downsizing did occur it often came with an additional cost to the public purse, thus defeating the entire object of the exercise.
One only has to look at the outcome resulting from David Cameron's more recent Help To Buy scheme, which although laudable, has achieved little, other than to further limit accessibility to the housing market and increase the personal indebtedness of those few participants who could afford to apply for inclusion in the scheme. With the odd few exceptions, house prices in the UK have been steadily increasing month on month, thereby putting home ownership out of the reach of an increasing number of first-time buyers, whether the Help To Buy scheme applies or not. With fewer people able to get on the property ladder due to rising prices, it is almost inevitable that most properties will eventually be sold for use in the rental market, which in turn will force up rental costs, which then in turn has an adverse effect on housing and council tax benefit claims, thereby making the entire strategy yet another Cameron failure.
It is hardly rocket science to recognise that low paid, part-time jobs will almost inevitably have a largely negative effect on the public purse, if only because they don't generate tax, or more likely that low wage workers will inevitably be entitled to child tax credits, working tax credits, council tax and/or housing benefits, all of which help raise the country's overall welfare spending yet again. When one considers then that David Cameron and his party were elected to address such public expenditure issues, the almost incalculable national debt and the escalating deficit, just how many voters realised that it was his own party's drive for austerity that was inadvertently causing a major part of the problem, by effectively subsidising low wage employers, who get a cheap workforce at the governments, or more crucially at the taxpayers expense?
In a similar fashion, hasn't David Cameron's decision to triple student tuition fees simply helped to fuel the level of debt that he and his Conservative colleagues profess to despise and that they've vowed to eliminate by cutting back on the most vitally needed public services? Notwithstanding the millions of pounds that are doubtless lost to overseas students who skip the country leaving their debts behind (£43 million, at the last count), or the foreign governments who refuse to repay what their nationals owe the British Exchequer, what about the billions in home grown debt that our native students have amassed and that will almost certainly never be repaid. If 40-50 or even 60% of students are unable to repay some or all of their £30,000+ debts, then what happens then? Assuming they don't generate a salary that allows them to repay their debts, then it doesn't seem likely that they'll ever afford a mortgage either; and even if they do, will they be continually hounded by the government, or more likely by debt collectors until such time as their tuition fees debt is settled in full?
Clearly, the colleges and universities who are being paid the student fees are doing very nicely out of the deal, allowing them to expand, buy up local housing stock, build new accommodation blocks and campuses, as well as pay very good rates of pay to their teaching staff, but does anyone else actually benefit from the scheme? The students certainly don't, as they end up carrying high levels of debt almost as soon as they leave full-time education. The taxpayer doesn't benefit, as they're unlikely to see any meaningful return on their investment anyway, as it's all part of overall government spending. Local homeowners or homebuyers won't see a major benefit, other than to see their local housing stocks either being devalued by high volumes of student accommodation, or conversely being priced out of the local market by cash rich colleges or universities that are greedy to acquire more student housing.
Moving on though. Let us not forget that this is the same David Cameron who has personally overseen the reduction and under-funding of our country's armed forces since 2010, at exactly the time that their numbers, their expertise, their professionalism and their equipping is most badly needed by the UK, bearing in mind the dangers that we face in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. This is the same David Cameron who authorised the destruction of billions of pounds worth of RAF reconnaissance aircraft, only then to have countless Russian warplanes and submarines begin testing our international borders. The same David Cameron who was subsequently forced to ask our NATO allies if we could borrow their surveillance assets in order to counter these overt Russian incursions.
This will be the same David Cameron who has placed his own personal political legacy above the rights and needs of his own country's people, by insisting that the UK gives away 0.7% of its GDP in Foreign Aid, monies that are too often being borrowed from the markets and on which interest is being paid. This is the David Cameron that has committed the country to paying out monies that it doesn't actually have and that no other developed nation currently matches, purely in an act of personal political vanity that benefits the few, rather than the many. No doubt it will be reassuring for most British taxpayers to know that their hard earned monies are being used to buy weapons, to build luxurious presidential palaces, to purchase executive jets, to build roads that don't actually go anywhere, to fund aspiring foreign pop groups, or for tens of millions of pounds to simply be deposited in secretive bank accounts?
It's also worth remembering of course that this is the same David Cameron who authorised the bombing of Libya and through that military action the removal of Colonel Gadaffi, which in turn has resulted in the almost complete breakdown of law and order in that pivotal country. So, rather than bringing peace, stability or any other recognisable form of democratic government to that troubled country, Mr Cameron's ill-advised military adventure has caused a fracturing of that state, thereby allowing various criminal gangs, Al Qaeda, IS and any number of individual tribal groups to seize control of various areas. Little wonder then that David Cameron and other European leaders are now having to deal with an almost biblical refugee crisis in the Mediterranean that the likes of Italy, France and the UK helped to create in the first place.
Related to this same military adventurism, in the past few days we have all watched aghast as up to 30 of our fellow citizens have been mercilessly slaughtered while they were on holiday in the Tunisian resort of Sousse, apparently at the hands of a local follower of Islamic State. Certainly, this brutal terrorist group, based around the Syrian city of Raqqa, have claimed responsibility for the bloody outrage; and may in fact have played some part in providing the perpetrator with weapons or logistical support. In response, David Cameron has declared that western democracies are "at war" with this particular Islamic death cult, yet all that he seems to offer in response to their murderous outrage is words.
There was a time when a militarily strong Britain would have responded to such an outrage with a show of martial strength, an "eye for an eye", if you will, against those who claimed to have carried out the bloody act, just as the kingdom of Jordan did, when one of its pilots was murdered by IS. One cannot imagine that the likes of Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, or any of those other neighbouring Arab states would have simply offered reassuring words as a national response to such an unwarranted assault on their citizens, but in all likelihood they would have had military assets in the air within hours of such an atrocity taking place.
But then again, it's worth remembering that this is David Cameron we're talking about, a politician whose personal and political judgement is about as flawed as it can possibly be. After all, this is the man who has helped undermine our fighting forces, at exactly the moments that we require them to be strong. A man whose own economic thinking is highly questionable at best; and who would put the financial interest of anonymous foreigners above those of his own people. A man who would attempt to undermine the sanctity and status of a traditional heterosexual relationship within society by enacting legislation over the heads of the majority of the British public. A man, who through his own weakness and prevarication will almost certainly be responsible for the end of a 300 year social, political and economic union that was once the envy of the world.
Although it's probably true to say that David Cameron is a thoroughly decent man, husband and father, one suspects that just like his political predecessors William Hague, Michael Howard, John Major and Iain Duncan Smith, British history will not reflect well on his time as Conservative party leader, if only because he single-handedly managed to annoy as many party members as he managed to please. Along with his Prime Ministerial predecessors, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown it seems highly unlikely that history will recall him as some great political colossus striding across the world stage, but probably more like an irritating minor player who came, who saw, who tinkered about, who fucked things up and who left!