He’s well-known for waving and likes to give the ‘thumbs up’. Looking for the ‘alternative vote’, the Conservative Party’s top man is campaigning on policies centering around ‘delivering the Conservative dream’: strong leadership, a clear economic plan and a brighter, more secure future. But who is David Cameron?
Point of view
"We offer a good life for those willing to try, because we're the party of the working people."
As Britain prepares for its closest election race since the 1970s, we take a more in-depth look at the highs and lows of the man in charge of the Conservatives.
At the launch of his party’s manifesto for the 2015 general election, Cameron decided not to go down the common route of negative campaigning, choosing instead to focus on what the Conservatives can offer voters.
So what are the main points of the Conservative Party manifesto?
‘Party of the working people’
In an effort to attract voters who may have deserted in favour of arch-rivals Labour or the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and to break the deadlock evidenced in opinion polls, Cameron is re-branding the Conservatives as ‘the party of the working people.’
“We offer a good life for those willing to try, because we’re the party of the working people,” he told supporters at the manifesto launch.
A return to Thatcher’s policies?
Interestingly, he’s going after the working class vote by using policies employed by the late Margaret Thatcher, former Conservative Party leader and Britain’s first female prime minister. She may have been a controversial figure, but policies Cameron promises to adopt, such as extending the right to buy scheme and turning the economy around so Great Britain doesn’t have to be “a steadily declining, once-great nation,” helped the Iron Lady win three elections.
Cameron has, like UKIP, promised to hold a referendum on continued EU membership. However, unlike Nigel Farage’s party, he says he is keen for Britain to remain within the EU. An in/out referendum on membership would be held by the end of 2017, if the Conservatives win the May election.
How does Cameron want to be seen?
The National Health Service
Outside of his manifesto, Cameron is anxious to show support for the British healthcare system.
The NHS may be the cornerstone of the opposition’s campaign but for years David Cameron has also spoken passionately of its value. On several occasions he has referenced the care for his son, Ivan, received until his untimely death at the age of six.
His most-recent promise concerning the Service is for a ‘truly seven-day’ NHS, if his Conservative Party is returned to power in May.
Competence vs Chaos
One of the key catchphrases of Cameron’s 2015 election campaign has been choosing ‘competence’ (as he sees the Conservatives) over ‘chaos’ (the opposing parties).
With 100 days to go to the election - I'll be on @BBCr4today at 810am, explaining why the choice is between competence and chaos.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) January 27, 2015
A fan of popular culture, a man of the people
Ever-keen to prove he is at one with the British public, David Cameron has on several occasions made references to popular culture.
Too many tweets…
But his desire to impress has also landed him in some sticky situations. For example, in 2009, before joining Twitter, Cameron gave that famous interview to Absolute Radio.
He later apologised for swearing, although watchdog Ofcom went on to rule he did not breach regulations.
Then there was the episode, ahead of the Scottish referendum on independence, when Cameron didn’t quite swear… Or did he? The Herald Scotland summed up the situation:
“A rather abstruse semantic debate ensued over whether “effing” is the same as the f-word. One Tory aide was anxious to point out that “‘effing’ isn’t a swear word, though I think most people got his drift. I supposed the Prime Minister was trying to sound sincere, using the language of the street.”
And more recently, the Game of Thrones incident (Warning: if you haven’t finished season one, don’t watch the video).
WATCH: David Cameron admits his favourite Game of Thrones character is Ned Stark http://bzfd.it/1MGuY5CPosted by BuzzFeed Brews on Monday, 16 March 2015
Keeping up with the Camerons
In March 2015, Cameron made what was perhaps the most unusual claim to date about his personal life. He told a magazine interviewer he was related to Kim Kardashian-West, of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ fame. The PM is, he says, thirteenth cousin to the celebrity. Kardashian-West, who is married to rapper Kanye West, is perhaps most famous for starring in a leaked sex tape.
A serious figure, taking a stand
Throughout his five-year term, David Cameron seems to have been keen to show he is a well-respected figure of authority. For example, in October 2014, his reaction to the UK being landed with a surprise 1.7-billion-pound EU budget bill was to take a firm stand, instantly:
He labelled the EU’s bombshell demand “an appalling way to behave,” saying it “certainly didn’t help make a strong case for Britain to remain in the EU.”
“I am not paying that bill on the 1st of December,” he told a press conference in Brussels, adding “If people think I am, then they have another thing coming.”
However, his desire to appear authoritative has, on occasion, backfired. In March 2014, his tweeted selfie taking a phone call with US President, Barack Obama, perhaps didn’t produce the reaction he may have been expecting.
Which leads to…
He, apparently, ignored his own advice and joined Twitter in January 2010. But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Conservative leader. His account has been involved in a number of delicate situations.
For example, his account once auto-followed a high-class escort agency and he hadn’t quite got the hang of verified accounts when he included a spoof Ian Duncan Smith account to back up a point about a benefits cap.
But, the road has not always been rocky. Perhaps aptly, given his penchant for popular culture, Cameron’s most-popular tweet to-date is a picture of him with boy band One Direction following a 2013 cameo for Comic Relief.
The centre-left Labour opposition party often claims Cameron’s privileged background means he’s out of touch with much of the British public. His own, special style of hotdog-eating may, for some, add some weight to their charge.
However, in March 2015 leaders’ interviews with Jeremy Paxman (in which Cameron came out marginally ahead), Labour leader Ed Miliband praised Cameron’s courage in welcoming the legalisation of gay marriage, despite adverse views within his party.
Lack of credibility
In the same interview, however, Paxman criticised a “lack of credibility” where Cameron’s promises concerning VAT are concerned. Cameron had pledged not to raise VAT, until he raised it.
These have plagued Cameron for some time. He eventually conceded he, in fact, could not work on a zero-hours contract.
Soundbites from the election campaign
Most polls suggest Cameron is putting up a clear and strong fight in the 2015 campaign. However, he’s also let slip some less-than-clear messages, such as these, for example:
“This buccaneering, world-beating, can-do country, we can do it all over again.”- Manifesto launch, April 2015.
“(Shadow Chancellor) Ed Balls saying this is some kind of joke is, I think, frankly, one of the most appalling things I have heard in this election campaign so far.” – denouncing Ed Balls’ ‘jokey note’ about there being no money left, April 2015.
Lack of support among BME voters
On a more serious note, in the last election the Conservatives only won 16 percent of black and minority ethnic (BME) votes and, although Labour seems to have lost some of its hold over the demographic, Cameron still has some ground to gain.
Be careful what you say…
One vocal critic of many of the UK’s leading politicians has been Cassetteboy. The YouTube sensation is famous for cutting and pasting together different segments of politicians’ speeches to make parody videos. His editing skills end in MPs appearing to contradict their own policies. Hilarious viewing for many who’ve notched up 5.1 million views of the video.
Let the beat drop…