On Monday 28th November 2016, Parliament Street welcomed Professor Tim Bale of Queen Mary University of London, to Committee Room in the House of Commons as the keynote speaker for our annual lecture. He is also the author of The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron and Five Year Mission: The Labour Party Under Ed Miliband
The topic of the talk was David Cameron’s legacy and how he ranks against the other post-war Prime Ministers. As a natural and fluid speaker Professor Bale gave an unbiased and healthily non-partisan assessment of David Cameron’s premiership, which was as informative as it was enthralling.
The analysis embodied a range of areas beyond the inevitable shadow cast by Brexit, over the other achievements and failures of Cameron’s six years in Number Ten. Professor Bale drew attention towards David Cameron’s success at maintaining the existence of the Union with Scotland, however, he remarked that catastrophe the campaign caused for the Labour Party there was more a fortunate unforeseen consequence, rather than a brilliantly thought out political manoeuvre. Beyond this, Professor Bale also noted that the question of the British Union may remain a stain on Cameron’s legacy as Prime Minister in years to come, should Brexit lead to the secession of Northern Ireland or Scotland.
As for the coup de grace of David Cameron’s time in Number Ten, Professor Bale spoke of howhe had no alternative to holding the EU referendum as he gave himself no alternative. That even though he won a majority he struggled to maintain party unity without settling the matter of Europe and thus cornered himself into holding the referendum. Professor Bale gave no indication of personal feelings towards the referendum result but spoke of how it will be the event that Cameron shall be remembered for most. In addition to this he compared David Cameron’s ratings upon leaving office against previous Prime Ministers when they left office and judged that on the whole his ratings were not too terrible, but that in time they may go either up or down when the public looks back and reflects on his premiership.
The event was well attended and Professor Bale interacted well with the audience, answering questions thoughtfully and with interesting opinions, such as his response to the whether or not Steve Hilton was the Architect of “Cameronism” being that he believed David Cameron was never a great believer in Hilton’s vision of modernisation. The lecture was thoroughly enjoyable and Parliament Street thanks Professor Tim Bale for delivering his talk.