ALL IN THE FAMILY: He’s been out of office for a few weeks, but former British Prime Minister David Cameron is still top of mind for some people, in particular his sister-in-law Emily Sheffield, deputy editor of British Vogue.
Sheffield has written a paean to Cameron, the husband of her elder sister Samantha, in the latest edition of The Spectator, the British conservative weekly. She urges Theresa May, the current prime minister, and others, to respect the work he’s done, rather than dismiss him as a spoilt, privileged leader.
“To the media and the electorate he was the Prime Minister. To me, he was also my sister’s husband, who loved and protected her through truly terrible times,” writes Sheffield in the title’s Diary column.
“I saw him weep over the body of his son, my nephew. [The Camerons’ disabled eldest son Ivan died a year before Cameron became prime minister.] A brother-in-law who didn’t send me remonstrations the day my Instagram of his bare feet made national news, but instead a very funny text. Who has been endlessly generous, whose natural prerogative is to seek out the positive; who far from chillaxing [that ridiculous jibe] is an intensely hardworking, dedicated politician, a modernizer. Who will forgive his friends even as I beg him not to.”
Sheffield admits that every barb against Cameron “stings a little,” although what she deplores most is the “current casual denigration of his government’s achievements; a suggestion that the reign of the Camerons was about posh boys with vanity projects. That has been encouraged by the new Prime Minister’s purge.”
May has retained only a handful of ministers from the Cameron government, and sees herself as a middle-class supporter of ordinary Britons, in contrast to Cameron’s public image as an upper-class, clubby type whose circle of advisers was restricted to old friends from Eton and Oxford.
Sheffield goes on to list the achievements of Cameron’s government in areas such as prison reform and plans to revive industry in northern England.
She also warns May and her team of being too judgmental of their predecessors, writing: “They will come for you, I am afraid one day, Prime Minister, like they did for Thatcher, Blair and Brown. So as you set out your stall for the future, in these troubled times, please loudly champion the past, set your valuation high for all — because that’s better for our future. That’s a Britain I will vote for with or without the EU.”