Editorial roundup

The London Evening Standard on the resignation of David Cameron:

David Cameron is only 49 and has been an MP for just 15 years. Yet he has decided to retire from parliament on the basis that “as a former Prime Minister it is very difficult … to sit as a backbencher and not be an enormous diversion and distraction from what the Government is doing”. Certainly, if he were to turn into an Edward Heath figure, perpetually resentful at being supplanted, he would not have added greatly to the deliberations of the Commons but that wasn’t a given. He could have added usefully to parliamentary debates on a variety of subjects on the basis of his experience, including his mistakes. His decision to resign as an MP is not just an about-turn from his commitment to his constituents in his resignation speech; it demonstrates a want of respect for the House of Commons in which elder statesmen — even youthful ones — are valuable members.

Certainly, Mr. Cameron will not find it difficult to find other employment, including writing his memoirs; he has said he wishes to continue to contribute to public life, and he can of course still do so. Yet his refusal to participate in these debates as an MP, however awkward that would be, is a loss to parliament and will mean that he loses a useful grounding in the concerns of ordinary voters. Tony Blair’s repudiation of the Commons to embrace a career as an adviser to governments and highly paid speechmaker served only to diminish his standing.

Mr. Cameron is said to be ill at ease with his successor’s move to reintroduce at least some grammar schools, even though the arguments against grammars could be made with even greater force against private, fee-paying schools which many Tories use for their children. Yet it would be possible to keep a judicious silence on those questions on which he would be at odds with his successor, and reserve his contributions for questions about which he could add a great deal. He may yet do so from the Lords; we hope so.

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