#ResignCameron – Careful What You Wish For

Thousands of people descended on Downing Street this weekend to call for David Cameron’s resignation in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal. Armed with picket signs with slogans such as “Cameron must go” and Cameron – resign now”, the message was very clear. In addition, as of writing, over 120,000 people have signed a petition calling for a General Election to be held in 2016, as a direct result of these revelations.

Whilst I am certainly no fan of either David Cameron or the Conservative Party, and strongly identify as being of the left, the demand for the Prime Minister’s head on a silver platter seems somewhat short-sighted.

It’s worth pointing out here that I have never voted Tory (and never will), and this is not a defence of them or their policies, either the coalition or the current government. Since they have come into power, they have wreaked havoc on this country.

They chose to stall our economic recovery in order to wage an ideological war against the poor and the most vulnerable in society, using the easily-discredited veil of “austerity” as an excuse. Indeed, the only reason their social policies have not been as destructive as originally planned is because their economic effect was so disastrous they had to be delayed.

This is also not a defence of Cameron. He is leader of the government. If anyone should be held accountable for the terrible things they have done, it should be him. But not for this.

Firstly, there is no evidence that either he, or his father, did anything illegal. Morally questionable? Yes. Hypocritical given his previous statements on these issues? Absolutely. Illegal? No.

Even if the argument is that he should resign on grounds of morality (rather than legality), then these revelations barely register on the scale of terrible things he has done.

When put in the context of this government’s war on teachers, doctors, public services, not to mention the regressive measures forced upon the poor, the vulnerable, and the disabled, this is barely a blip. In terms of lost revenue to the government, one only needs to recall the utter disaster that was the selling off of the Royal Mail to see how much money this government has stolen from the taxpayer.

Clearly, there are a lot of reasons why people (myself included) want to see both Cameron and (more importantly) the Tories removed from power. But Cameron and the government are not the same thing. Removing the Prime Minister does not remove the government. If it were to happen, then it might feel like a victory, but it is likely to do a lot more damage to the country (and the people who live here).

Of course, much of this is posturing and I don’t think anyone truly expects Cameron to resign, and there certainly isn’t going to be a General Election anytime soon, but perhaps it is worth taking a look at what the foreseeable consequences of a Cameron resignation would be.


1. It Would Revitalise The Conservative Party

David Cameron
Source: TodayOnline

David Cameron is not well liked. His approval ratings are at their lowest since July 2013. A recent poll showed that 58% of people do not think he is doing a good job, and that was taken before he admitted he had holdings in Blairmore.

However, the main shift of this is, according to pollsters YouGov, “Cameron’s decreasing popularity among Conservatives”, which they speculate “may be due to his position on Europe rather than tax avoidance.”

Therefore, a change of leader might actually strengthen the Party base depending, of course, on who was to succeed him.


2. His Replacement Will Be Worse

Boris Johnson
Source: Huffington Post

When Cameron announced that he would not stand for a third term, he opened the doors to his successors. In fact, he specifically named three people who he thought could take over from him. These were George Osborne, Theresa May, and Boris Johnson. If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, then I don’t know what will.

It was assumed by most people that Osborne was the natural successor, but given the disaster regarding the last budget, which resulted in the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, his approval ratings have gone through the floor (again). A poll suggested 73% of Britain and 61% of Conservatives do not believe he would be up to the job, with 67% and 69% thinking his getting the job was “unlikely”, respectively.

A recent poll by The Independent put Boris Johnson as the favourite to replace Cameron, with 38% of the general population and 42% of Tory supporters naming him as their preferred choice. Theresa May came a distant second with 16% and 23%, respectively. Just let that sink in for a minute.

Conservative Party supporters would want Boris Johnson to replace David Cameron. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.



3. It Wouldn’t Signal A General Election

Jeremy Corbyn
Image source: huffpost.com

Even if Cameron were to step down, there would not be a General Election. Both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair stepped down without calling an election, and there seems no reason why it would happen here. As previously stated, he has done nothing illegal, nor is the issue anything to do with the government. It is a personal issue.

So, if Cameron were to go, it is likely there will still be a Tory Government up to 2020. The only difference is that there would likely be a distinct shift to the right. Things would get worse, not better.

For all of Cameron’s (many, many) flaws, the reality is that there are many in the party who would take things even further, and those people are not the loony fringe, they are at the heart of government, just waiting for a chance to take over.

The likely result of a Cameron resignation is a near-half decade of more extreme right-wing policies.


4. It Won’t Help At The General Election

David Cameron on Immigration
Image source: ibtimes.co.uk

The only argument that might make sense was if getting rid of Cameron was going to help Labour win the next election (or at least, help the Tories lose it). Then, perhaps, you could argue that making thousands of people’s lives worse for the four years would be justified as it would help more people in the long run.

Even if we ignore the morality of such a position, this does not seem at all likely. Before the last election, the country had gone through half-a-decade of Conservative rule, mitigated somewhat by the Liberal Democrats (remember them?). Yet despite five years of social engineering under economically-damaging “austerity” measures, the country decided to give the Tories a majority government.

The idea that stepping it up again would make people “see sense” has no basis in reality. People who are suffering from these policies already know whose fault it is and aren’t going to vote for them. People who aren’t suffering and voted for the Tories aren’t likely to be swayed by a further increase in other people’s suffering (which they already voted for in 2015).

Therefore, it seems unlikely a swing to the right is going to hurt the Tories at the next election. It will only hurt the most vulnerable in society.


5. It Would Boost The Brexit Campaign

Cameron EU referendum
Image source: The Guardian

This is either a pro or a con, depending where you stand on Europe. Whilst not fan, and think it should be massively reformed, there seems little doubt that leaving the EU would be nothing short of disastrous for the country.

With Cameron gone, likely replaced by Boris Johnson, the campaign to leave the EU would become stronger, therefore making exit more likely. This would be very bad.

So, whilst Cameron and the Tories are, have been, and will continue to be disastrous for this country, the reality is that at this moment in time the only alternatives are even worse. If he leaves we are likely to have a more right-wing government with harsher policies until 2020, at least.

To make moral choices, we must look at the foreseeable consequences of our actions. Although it might be nice to have a victory and see Cameron humiliated, the likely result of this is that many people will suffer, even more than are suffering right now.

This is not to say that we should let the issue go, or accept that rich people won’t pay tax. On the contrary, this should be the main focus of the anger. Cameron has made a conscious decision to make this all about him, in order to deflect attention from his Party, their destructive policies and their failure to deal with this issue in the first place. We should not play his game and keep the eye on the larger issue, rather than trying to identify a “smoking gun” where none exists.

Whilst it is entirely understandable why people want to get Cameron out of power, such a strategy helps (whether it is successful, or not) no-one. The only people who stand to gain are the Tories and those who use such off-shore havens for not paying tax.

If we want to make the country better, then we need to hold the entire government, not just one man, accountable. If Cameron resigns and no changes are made to the laws regarding tax havens, then those that use them have won once again, and it is us as taxpayers who will, as usual, have to foot the bill.

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