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Cameron: The Rise of the New Conservative [Hardcover]

Francis Elliott , James Hanning
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

19 Mar 2007

The first major biography of the Conservative Party’s dynamic new leader.

David ('Dave') Cameron has recently emerged as the first Tory leader in years to come across as a man of the people, an ordinary bloke in a traditionally reviled political position. But, spin-doctoring aside, not a great deal is known about his background, his family life or his gradual rise through the ranks of the Party.

The son of a prosperous and disabled stockbroker father and a magistrate mother, and a descendant of King Henry VII, Cameron excelled at Eton and was voted most likely amongst his classmates to become Prime Minister. At Oxford he 'played a lot of pool and ate a lot of kebabs', but loved politics and worked extremely hard to achieve a high first. It was clear by then that he was headed for Westminster, and indeed a former colleague at the Conservative Research Department, which Cameron joined after graduation, referred to him as 'a young man in a hurry', a reputation cemented by his rapid rise to the head of the political department and the favour of John Major.

Cameron has also worked very closely with Norman Lamont, Michael Howard, and has been an MP since 2001. In 2005 he was asked by Howard to write the Tory manifesto, widely considered the most right-wing in post-war history. Months later, at the age of 39, he secured leadership of the Party.

This biography reveals more about the man behind the spin, and the first Tory leader in years to have a chance of leading the party to victory. It explores the future direction of the Conservatives. Is the current honeymoon evidence of a new Tory Party, or simply recognition that the appearance of newness is needed? Will he really be prepared to jeopardise the support of the traditional grass roots? How deep are his environmental credentials? How will he react when the press turns nasty? Does his success mark a return of the old class deference? Or is it the opposite, a sign that background, for better or worse, is now unimportant?

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (19 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007243669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007243662
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 617,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Anyone hoping to penetrate Cameron's still rather opaque political personality will want to buy this book, which in readable…form offers much ammunition to both his admirers and detractors…This book gives a clear and convincing account of how Cameron raced past far better-known and more experienced rivals to become leader of the Tory party.' Telegraph

‘Provides many insights into the privileged background and the motivations of David Cameron. The authors underline the hard ambition and calculation behind the surface charm, raising fascination questions about what Cameron might be like as Prime Minister.' Peter Riddell, The Times

'If anyone doubts Cameron's classic Tory credentials, then this highly rewarding biography lays out the story brilliantly.' Sunday Telegraph

‘Readable and well researched.’ Chris Huhne, in the Observer ‘Books of the Year’

'This essential political textbook will be required reading for every journalist covering David Cameron's every move until the general election.' Independent

'Compelling and evidently well-researched.' Evening Standard

About the Author

Francis Elliott worked for the New Statesman before being appointed Westminster Editor for Scotland on Sunday. He later became the Sunday Telegraph's Deputy Political Editor and joined the Independent on Sunday in 2003, where he was recently made Whitehall Editor. He was shortlisted in 2005 for "What the Papers Say 'Scoop of the Year'" for his work on David Blunkett's business interests. He lives in London with his wife and two children. James Hanning initially worked freelance before joining the Daily Mail and then moving to the Londoner's Diary on the Evening Standard, where he rose to become Associate Editor with responsibility for the Comment pages. In 2004 he was appointed Executive Editor of the Independent on Sunday. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read.... 5 April 2007
A very interesting biography of Cameron, the first impartial study of him and his rise to the head of the Tory Party. There are some revealing accounts from his Eton, Oxford, Smith Square and Carlton days which shed light on Cameron's life and career. A balanced book - which reveals postive and negative aspects of his life and personality - that will be of use to anyone interested in British Politics.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cameron 4 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a really rather ordinary rehash of Dave Cameron's rise to the top of the Tory Party and his unconvincing stab at winning the 2010 general election. Practically no one believed that, given the unpopularity of Gordon Brown and up against an exhausted and penniless Labour Party, Cameron could fail to win a convincing victory in 2010. And yet that's exactly what he managed to do: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and having to turn mendicant by seeking a power-sharing deal with Clegg and his Liberal bedfellows.

This book provides a perfectly adequate ramble through Cameron's seemingly gilded path to Tory stardom and his apparently effortless ability to square up those that matter within the Conservative party in order to secure career advancement. It does not, however, provide any particular insight into what makes Cameron tick. What does he believe in? The fact that the Prime Minister has now given us several relaunches of his Big Society theme without ever putting any more flesh onto the bones of that particular bromide is surely reason enough for any Tory to worry that staying in office and generally doing the decent thing by his country and his class is all that their leader wishes to be remembered for.

What is Cameron all about? Is he truly intent on recasting the UK's education system and its broken welfare state and thereby donning the ragged radical cloak of Mrs Thatcher? Or is he happily going the way of Harold MacMillan, his mind already half wandering off to growing prize marrows in his Oxfordshire garden in his retirement?

Cameron's unpopularity on his own back benches has everything to do with the fact that many of his MPs simply do not see him as a proper Conservative at all. This book will do nothing to reassure them on that point.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heeeeres Dave! 6 April 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Anyone with an interest in politics should be reading this book.

While describing a politician's biography as a 'page turner' may seem implausible, this is a book that is very readable and gives multiple insights into the formation of 'Dave' and his rise to Tory leader within 5 years of election as an MP.

That said, the first chapters seem rather worthy, being chronicles of Cameron's school days. In reality, such narrative is one of the strengths of the book, as it gives readers an insight into the world of the moneyed classes which Cameron comes from and his formative influences such as losing a 'safe' seat in 1997 and being on the Treasury team during "Black Wednesday". Knee-jerk class-warriors will instinctively despise him for Eton, Oxford, homes with tennis courts and the assumption that summer would mean languid days around the pool at a Italian villa.

Although not mentioned by the authors, Dave's unobserved presence at seminal events in Tory party history reminded me of Woody Allen's character 'Zelig', a human-chameleon who adapts to fit into any situation so that he will be comfortable and never experience any anxiety. But after examining the evidence of policy flip-flopping, political opportunism, presentation over substance etc., the authors generally find in favour of their man.

A value of the book comes from matching how Dave mines his insiders view of the many. many party bungles from 1992 to 2003 to inform and guide his actions now.

The core observation is that he is using his own media savvy & 'likeability' to remove the stigma of the Tories as the 'Nasty Party' before he attempts to lay out the policies to voters.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful biography of Cameron 23 Sep 2009
Francis Elliott, the Whitehall Editor of the Independent on Sunday, and James Hanning, an old Etonian and the Executive Editor of the Independent on Sunday, have written a fascinating biography of David Cameron, the leader of the opposition since 2005. The son of a stockbroker, who went to preparatory school, Eton and Oxford, Cameron has led a life `of gilded privilege, of nannies, swimming pools and friends in the City', as they describe it.

An Etonian said, "you are tough as nails, you are, and no one realises it." The phrase `not as nice as he seems' recurs. An Oxford friend said, "he loved the free market and Thatcher." Elliott and Hanning sum up, "he was, as university friends confirm, a dyed-in-the-wool Thatcherite."

Cameron worked at the Conservative Research Department from 1988 to 1992 and then as an adviser first to Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont and later to Home Secretary Michael Howard. A friend said, "David was very right wing in those days."

In 1992, Prime Minister John Major and Cameron's boss Lamont insisted that they had no plans to raise taxes, and then within a year signalled three years of tax rises in the 1993 budget. This `green' tax, of VAT on fuel, lifted the tax take by more than 10 billion by 1995. Cameron has pledged to make emissions cuts targets statutory.

In 1994, his fiancée's mother, a friend of Michael Green, chairman of Carlton Communications (the world's worst TV company), got him a 80K a year job as the firm's spin doctor. He worked there for seven years. Green said, "I think David can be ruthless ... he was as tough as they come."

Cameron said, "I am an instinctive hawk." He voted for the Iraq war, despite saying that he would not do so without proof of threat or a UN resolution. He was and is liberal on drugs and gays, hard-right on the economy, and neo-con on foreign policy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Good book if you are a solid conservative or a bench warming liberal, this book tells of Mr.Cameron's childhood and rise to political fame, how he defeated David Davies to become... Read more
Published 7 months ago by 98morgano
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Really enjoyed reading this book, gave me a good insight to David Cameron who is turning out to e a fine Prime Minister. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Densie
1.0 out of 5 stars scamoron propaganda
I hate scamoron , and his pro toff policies , and the joke that is his rivals and the pathetic failed policies of debt reduction by public cuts effecting the poorest , yet despite... Read more
Published 8 months ago by davidinator
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive
Definitive. This biography probably won't be surpassed until the PM writes his memoirs. Whether you are a Cameron fan or not, Buy this book!
Published 17 months ago by Jesse Garden
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh god another posh boy playing politics
I wasn't actually looking for a book on 'Call me Dave' as he apparently likes to be called, when I saw this propping open the door of my local charity shop. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Harry Lime
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book!
This book is excellent. It is both informative and interesting; it is clearly very well researched. It is very well written - easy to read without being "dumbed down" in any way. Read more
Published on 20 July 2012 by V.D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Cameron: The Rise of the New Conservative
Didn't know too much about our Prime Ministers background, so got this to gen up;) Found it informative, perhaps lacking some depth, but a good overall portrait of David Cameron's... Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2012 by S. NAKONECZNYJ
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but impenetrable
A fascinating and informative biography ruined by an appalling prose style.
At times the sentence construction is so tortuous it verges on the unreadable. Read more
Published on 5 Jun 2011 by Sunburst
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter Stage Right
It's fifty years since Theodore H White wrote "The Making of The President" in which he identified the importance of image in political success. Read more
Published on 13 Aug 2010 by Neutral
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and insightful book
This is a very well written and researched biography of David Cameron. Surprisingly little is known of the new Prime Minister, and I eagerly await an updated version of this... Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2010 by ewarren
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