As a university student, I was very much in the minority to have a smile on my face on seeing the news that David Cameron would be returning. In fact, I was probably in the minority in the country, and not for a bad reason.
The idea of the man who led us into one of the largest foreign policy disasters in the 21st century so far – not to mention various other miscalculations, especially the particularly topical 2014 invasion of Crimea – coming back to head the nation’s foreign policy is a pretty inherently amusing idea.
Keir Starmer was fast tapping into this public feeling, decrying this latest attempt to grab the headlines as a symbol of a government desperately trying to cling to power, this time by bringing in a man who is largely discredited in the public sphere.
With the overhanging legacy of austerity and Brexit, perhaps wasn’t the best look for a government which, a few weeks ago, was proclaiming that they were distancing themselves from “thirty years of a political system which incentivises the easy decision”, to bring back the man who began it all – and who, for many, represents the out-of-touch political elite.
Yet listening to the opinions of my friends, and of political commentators throughout the last weeks, I’m concerned by the reaction, and I find myself in the weird position of almost celebrating the return of a man who I am certainly not politically aligned with.
From people who have been condemning the Tories for swinging to the right, under the watchful gaze of Suella Braverman, the ERG and others, I would hope that any sign of the Conservative Party swinging back to the centre-ground would be reassuring, at least for anyone who truly had the best interest of the country at heart. It serves us no good to have a polarised political system, with two extremes, and it is undeniably reassuring to see the removal of a dangerous populist, with someone, who is – I believe – fundamentally a reasonable human with reasonable views.
Of course, there are those who say that calling David Cameron ‘centrist’ or ‘reasonable’ is wrong, and that it’s only in comparison to what has followed him that he looks as such – I’ve had many such conversations with fellow students, who almost come across as desperate to abhor whatever step the Tory party takes, even when it involves the removal of Suella Braverman.
They point to his failings in austerity as evidence of an ‘irredeemably right-wing’ attitude, but I fear these people are missing the larger political point.
If the Tory party is seen to swing to the centre, we should hopefully, next election, be faced with a choice between two fundamentally reasonable parties, both of which would have the best interests of the nation at heart – a far cry from the election of 2019.
For me, although this may be a cynical point, any move which makes the wolves of either political extreme howl with anger, and holler about the ‘political establishment’ is probably a good, centrist move, and one I believe that is in keeping with the good centrist traditions of the UK.
Any move to the centre should be welcomed by anyone who doesn’t want a repeat of polarisation and populism, and that when we condemn anything the Tory party does – especially if it’s in the right direction – we risk incorrectly showing them that there is no point in depolarisation, and becoming reasonable once again.