David Mytton

Book Review (4/5) – Cameron at 10: The Inside Story 2010-2015 (Anthony Seldon, Peter Snowdon)

Published (updated: ) in Book Reviews. Tags: .

Originally published on Goodreads.

Several key themes run through the story of the Cameron government:

  • The relationship between Cameron and Osborne was a huge part of why they were successful. They were completely aligned on policy and there was no ambition for Osborne to take the job (until the second term began and Cameron had already said he wasn’t planning to seek a third term). 
  • The importance of advisors is highlighted by the Quad group of key policy makers, Cameron’s willingness to debate and be given dissenting opinions and how he ran the NSC. He regularly involved advisors from all areas of policy and Osborne had his own team to back him up too.
  • Although there was a massive failure to plan for losing the EU Referendum, the Cameron team actually made planning a central part of how they did things. Letwin’s extensive planning for the coalition agreement in the run up to the election allowed Cameron to come out ahead.
  • Speed is important – delivering key policies early on and making decisions quickly mean momentum can be maintained.
  • Routine and balance helped Cameron maintain his health, read the materials he needed to (plus other books) and to have family time. He was up early and regularly took breaks and holidays, including using Chequers.
  • There are two modes of a politician which are quite different: campaigning and governing. The former requires a singular focus on issues which actually win elections (defence doesn’t, the NHS does). There must be no discontent within the party during the campaign because it is important that everyone appears aligned. It’s insufficient to have good policies if they’re not communicated effectively. 

The final couple of chapters are somewhat sad because the narrative tells a story of Cameron finding his feet as PM, getting into routine and governing well with his team only to be cut short just as he is getting into things.