Gambling With The State

by Louis Barfe

I nearly threw a plate across the kitchen when I heard David Cameron’s post- resignation mood described as ‘chipper’ in the final part of Steve Richards’s documentary series, Cameron Years (Radio 4, available on iPlayer).

If I’d put my country through a dubious referendum purely to save my own party and failed miserably while causing national division that will last generations, I’d be about as far from ‘chipper’ as is humanly possible. I’d be waking at least 11 times a night in a cold sweat with a face like Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

The documentary was gripping stuff, though, and a forensic look at how and why it all happened, with contributions from those at the centre of it all, including Ken Clarke, Vince Cable and Cameron’s chief advisor, Craig Oliver.

Following a narrow victory in the Scottish independence referendum, Cameron clearly believed he was Teflon Man and thought a leave vote was impossible. He hadn’t budgeted for his own personal unpopularity, and Richards wondered if the 52/48 proportions might have been reversed if Cameron had taken a back seat in the Remain campaign, like Harold Wilson in 1975. For many, it wasn’t a vote on the EU. It was on the PM.

During an interview on Steve Wright in the Afternoon (R2, weekdays, 2pm), comedian Shazia Mirza noted that she’s learned not to address Brexit too much when gigging in areas that voted to leave, not because of hostile reactions but because so many of the people who voted out seem uncomfortable about their choice now. She also observed that stand-up comedy holds no fear for a woman who taught science at an east London comprehensive, as she did. The pupils were the toughest audience of all. I can well believe it.

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