For the Record by David Cameron [Book Summary]

In 2016, David Cameron resigned as the Prime Minister; however, the legacy of his period in office will remain for generations. Cameron will nearly surely be thought of as the prime minister who presented a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, campaigned for his nation to stay in the union – and lost.

Definitely, there’s a lot more to Cameron than only Brexit. His stereotypically upper-middle-class upbringing set him out as a usual British Conservative; however, Cameron was strong-minded to be a different, kind, reforming Conservative politician. By modernizing his party and its policies, he was compensated with two successive general election wins and six years as prime minister. 

However, in spite of such attainments, it’s Cameron’s choice to call the Brexit referendum, and Britain’s following choice to leave that history will remember.

In this authentic, behind-the-scenes story of David Cameron’s personal life, a career in politics, and period in office, these chapters described why he took the choices he did. They explained the realities of life as prime minister, tell part of the difficulties and frustrations Cameron encountered in the referendum campaign, and explain his opinion on the reason why the Brexit battle was – from his viewpoint – lost. 

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Chapter 1 – David Cameron loved an old-fashioned background. 

David Cameron was aware that he was privileged even as a young boy. 

His background and education were, according to him, something of an English upper-middle-class cliché. His parents had money they inherited. After living temporarily in Kensington, a rich region in London, the family relocated to a pleasant village known as Peasemore, close to the capital. Cameron’s parents were kind and loving; however, he was taken to boarding school at the age of seven. 

The name of the boarding school is Heatherdown which was small and high-class. Prince Edward was a student there. Alex, Cameron’s elder brother, eventually became friends with the prince and went to see him at Windsor Castle.

The school was rather outdated. When they had to take their baths, Cameron and other pupils would line up in front of a row of Victorian metal tubs, naked. They had to wait to hear the headmaster whistle before they were allowed to go in. The boys then bathed, covered in rotten smoke coming from the headmaster’s pipe that he always had.

After he left Heatherdown, he –just like his father and grandfather before him –went to England’s most well-known school, Eton College. There at Eton College, for a while, he felt rather mediocre. Bored by work, he got in with the wrong people. Immediately, he was always sneaking out with friends just to smoke cannabis. Eton is not a normal school, and sneaking out was anything but normal as well: it entailed renting a rowboat and rowing out to an island in the river Thames, where he with his friends would roll cannabis and get high.

This routine didn’t last for long. Rounded up and questioned by the headmaster during a school-widespread crackdown on drug users, Cameron assumed he would be expelled, as a lot of his friends were. 

He escaped with a smaller punishment – a fine and the compulsory, useless transcription of one of Virgil’s Georgics poems in Latin. Cameron was extremely pleased and was resolute to make more of a determination in life. 

It was a great change. From that point onward, Cameron was a changed student. Successful grades at Eton caused him to have a Politics, Philosophy, and Economics degree at Oxford. Later, in 1988, he got a job in the Conservative Party’s research department. 

Growing through the ranks, Cameron was an adviser to Norman Lamont, the chancellor of the exchequer as at then. While he left Westminster for a short spell in business, his wish to be in politics never left. Chosen as the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for the Oxfordshire constituency of Witney in 2001, he turned to be a leader of his party for only four years later, in 2005. 

Chapter 2 – When Cameron became the leader of the Conservative Party, he worked to revolutionize a somewhat out-of-touch institution. 

As a new-faced and young Conservative leader, David Cameron led a party that had not only been miserably out of power for nearly a decade. According to him, it was also hopelessly out of touch with present Britain. 

The party had steadily rejected positive social improvements such as reducing the pay difference between men and women. Also, it was completely unrepresentative of a modern, diverse Britain: During the 2005 election, just 17 of the 198 Conservative MPs were women. The Conservative Party was really white and male that when Cameron selected his team of spokespeople, his wish to form a diverse team was cut. Eventually, his first-team had more people called David than women.

He was determined to mend things. His first step, he forced local Conservative Party associations to select parliamentary candidates from a centrally approved list that had more diverse candidates. This caused an important increase in representation that included 68 female and 17 non-white MPs by 2015. 

In 2010, when Cameron was made the prime minister, he wanted to bring modern Conservatism to life by real policy transformation also. One of his fulfilled accomplishments was legalizing gay marriage in 2013, very ahead of a lot of other Western countries. Cameron had initially felt that gay marriage was maybe a step really far; however, was persuaded by his wife, Samantha. The big depiction, in her opinion, was simple: If two really people love each other, they should be able to marry each other. 

He understood that she was correct and that gay marriage was perfectly appropriate with Conservatism. In 2016, while talking to the Conservative Party conference, he asserted that Conservatives have continuously supported marriage as a body that connects both people and society together. He said that his backing for gay marriage wasn’t as a result of his Conservative views – it was because of them. When this word was welcomed with ringing applause, Cameron understood that his party had made a huge step forward. 

Since the legislation was approved, over 20,000 same-sex couples have decided to marry. One day while Cameron walked out of the door of 10 Downing Street, one of the custodial staff stopped him. The custodian said to the prime minister that, all thanks to him, he was getting married to his boyfriend that weekend. 

It was a strong reminder that, for all its faults, politics has the influence to transform lives. 

Chapter 3 – Cameron wasn’t only a politician – he’s a proud family man as well.

Mostly, Cameron’s family was happy staying at 10 Downing Street. The well-known residence of the British prime minister is half offices, half family home. However, for his children, there was no actual difference between the two. 

One time, Cameron remembered seeing a senior military adviser entering through the front door for a meeting. Fully dressed in his uniform, decorated in his medals, he might have been an intimidating view. However, not for the young Florence Cameron. While sitting on the hallway floor, Florence simply asked to know what he came to do in her house.

Cameron was mindful all the time of the likely effect his role might have on his children; however, generally, they looked well-accustomed and calm by their father’s duties. When Cameron was on the phone one time over breakfast, his daughter Nancy asked him who he was on the phone with. When he discontinued the discussion to say to her that he was talking to the Chinese premier on the phone, she responded, “Well, say to him that he should free Ai Weiwei!”

However, although Cameron’s family life was regularly happy, it was also affected by a disaster. Ivan, his first child that was given birth to in 2002, suffered from Ohtahara Syndrome, a rare, incurable illness that would extremely delay his growth. Also, he experienced constant seizures and looked to be in severe pain. Due to that, the Camerons used a lot of their nights sleeping on hospital floors close to him and saw direct the incredible skill and kindness of the nursing staff in Britain’s National Health Service. 

Cameron cherished his son. Even though Ivan couldn’t move or talked, Cameron felt that he liked the fresh air. Therefore, he took him out and around as often as possible, pushing a wheelchair or carrying Ivan on his shoulder, resolute not to hide his young disabled son away all the time. 

Unfortunately, Ivan’s life came to an end shortly in 2009 when he was only six. For Cameron, it seemed like the world had stopped moving. For a moment, there was just darkness. As time went by, some of the clouds lifted, tiny happy memories approached, and he was able to think about what he had, instead of only on what he had lost. 

Chapter 4 – Cameron saw the Queen as a huge backing and the Royal Family accommodating hosts. 

Cameron’s first meeting with royalty happened in his school years and was an incident to forget. As a student at Heatherdown, during a carol service, he read a Bible lesson as the Queen sat in the front row. Unluckily, he left out the vital “Thanks be to God” that appears at the end. Understanding this, as he left the stand, he panicked and uttered a loud “oh shit!”

Thankfully the Queen forgot about this event since Cameron would, as is custom for the British prime minister, see her weekly while in office. 

Planning for this audience with the Queen was the same all the time: Cameron would watch the BBC news headlines first, and then make a phone call to a friend who was a horse racing expert. The Queen has a nearly unbeatable understanding of both current affairs and the horse racing world, and Cameron never desired to get caught out not understanding something.

Every week, Cameron and the queen talked about the pressing problems he encountered. The meetings were really beneficial to Cameron. He regularly discovered that after his discussions with her Majesty, he had a better understanding of how best to deal with his issues. This is possibly no shock. Nevertheless, the Queen has been having meetings every week with prime ministers since Winston Churchill. Cameron was her twelfth prime minister. Meaning, she had heard everything before.

Also, their relationship allowed some relaxation. Every year Cameron and his wife used a weekend at Balmoral which is the Queen’s castle and estate in the Scottish Highlands. Here, in privacy, he had a rare chance to delight in his love of country sports like hunting, fishing, and shooting. After becoming a modernizing leader of the Conservatives, he’d had to reduce all these things; plenty people viewed him as classy and not updated already without him being caught with a gun in one hand and on the other hand a dead grouse

But, the best part was Prince Phillip’s barbecue. Every year, the Queen would drive the Camerons at high speed across the moors, taking them to an old stone hut. The Duke of Edinburgh would be outside waiting for them, barbecue tongs in hand, doing a grill of sizzling, freshly shot grouse. Afterward, the Queen and Duke would make barbecue, serve dinner, top-up drinks, and remove the plates. 

According to Cameron’s, the Royal Family had constantly been a crucial point for the country – steeped in tradition and representing values such as stoicism, duty, and service. However, as prime minister, he found out that they were also a cause of wisdom, reflection, and relaxation. 

Chapter 5 – During the 2015 general election, Cameron learned from his previous mistakes and concentrated on message discipline.

Clarity is essential in politics.

Still, in 2010, the Conservatives campaigned on a mystifying range of slogans on everything from budget deficit reduction to volunteering. As election campaigns progress, it wasn’t a standard. Due to that, the Conservatives were unsuccessful in winning a majority and had to manage in coalition for five years. 

However, in 2015, at the following election, the Conservative Party had a surprise win and a small however workable overall majority. What was different? 

First of all, message discipline. In 2015, the Conservatives concentrated ceaselessly on one message: that they provided a Long Term Economic Plan. The slogan wasn’t really poetry; however, it was clear, simple, and understandable. By taking tough however sensible approaches; such as reducing taxes and the deficit and investing in infrastructure and skills, the Conservatives were creating a brighter long-term future. 

Cameron, as well as the Conservatives, repeated the slogan Long Term Economic Plan really often that journalists started complaining of being bored. 18 months before the voting day, the word was used more than 800 times in Parliament. However, that only signified that the message was getting across to the public. That was in glaring contrast to their rivals, Labour, who changed from talking about the health service to tax avoidance, to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and to public spending. 

As the message was correct, their tactics were also right too. The Conservatives were the first British political party to really accept online campaigning and advertising. While in 2010, the party used only £150,000 on its entire online activity, in 2015, it used £1.2 million on Facebook ads only. Having employed Barack Obama’s media guru named Jim Messina; the Conservatives were able to create a classy targeting system, guiding tailored messages to voters formed on their interests.

On the night of the election, as the results came in – Thursday, on the 5th of May– Cameron was surprised at his victory. A blend of message discipline, effective campaigning, and his long-term modernization project was beneficial. His majority was little–only 12 seats –however, it was the first Conservative majority since 1992. 

Since in Britain, the prime minister himself need to also contest as an MP, Cameron talked to the people that evening from the vote count in his home district Witney. He addressed them from a municipal sports center, filled by his failed local rivals – which comprised a man dressed as Sesame Street’s Elmo and another one dressed as a sheik. Against this eccentric setting, Cameron made a critical promise to lead in the interests of the entire country. 

However, as time would tell, this goal to unify politics would not be completely provided. 

Chapter 6 – Cameron assured a Brexit referendum, reflecting old discomfort about Britain’s membership in the EU. 

On the 23rd of January, 2013 on Wednesday, David Cameron made a crucial pledge. There was increasing unhappiness with Britain’s membership of the European Union. A lot of people believed that Britain wasn’t sufficiently getting from its association with the EU. Cameron assured them to fix it. Firstly, he would have to renegotiate the conditions of Britain’s membership, after he would call a referendum and put a vote for Britain’s position in the EU. It was a crucial choice.

Cameron believed at that point and still does presently, that Brexit would be a mistake. Therefore, why did he call a referendum then? 

Firstly, in contrast to a lot of continental Europeans, a lot of British people had historically and for different causes never felt completely comfortable being a member of the European Union. According to them, for instance, the history of World War II was one of Britain standing alone against the fascist warning. Due to that, a lot of Brits strongly trust in their national strength and independence and have no emotional connections to the European project. 

Hence, while a lot of Brits had been in support of pragmatic economic cooperation, they were doubtful about extending political union. A lot of them finally came to believe that Britons were not in charge anymore of the rules and regulations that ruled them. 

By 2013, this negative belief of Britain’s place in the EU was intensified by political and economic trends. Since the financial disaster that happened a few years before, the EU was determined for increased political and economic incorporation to make the economy and its currency, the euro stronger. Without modifications to Britain’s conditions, more incorporation could signify Britain becoming predisposed for financial bailouts to support the then-struggling euro. This likelihood had repercussions for British public opinion, and people’s belief in the EU fell from -13 to -49 percent in just five years. 

Regardless of this, a lot of people have blamed Cameron of having the referendum basically to indulge in anti-European members of his own Conservative Party. Meanwhile, in reality, his promise reflected extensive and deeply rooted cynicism about the European project among the entire nation

Lastly, according to Cameron’s, it’s important to know that a referendum on Europe was no political innovation or departure from tradition. As a matter of fact, the 2005 Labour election manifesto assured a referendum, the Liberal Democrats’ in 2010 did as well, and the Greens’ in 2015. Every single national-level UK party was, at some a point between 2005 and 2015, devoted to an in-out referendum: it was a repeated emphasize of British politics.

The people had been pledged a say, time after time. Irrespective of his own belief that EU membership was best for Britain, Cameron supposed it was right to offer it to them. 

Chapter 7 – Immigration was a big political problem and the main concentration of Cameron’s renegotiation efforts. 

Although Cameron’s renegotiation of Britain’s ties with the EU concentrated on various aspects, one was really politically important and difficult, than the others: Immigration. 

Under the EU laws, every member state citizens have the right to relocate to, work, live and stay in other member states. This caused the popular worries in Britain, which is Cameron’s opinion were completely legitimate, and which became the key reason for support for Brexit. 

The main problem was the total number of people going to the United Kingdom. 

Since the time when 15 Eastern European countries became part of the EU in 2004, there had been a rise in immigration from the EU to Britain. 

When Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, as well as other countries became part, the United Kingdom was one of the three EU countries that decided not to put a seven-year control on freedom of movement from the new member states. The Labour government as at then expected that just 13,000 Eastern European immigrants would enter Britain. 

However, in reality, a million came. Then the number continued increasing, and by 2015, total arrivals from the EU hit 184,000 a year. Britain’s tough and flexible job market was looking very attractive to workers from much poorer EU states. 

The total number of arrivals was itself a cause of worry, as some societies experienced quick transformation. However, a sense of objection among some British voters was worsened by the nature of Britain’s non-contributory welfare system, which signified that every new arrival could claim specific benefits –such as unemployment payments –as soon as possible, even before they had worked. 

When Cameron requested the numbers from a researcher, he was surprised to find out that 40% of new arrivals from the EU were requesting welfare. Some of them were even getting state childcare subsidies and sending it to children who had never for once been to the United Kingdom. 

Cameron understood immediately that any effort to limit total numbers was lost; therefore attention changed to a new idea: telling new arrivals to leave the country if they hadn’t gotten work after six months and need them to pay taxes for four years before being eligible for important benefits. 

According to the government’s private polling, this measure was vastly common, backed by 75% of voters. Frankly speaking, the measure was discriminatory and, so, wouldn’t be permitted under EU law. However, Cameron didn’t want to surrender; therefore, he planned to persuade fellow EU leaders. 

Chapter 8 – Cameron really struggled to renegotiate Britain’s ties with the EU and thought that the agreement was a good one. 

Between May 2015 and February 2016, Cameron used a lot of his time on planes, traveling around European capitals and going for summits. Once, in the duration of 48 hours, he ate lunch in Rotterdam, had dinner in Paris, had breakfast in Warsaw, and had lunched again in Berlin. 

All shuttling was an effort to win EU support for a set of measures that, Cameron claimed, would protect a “special status” for Britain: still part of the EU; however, with more freedom than before. 

The leader of the Eastern European was directly opposed to any modifications to welfare. Since, for instance, 900,000 Polish people were staying in Britain and a lot of them were getting welfare, that is not surprising. However, there was some sympathy. The Latvian prime minister confessed that she was troubled about the number of people that had departed from her country.

In all his discussions, Cameron highlighted a point. “If you make the Brits decide between having some control over immigration or remaining in the EU with no control, they will vote to leave.”

Months of these negotiations came to conclusion in Brussels, after two full days and one long night of talks, when eventually an agreement was reached. 

Cameron indicated the agreement as an assurance of Britain’s “special status” in the EU. It comprised, among other things, an assurance that Britain would not be under the authority o of Europe’s indicated commitment to “ever-closer union.” This guarantee endless integration and following losses in national independence had been harmful in Britain for a long time. Now there was an assurance that Britain would not forfeit more independence to the EU.

Regardless of that, a lot of people in Britain were dissatisfied. Some Euroskeptics assumed that Cameron should have chased much more determined goals. However, as Germany’s Angela Merkel later indicated to him, there was totally nothing more to which the EU would have devoted. And there was no opportunity that she, or other leaders, would have permitted a total restriction on freedom of movement. 

In reflection, Cameron trusts that the deal he made was a good one. However, he didn’t have time to enjoy his victory. Rather, it was time to prepare for an extremely difficult electoral fight. 

Chapter 9 – The Remain campaign has to deal with the unashamed populism of Leave during the time of the referendum campaign. 

During early 2016, while standing at a factory in northern England in front of a Typhoon fighter jet, Cameron argued fervently that EU membership both permitted cooperation in security matters and allowed British people’s holidays cheaper. To him, this was what UK membership in the EU was basically about, the cause why Britain was “stronger, safer and better off in Europe.” However, in pushing this line, Cameron and the Remain campaign saw themselves up against the forces of populism in a “post-truth” world. 

For instance, the Leave campaign was asserting that freedom of movement would cause five million more people to come to Britain by 2030. The center of its provocative messaging was Turkey, and it published posters asserting that Turkey and the 76 million populations it has, were joining the EU. This message indicated that mass Turkish immigration to the United Kingdom would immediately be next. It was an extreme alteration of the truth. 

The EU was discussing with Turkey on future membership, only because doing that might push the increasingly forceful country toward liberalism. There was no actual vision of it becoming part of the EU within decades, and regardless, Britain –just like all member states – had the veto right. 

However, when Penny Mordaunt a Brexit-supporting member of Cameron’s cabinet, showed on television the following day, she basically denied, twice, that the United Kingdom could veto Turkey’s membership. This was no broadening the truth anymore– it was a complete lie.

Whether true or not, the lie fascinated people’s feelings. One of the criticisms of the Remain campaign was that its message concentrated a lot on technical or economic opinions, whereas Leave’s messages concentrated on emotion.

Cameron attempted to fix that, making a strong argument on how the EU had embedded peace. During a speech, he mentioned how headstones across Europe stood in silent witness to the cost Europe had paid to keep the peace. Was it a risk that was worthy, he deliberated, to put the peace and stability of Europe in uncertainty? The Euroskeptic media skeptically asserted that Cameron was foreseeing World War Three. 

However, as the campaign finished, Cameron was fairly confident. Nevertheless, authoritative voices like Barack Obama, Britain’s trade unions, the head of the Church of England former heads of the security services MI5 and MI6 were united: Britain had more edge. Cameron’s pollsters said to him that Remain had it. 

On the day of voting, Cameron’s feelings changed to what he would do after a win. But, he was to be let down. 

Chapter 10 – According to Cameron, a Leave success also entailed exiting 10 Downing Street.

On the night of the referendum, Cameron with his wife assembled with colleagues at 10 Downing Street to see the results. They were feeling assured. However, at midnight, a tighter-than-anticipated result in Newcastle produced some tensions. Twenty minutes after, the northern city of Sunderland declared a Leave result with a large gap. At 2 a.m., Nancy, Cameron’s 12-year-old daughter called it: “Dad,” she said, “we’re losing.” By 2.30 a.m., Cameron himself could tell that was over. 

According to Cameron, losing entailed not only huge repercussions for Britain; however, that also meant that he would have to quit his job. 

While they were campaigning, he’d been clear that he wouldn’t leave if Remain lost, to evade any chance that the referendum became a vote on his future. However, he’d constantly understood that a loss would make his position weak. The new prime minister’s key duty would be to bargain a parting deal for Britain, and as the face of Remain, Cameron would have no personal integrity doing that. 

Therefore, the next morning, he walked out into Downing Street to talk to the people. He went there at 8 a.m. He went with Samantha, who’d taken a stiff gin to calm, her nerves.

Cameron said that he would do everything within his power to balance the ship in the next months. However, it would not be appropriate for him to be the captain, directing Britain to its next journey. With that being said, he went back inside and prepared breakfast. It was just after that the shock and sorrow of his loss really sank in. 

Since his exit from office, Cameron has been busy, promoting causes dear to his heart, like volunteering, dementia, and foreign aid. And, definitely, he’s observed politics carefully. 

He has been remorseful to witness the separation and doubt released by the 2016 referendum vote. However, in reflection, Cameron doesn’t feel remorseful having the referendum. He strongly believes that people are worthy to have their opinion on Europe. 

Although he regrets the choice of the people, he believes that exiting is a genuine decision. The major problems that caused British Euroskepticism have not vanished. 

Cameron claims that Britain can be outside of the EU; however, still involved in the things that are important; such as a powerful trading relationship and cooperation in security-related matters. 

Britain had, for long, been a sad tenant of the EU. Currently, it must turn to a happier neighbor. 

For the Record by David Cameron Book Review

David Cameron changed the Conservative Party into a modernized force once more able of winning elections. However, after winning the second term and a shock to a lot of people, his tenure was dominated by Brexit. And while Cameron is remorseful of the outcome of the referendum, he doesn’t regret having the vote: the British people have long been assured a say on Europe and are worthy of their vote. 

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