Throughout Mr Cameron’s career, he has been described as a political chameleon; Labour’s 2006 local election slogan even advertised him as “Dave the Chameleon”. His “Call me Dave” attitude attracted criticisms of being an ever-changing populist in his quest for power.

Cameron’s political integrity certainly comes into question when some of his promises are scrutinised. Many promises made in 2010 and 2015 elections have not been delivered on:

Promise Reality
  • The deficit is set to be more than £73 billion this year. It has been cut by around 40%.
  • VAT increased from 17.5% to 20% in 2011 under Cameron.
  • Support for solar panels on homes has been cut. Green Deal to help people insulate old homes, green building standards for new homes and support for industrial solar projects has also been scrapped

Source: All statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Cameron’s ability to deliver was certainly comprised in the coalition government. However, it would be wrong to presume that if a prime ministerial promise is blocked by political circumstances then we cannot hold it to account. For example, in April 2015 Cameron assured voters tax credits are “not going to fall”. The next Spending Review, however, saw severe cuts to tax credits. After political uproar and heavy criticism from the House of Lords, the government scrapped the proposed cuts. In this welfare failure, Cameron still made a promise that he did not intend to deliver.

Promise Reality
  • Net migration never under 100,000 per year. Last year it was 333,000.
  • Schools are bigger: 87 Primary schools have more than 800 pupils, up from 58 in 2013.Classes are bigger: 100,800 infants are in classes of over 30, an increase of 8% compared with 2014.
  • Article 50 has not yet been triggered.

Source: All statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

David Cameron was elected as Conservative leader on a mandate of modernisation after only 4 years as an MP. As the youngest Prime Minister since 1812, Cameron aimed to create a modern Tory party for the 21st century. The same-sex couples Marriage Act, legalising gay marriage, and allowing women on the front line (2016) were key steps towards modernisation, championed by the Prime Minister.

The rather vague ideology of ‘The Big Society’ has had more criticism. The increase in free schools, and the expansion of the 15-17 volunteer programme, National Citizenship Service, were efforts to move towards the localised responsibility and compassion he championed, along with more devolved powers to local government.

Critics claim the ‘Big Society’ is a cover for privatisation and further cuts. Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell attributed to it the spoof slogan: “From each according to their vulnerability, to each according to their greed“, adapted from Marx’s “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. Increased food bank usage shows the darker side of the ‘Big Society’. Many received community aid out of necessity due to government cuts or benefit sanctions. Foreign aid, a cause championed by Cameron, has seen the role of central government increase rather than decrease. Last year the UK government sent £13.21 billion overseas, hitting the UN foreign aid target of 0.7% of GDP and putting the UK 5th highest on the list of most generous countries. Furthermore, the current zeitgeist appears to be more of division than unity. Following the Brexit outcome reported hate crime incidents have risen by 42% according to police statistics.

Mr Cameron will be most remembered for the EU referendum. The referendum was a promise that he had to deliver on. After already failing to deliver a promised referendum in the last government, failing to deliver again would be impossible. With 138 of 330 (42%) conservative MPs backing Leave, and 52% of the country voting Brexit, the demand for the referendum was clear.

David Cameron ends his six years in office on an EU referendum defeat. Throughout a premiership plagued by broken promises, his very resignation was a broken promise itself. In an interview with the Sunday Times before the referendum, he promised to stay on as PM, no matter the result. This was a lie and one which may taint his legacy in years to come.