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Review of ‘The Meaning of David Cameron’

It might come as a surprise that this is not actually a book about David Cameron. It does however shed more light upon the political and historical significance of the new Prime Minister than any book about the man himself ever could. As Richard Seymour puts it, “the real subjects of this book are the historical forces galvanising the Tory leadership … the deep structural transformations that have taken place in the UK in the generation since the zenith of Thatcherism”. The Meaning of David Cameron is a broad and compelling survey of the last 40 years of British history which emerges at a profoundly opportune moment: the neo-liberal project stands in crisis at the same time as the apotheosis of this project ascends to high office.

The relative brevity of this book is belied by its laudable scope. It is an ideology critique taking aim not just at ‘progressive conservatism’ but the broader language of modernization and meritocracy which prepared the discursive ground for this latest vacuous instantiation of such rhetoric. It is an economic and social history offering a potent and comprehensive account of the structural and cultural changes which facilitated the emergence of Thatcherism, New Labour and now Cameronism. It is a passionate rehabilitation of the conceptual categories of class and struggle at a time when such theoretical tools are less in fashion and more in need than ever before.