David Cameron was wrong to seek the Queen’s help in the Scottish referendum

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff
Share this article

Suave? Absolutely. Articulate? David Cameron has that in spades.

Yet, despite these vital attributes for a politician he is regarded in some quarters, not least areas of his own party, as being a bit of a chump.

David Cameron with the Queen at Balmoral early in his premiership. During the later Scottish referendum he sought royal advice on the next step. Photo: Oxford Film and Television/PA Wire

David Cameron with the Queen at Balmoral early in his premiership. During the later Scottish referendum he sought royal advice on the next step. Photo: Oxford Film and Television/PA Wire

Cameron should know by now that if you get into a muddle over a constitutional issue when you are prime minister — such as Scottish independence — the last person you should seek advice from is the Queen.

Yet, Cameron for some bizarre reason approached the Queen’s private secretaries to find out what they advised as the next step.

This was a gross error of judgement on Cameron’s part and the equivalent of asking the monarch personally to side with him in that row.

These revelations came to light in Cameron’s memoirs published last week. It appears that the Queen did make some comment, saying that people should think hard before reaching a decision on this issue — which is not really her constitutional right.

But Cameron appears to believe that he said nothing that was wrong when he made his approach to the Palace although his action has been condemned by all and sundry, including those in his own party who believe the monarch should be kept at more than arm’s length out of this and any other political debate.

She should have nothing to do with any of it.

Mr Cameron’s naivete in some respects has been demonstrated before.

That was when he decided to go to the office by bike to establish his “greenness”, yet behind him was a car carrying his shoes.

Cameron’s book, in which he attacks both Boris Johnson and Michael Gove is a good read but it is surprising that he got away with such naivete in other areas of his work without being sussed out.

Mr Cameron was plainly the only man fit for the job when he became leader of the Conservative Party.

But he is a past master at making speeches which sound magnificent but which on closer inspection reveal emptiness.

He certainly got away with it for a long time.

No sooner had Labour activists at their party conference booked into their hotels than they were already sharpening their knives to get rid of senior people in the party with whom they disagreed.

First on their list of “victims” was Tom Watson the deputy leader who does not agree with Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit.

Nevertheless Corbyn came to his rescue and he seems to have survived this attempt to ambush him.

It looks as though the conference might get underway on a reasonably even keel although there is enough backbiting within the movement to create plenty of trouble during the next few days.

Corbyn will have to have his eyes wide open to ensure that people do not try to wreck the party’s efforts to unite over Brexit in the final run-up.

Rarely before has the Labour party been in such turmoil before a party conference but it should be becoming clear now to most sensible supporters that unless they unite there will be further trouble ahead for Labour.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives embark on their party conference the following week, mercifully the last week of the party conference season.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, has many enemies in the rank and file and his problems may be just as serious as Corbyn’s, when he attempts to calm down those who seek trouble within the movement.

Brexit, especially for the Tories, will always be a bugbear, and it remains to be seen whether Johnson can reach some kind of agreement on his chosen day October 31, the date on which he has said the United Kingdom will leave the European Union come what may.