“I believe in public service,” said bloated, multimillionaire ‘Lord’ David Cameron, as his political corpse was exhumed by flailing snake oil salesman, our current prime minister, Rishi Sunak. Of course he does. That’s why he fucked off into the murky world of dodgy lobbying in order to further line his pockets after he accidentally led the country out of Europe, immediately resigning his seat as MP for Witney in order to allow others to pick up the pieces of the mess he left behind. The mess he set in train is still moving along at high speed but now the architect of austerity and the enabler of isolation from the top table in world politics is back, as if nothing has happened. Public service indeed.
Only last year, Cameron was boasting about his work as a volunteer at the “Chippy Larder“, a kind of subscription food bank, where “members” pay £3.50 a week to take home up to 14 items. Chippy is short for Chipping Norton, the home of various millionaires like Cameron, Jeremy Clarkson and Rebekah Brooks and the larder is – and I’m sorry if this term offends you (actually, I’m not) – essentially an upmarket version of what I do in Bristol. That’s not intended as a dig. More that it proves my theory that food poverty is extending beyond those with nothing to include those who have next to nothing, or maybe just not very much.
I would not be quite as cynical as I am about Cameron’s statement about “public service” and his participation in the Chippy Larder if it had not been his government, the Conservative government from 2010 to 2015 in which some Liberal Democrats sold their souls and took jobs, had not been responsible for imposing austerity on us in the first place.
The hard left Labour MP Zarah Sultana said that food bank use rose by 2612% during that government. While that figure is regarded as slightly dubious, the simple fact is that before Cameron aided and abetted by principle-free Nick Clegg, food banks barely existed. Before the 2010 election, Cameron was fond of accusing Labour as having created “Broken Britain“. The fact of the matter is that our new foreign secretary was the man who broke it.
As someone who worked in the civil service for nearly 40 years, took low paid work in the third sector to supplement my pension and now volunteers at a food bank, I reckon I know a thing or two about public service. Of course, the main reason I worked in the first place was to have enough money to live, but the longer I was in work, the more I regarded it as a public service. I was proud of the work my colleagues and I carried out for salaries that were among the lowest in the public sector. What we were doing, I believed (and still believe) made a difference. Would I liked to have had a job that paid as much as the average wage? I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t have and it’s fair to say I probably wasn’t capable of much else but I always felt I could hold my head up and be proud of what I did.
Our new unelected foreign secretary is certainly being well rewarded for the public service he so believes in, trousering £140,360 a year. Perhaps he might be able to confirm if he is continuing to enjoy the £115,000 a year allowance he also gets from you and I for running his office. Do the math. Before expenses, Cameron’s dedication to public service rewards him with a sum not unadjacent to a quarter of a million quid a year. No wonder he believes in it.
Cameron’s great wealth – he is believed to be worth around £40 million – does not make him a bad person and should not exclude him from carrying out public service. That would be just silly. Indeed, I commend him for what he has done at the Chippy Larder, which for all I know he does to feel less guilty about driving literally millions of people into poverty. It’s certainly more than Boris Johnson and Liz Truss have done, although I suppose that’s not saying anything, is it?
In any event, Cameron spoils it all for saying this straight after his appointment was made public: “I’ve decided to join this team because I believe Rishi Sunak is a good prime minister doing a difficult job at a hard time. I want to support him.” FACT: Sunak is a terrible prime minister, presiding over the mess caused by him and his predecessors, especially David Cameron. This is a country where it feels like everything is broken and nothing works. Everything is broken and nothing works because of the Conservative and Union Party, current prop R Sunak.
I suggest that Cameron believes in public service in the same way King Herod loved the young children of Bethlehem. Obviously, King Herod didn’t really exist. What a shame these bullshitting politicians do.