Cameron studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, gaining a first class honours degree. He then joined the Conservative Research Department and became Special Adviser to Norman Lamont, and then to Michael Howard. He was Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications for seven years.
A first candidacy for Parliament at Stafford in 1997 ended in defeat, but Cameron was elected in 2001 as the Member of Parliament for the Oxfordshire constituency of Witney. He was promoted to the Opposition front bench two years later, and rose rapidly to become head of policy co-ordination during the 2005 general election campaign. With a public image of a young, moderate candidate who would appeal to young voters, he won the Conservative leadership election in 2005.
In the 2010 general election held on 6 May, the Conservatives gained a plurality of seats in a hung parliament and Cameron was appointed Prime Minister on 11 May 2010, at the head of a coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. At the age of 43, Cameron became the youngest British Prime Minister since the Earl of Liverpool 198 years earlier. The Cameron Ministry is the first coalition government in the United Kingdom since the Second World War.
FamilyDavid Cameron is the younger son of stockbroker Ian Donald Cameron (12 October 1932 – 8 September 2010) and his wife Mary Fleur (née Mount, born 1934, a retired Justice of the peace, daughter of Sir William Mount, 2nd Baronet). His father, Ian, was born with both legs deformed and underwent repeated operations to correct them. Cameron's parents married on 20 October 1962. He was born in London, and brought up in Peasemore, Berkshire. Cameron has a brother, Allan Alexander (born 1963, a barrister and QC) and two sisters, Tania Rachel (born 1965) and Clare Louise (born 1971). His father was born at Blairmore House, a mansion near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, and died near Toulon in France on 8 September 2010. Blairmore was built by his great-great-grandfather, Alexander Geddes, who had made a fortune in the grain business in Chicago, and had returned to Scotland in the 1880s. The Cameron family is a member of the ancient Scottish Clan Cameron seated in the Inverness area of the Scottish Highlands.
Through his paternal grandmother, Cameron is a direct descendant of King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan. This illegitimate line consists of five generations of women on his father's maternal side starting with Elizabeth Hay, Countess of Erroll née FitzClarence, William and Jordan's sixth child, through to the fifth female generation Enid Agnes Maud Levita. Lady Ida Matilde Alice Feilding, Cameron's great-great grandmother, was the daughter of William Feilding, 7th Earl of Denbigh, GCH, PC, a courtier and Gentleman of the Bedchamber. Cameron's paternal forebears have a long history in finance. His father Ian was senior partner of the stockbrokers Panmure Gordon, in which firm partnerships had long been held by Cameron's ancestors, including David's grandfather and great-grandfather, and was a director of estate agent John D Wood. David Cameron's great-great grandfather Emile Levita, a German-Jewish financier who obtained British citizenship in 1871, was the director of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China which became Standard Chartered Bank in 1969. His wife, Cameron's great-great grandmother, was a descendant of the wealthy Danish Jewish Rée family on her father's side. One of Emile's sons, Arthur Francis Levita (died 1910, brother of Sir Cecil Levita), of Panmure Gordon stockbrokers, together with great-great-grandfather Sir Ewen Cameron, London head of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, played key roles in arranging loans supplied by the Rothschilds to the Japanese central banker (later Prime Minister) Takahashi Korekiyo for the financing of the Japanese Government in the Russo-Japanese war.
Cameron's maternal grandfather was Sir William Mount, 2nd Baronet, an army officer and the High Sheriff of Berkshire, and Cameron's maternal great-grandfather was Sir William Mount, 1st Baronet, CBE, Conservative MP for Newbury 1918–1922. His mother's cousin, Sir Ferdinand Mount, was head of 10 Downing Street's policy unit in the early 1980s. Cameron is the nephew of Sir William Dugdale, brother-in-law of Katherine, Lady Dugdale (died 2004) Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen since 1955, and former chairman of Aston Villa Football Club. Birmingham born documentary film-maker Joshua Dugdale is his cousin.
EducationFrom the age of seven, Cameron was educated at two independent schools: at Heatherdown Preparatory School at Winkfield, in Berkshire, which counted Prince Andrew and Prince Edward among its alumni. Cameron's academic ascent at Heatherdown was so great that he entered its top academic class almost two years early. At the age of thirteen, he went on to Eton College in Berkshire, following his father and elder brother. Eton is often described as the most famous independent school in the world, and "the chief nurse of England's statesmen". His early interest was in art. Cameron was in trouble as a teenager, six weeks before taking his O-levels, when he was named as having smoked cannabis. He admitted the offence and had not been involved in selling drugs, so he was not expelled, but was fined, prevented from leaving school grounds, and given a "Georgic" (a punishment which involved copying 500 lines of Latin text).
Cameron recovered from this episode and passed 12 O-levels, and then studied three A-Levels in History of Art, History and Economics with Politics. He obtained three 'A' grades and a '1' grade in the Scholarship Level exam in Economics and Politics. He then stayed on to sit the entrance exam for Oxford University, which was sat the following autumn. He passed, did well at interview, and was given a place as a member of Brasenose College, his first choice.
After finally leaving Eton just before Christmas 1984, Cameron had nine months of a gap year before going up to Oxford. In January he began work as a researcher for Tim Rathbone, Conservative MP for Lewes and his godfather, in his Parliamentary office. He was there only for three months, but used the time to attend debates in the House of Commons. Through his father, he was then employed for a further three months in Hong Kong by Jardine Matheson as a 'ship jumper', an administrative post for which no experience was needed but which gave him some experience of work.
Returning from Hong Kong he visited Moscow and a Yalta beach in the then Soviet Union, and was at one point approached by two Russian men speaking fluent English. Cameron was later told by one of his professors that it was 'definitely an attempt' by the KGB to recruit him.
Cameron then studied at Brasenose College at the University of Oxford, where he read for a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). His tutor at Oxford, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, described him as "one of the ablest" students he has taught, with "moderate and sensible Conservative" political views. When commenting in 2006 on his former pupil's ideas about a "bill of rights" to replace the Human Rights Act, however, Professor Bogdanor, himself a Liberal Democrat, said, "I think he is very confused. I've read his speech and it's filled with contradictions. There are one or two good things in it but one glimpses them, as it were, through a mist of misunderstanding".
While at Oxford, Cameron was captain of Brasenose College's tennis team. He was also a member of the student dining society the Bullingdon Club, which has a reputation for an outlandish drinking culture associated with boisterous behaviour and damaging property. A photograph showing Cameron in a tailcoat with other members of the club, including Boris Johnson, surfaced in 2007, but was later withdrawn by the copyright holder. Cameron's period in the Bullingdon Club is examined in the Channel 4 docu-drama When Boris Met Dave broadcast on 7 October 2009. He also belonged to the Octagon Club, another dining society. Cameron graduated in 1988 with a first class honours degree. Cameron is still in touch with many of his former Oxford classmates, including Boris Johnson and close family friend, the Reverend James Hand.
The Guardian has accused Cameron of relying on "the most prestigious of old-boy networks in his attempt to return the Tories to power", pointing out that three members of his shadow cabinet and 15 members of his front bench team were "Old Etonians". Similarly, The Sunday Times has commented that "David Cameron has more Etonians around him than any leader since Macmillan" and asked whether he can "represent Britain from such a narrow base." Former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears has said of Cameron, "You have to wonder about a man who surrounds himself with so many people who went to the same school. I'm pretty sure I don't want 21st-century Britain run by people who went to just one school."
Some supporters of the party have accused Cameron's government for cronyism on the front benches, with Sir Tom Cowie, working-class founder of Arriva and former Conservative donor, ceasing his donations in August 2007 due to disillusionment with Cameron's leadership, saying, "the Tory party seems to be run now by Old Etonians and they don't seem to understand how other people live." In reply, Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said when a party was changing, "there will always be people who are uncomfortable with that process".
In a response to Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions in December 2009, Gordon Brown addressed the Conservative Party's inheritance tax policy, saying it "seems to have been dreamed up on the playing fields of Eton". This led to open discussion of "class war" by the mainstream media and leading politicians of both major parties, with speculation that the 2010 general election campaign would see the Labour Party highlight the backgrounds of senior Conservative politicians.
Personal lifeCameron married Samantha Gwendoline Sheffield, the daughter of Sir Reginald Adrian Berkeley Sheffield, 8th Baronet and Annabel Lucy Veronica Jones (now the Viscountess Astor), on 1 June 1996 at the Church of St. Augustine of Canterbury, East Hendred, Oxfordshire. The Camerons have had four children. Their first child, Ivan Reginald Ian, was born on 8 April 2002 in Hammersmith and Fulham, London, with a rare combination of cerebral palsy and a form of severe epilepsy called Ohtahara syndrome, requiring round-the-clock care. Recalling the receipt of this news, Cameron is quoted as saying: "The news hits you like a freight train... You are depressed for a while because you are grieving for the difference between your hopes and the reality. But then you get over that, because he's wonderful." Ivan died at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London, on 25 February 2009, aged six.
The Camerons have two daughters, Nancy Gwen (born 2004), and Florence Rose Endellion (born 24 August 2010), and a son, Arthur Elwen (born 2006). Cameron took paternity leave when his second son was born, and this decision received broad coverage. It was also stated that Cameron would be taking paternity leave after his second daughter was born. His second daughter, Florence Rose Endellion, was born on 24 August 2010, three weeks prematurely, while the family was on holiday in Cornwall. Her third given name, Endellion, is taken from the village of St Endellion near where the Camerons were holidaying.
A Daily Mail article from June 2007 quoted Sunday Times Rich List compiler Philip Beresford, who had valued the Conservative leader for the first time, as saying: "I put the combined family wealth of David and Samantha Cameron at £30 million plus. Both sides of the family are extremely wealthy." Another estimate is £3.2 million, though this figure excludes the million-pound legacies Cameron is expected to inherit from both sides of his family.
In early May 2008, David Cameron decided to enroll his daughter Nancy at a state school. The Camerons had been attending its associated church, which is near to the Cameron family home in North Kensington, for three years.
On 8 September 2010 it was announced that Cameron would miss Prime Minister's Questions in order to fly to southern France to see his father (Ian Cameron) who had suffered a stroke with coronary complications. Later that day, with David and other family members at his bedside, Ian Cameron died. On 17 September 2010, Cameron attended a private ceremony for the funeral of his father in Berkshire, meaning he missed the address of the Pope to Westminster Hall, an occasion he would otherwise have attended.
Cameron owns a cat, Larry, who lives at 10 Downing Street.
Cameron supports Aston Villa Football Club.
CyclingHe regularly uses his bicycle to commute to work. In early 2006 he was photographed cycling to work followed by his driver in a car carrying his belongings. His Conservative Party spokesperson subsequently said that this was a regular arrangement for Cameron at the time.
Cameron's bicycle was stolen in May 2009 while he was shopping. It was recovered with the aid of The Sunday Mirror. His bicycle has since been stolen again from near his house. He is an occasional jogger and has raised funds for charities by taking part in the Oxford 5K and the Great Brook Run.
FaithSpeaking of his religious beliefs, Cameron has said: "I've a sort of fairly classic Church of England faith". He states that his politics "is not faith-driven", adding: "I am a Christian, I go to church, I believe in God, but I do not have a direct line." On religious faith in general he has said: "I do think that organised religion can get things wrong but the Church of England and the other churches do play a very important role in society."
Questioned as to whether his faith had ever been tested, Cameron spoke of the birth of his severely disabled eldest son, saying: "You ask yourself, 'If there is a God, why can anything like this happen?'" He went on to state that in some ways the experience had "strengthened" his beliefs.