QUENTIN LETTS: Dave cut a reassuringly silken figure in House of Lords

QUENTIN LETTS: Dave cut a reassuringly silken figure in the House of Lords, his manner creamy as the lemon syllabub at Boodle’s

To the ermine borne, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton shimmered into the House of Lords to make his maiden speech. Beaming pleasure greeted him on all sides.

After the terrors of recent years, when democracy’s dank tide lapped at their lordships’ tootsies, here was a reasssuringly silken figure, the voice smoky, the suit worthy of Savile Row. 

His manner? Creamy as the lemon syllabub at Boodle’s.

‘Make it all right, nursey, make that nasty populism go away,’ quavered peers during the Brexit and Johnson years. 

Now their little unelected heads are poking back out of the Anderson shelter. It may be safe, once more, to be openly contemptuous of public opinion.

Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton speaking in the House of Lords

He took is seat in the upper chamber a week after his shock return to government

Lord Cameron returned to government earlier this month, seven years after he quit as prime minister

They think a Starmer government a dead cert and Lord Cameron will see them safely home until then and make sure nothing radical is done. Won’t he? 

Dave, who started the day with hands in pocket while his bags were portered by some female underling, stroked the upper house like a fiddle. He opened by saying ‘truly it was an honour’ to become a member. 

An honour to sit among the careerists and the crocked and yesterday’s pooh-bahs? He had ‘always respected their patience and diligence’. 

Having been in the Commons for 15 years, he hoped he would be allowed ‘many more years in this place’. Lord Cameron is 57.

He recalled being in the gallery as a teenager when ‘Lord Macmillan’ (he meant the Earl of Stockton) made his maiden speech in 1984. 

That speech ‘eviscerated’ Margaret Thatcher’s government but Lord Cameron intended no such disrespect to the current PM, saying what a ‘strong and capable’ chap Rishi Sunak was.

This was followed by an Etonian-classicist dig at Boris for seeing ‘illusions’. They liked that. He worked in a droll allusion to Brexit by saying he had not spent his absence from politics dreaming of ‘taking back control’. 

By now there were purrs of approval, for that and for a mention of his ministerial sidekick Andrew Mitchell, who is as damp as a spaniel’s snout, and therefore much adored by the Blob.

The old despatch-box stance, familiar from his Commons years, had reasserted itself: right foot forward, the neck pulled back while springy fingers casually turned the sheets of his neatly typed speech. 

Spectacles rested unworn to one side. His hair, which he had given a lot of patting before being called to speak, was flawless.

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Lord David Cameron and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

The legislation under discussion, since you ask, was the second reading of a largely technical bill to enable us to join the Pacific trade pact known as the CPTPP – a great breakthrough made possible only by Brexit. 

Not that the dreaded B word, which remains capable of giving Viscount Hailsham seizures, was mentioned. Not once.

Lord Cameron picked his way round those CPTPP initials with care. Others were less successful in this regard. Lord Lamont (Con) upended his Scrabble hand a couple of times.

Lamont was once Dave’s boss and recalled some crisis when the young adviser gave him an enormous, torpedo-length Cuban cigar with the note ‘by the time you have smoked this, all your troubles will be over’. Politics has always and will always be neuralgic. That is what attracts the main players to it. 

They like to be jangled and vexed, considering it a test of their professionalism. The stress drug. 

More minor figures may just be drawn to the Lords by the daily allowance, the title, and a chance of stopping the Conservatives getting any Rwanda flights off the ground.

On the Crossbenches sat various inertia merchants from the mandarinate and nut-brown know-alls from the upper clerestories of HM diplomatic service.

On the opposition side perched ancients of the New Labour years, including that man Goldsmith whose legal advice was so useful to Tony Blair. 

Among the Lib Dems: two vaunting revolutionaries without ties. One of them only made it to the Lords because party managers wanted to give his safe Commons seat to Nick Clegg. How lucky we are.

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