As David Cameron leaves Number 10 Downing Street, having been Prime Minister for six years and Conservative Party leader for almost 11, his leadership and legacy are being appraised from just about every angle. But one that hasn’t had a lot of attention is the Tories’ electoral performance with Cameron at the helm.
The outgoing PM’s overall net gain in seats since the election before he became leader of his party is 139. Neither Tony Blair (+87) and Margaret Thatcher (+99) quite made it into three figures, nor has anyone since Clement Attlee, who became Labour leader when the party had only 52 seats. Cameron himself, it is often forgotten, took over the the Conservatives with just 192 seats.
In terms of vote share, Cameron is the first PM since Lord Salisbury in 1900 to increase his party’s vote share after a term of longer than two years. Thatcher came close in 1987, increasing the Tory vote but losing 0.2 percentage points in share as turnout rose.
He also won the 2011 local elections, which only Blair and Thatcher had managed while in government previously.
However, as has also been widely discussed, David Cameron is also the first UK Prime Minister to lose a national referendum, and a hugely significant one at that. How psephological history judges him will depend on the relative weight given to these two aspects of his record.