Five years as Tory leader: David Cameron's big moments

  • Published

It is five years since David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party. Here is a selection of some of the key personal and political events of his time in charge.


David Cameron, at the age of 39, defeats previous frontrunner David Davis to become Conservative leader, having delivered a well-received party conference speech and gained the media's attention with his modernising message.

He promises that the Tories, out of power for eight years, will modernise, and stop "grumbling about today's Britain".

Mr Cameron also says there will be an end to "Punch and Judy" exchanges in the House of Commons, in an effort to engage the public with politics.

A day later, Mr Cameron comes up against Tony Blair at prime minister's questions for the first time.

During exchanges over education policy, he taunts Mr Blair with the line: "I want to talk about the future... you were the future once."

To cheers from his own benches, he also accuses Labour chief whip Hilary Armstrong of "shouting like a child".

It is the first of many heated exchanges between Mr Cameron and Mr Blair, not to mention his successor Gordon Brown.

To prove he is a different kind of Tory leader, Mr Cameron takes a trip to the icy wastes of Norway.

There, he poses with a group of husky dogs, using pictures to remind voters that environmental concerns are key to his brand of conservatism.

Critics ask about the carbon footprint involved, but those around Mr Cameron argue it is an essential part of "detoxifying" the party's image.

"Vote blue, go green" becomes a favourite slogan.

The Camerons, already parents to Ivan and Nancy, have a third child, Arthur Elwen.

Elwen is a name apparently of English origin which means "elf-wise friend", it is reported.

But Mr Cameron says the choice has nothing to do with the popularity of the Lord of the Rings films.

The Tory leader comes in for some mockery when he describes teenaged "hoodies" as "not a problem" in themselves, arguing they need more understanding.

It becomes known as his "hug a hoodie" speech.

A few days later, on a visit to Manchester, photographers capture the image of a young man in a hooded top pretending to shoot Mr Cameron, holding his hand in a gun-like pose.

Mr Cameron uses his first Conservative conference speech as leader, later in the year, to express a hopeful outlook.

"Let optimism beat pessimism, let sunshine win the day, and let everyone know that the Conservative Party is ready - ready to serve, ready to fight, ready to win," he implores delegates.

After weeks of speculation, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, leading in most opinion polls, decides not to call an autumn general election after David Cameron's Conservatives bounce back with a show of unity and an inheritance tax cut proposal at their annual conference.

Mr Cameron describes the decision by Mr Brown as an act of "weakness and indecision".

In a cable sent by a US diplomat in 2008, and leaked last week via the Wikileaks site, shadow foreign secretary William Hague was reported as calling the election-that-never-was a "near-death" experience for the Conservatives.

The Labour leader never recovered his standing after the decision not to go to the country, and Mr Cameron was seen for much of the next two-and-a-half years as a prime minister in waiting.

The Camerons' eldest child, Ivan, dies aged just six, having suffered his whole life from cerebral palsy and severe epilepsy.

Prime minister's questions is suspended as a mark of respect.

Mr Cameron later says in an e-mail to Tory activists that Ivan "leaves a hole in our life so big that words can't describe it... we all just miss him so desperately".

After almost four-and-a-half years as opposition leader, Mr Cameron is finally thrown in to full campaigning action when Prime Minister Gordon Brown calls an election for May 2010.

He manages a largely incident-free campaign, in contrast to Mr Brown, who is forced to apologise to a voter after he is recorded referring to her as "bigoted".

The televised debates between the main party leaders - held for the first time in the UK - are the largest set-piece event of the election.

Mr Cameron is at first overshadowed by the acclaim given to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, but gradually builds up his performance and improves his ratings.

The Conservative leader becomes the youngest prime minister since 1812.

But this is only possible after days of talks between the main parties following the return of a hung parliament - the first since 1974 - at the election.

The Tories and the Liberal Democrats, who both do less well than they had hoped in the election, agree to form a coalition and Mr Cameron enters Downing Street with his pregnant wife Samantha.

After an arduous campaign, the hard work starts in earnest.

Mr Cameron and his new Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg come face to face with the realities of coalition government when they hold a joint press conference in the Downing Street garden.

The press frames the event as a political "love story".

But Mr Cameron looks comically aghast when asked about his one-time description of Mr Clegg as a "joke".

The pair promise, however, to work together in the interests of the country.

The prime minister says he is "very proud" after his wife Samantha gives birth to a girl, their fourth child.

The baby, later named Florence Rose Endellion, is delivered while the family is on holiday in Cornwall.

The Camerons follow the Blairs in having a baby while in office.

Shortly afterwards, the prime minister's father, Ian, dies while on holiday in France.