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Who is David Cameron? Elusive leader at heart of UK election

Published:Thursday | May 7, 2015 | 12:00 AM


David Cameron is fighting for his political life in Britain's election. But it sure doesn't look like it.

For much of the monthlong campaign, Cameron has appeared relaxed, even disengaged. Critics say Cameron doesn't seem as hungry to win as Labour rival Ed Miliband.

Yet polls put Cameron's Conservatives and Labour neck and neck. Smaller forces from left and right are eroding both parties' support, and neither looks likely to win a majority in Parliament. If Cameron fails to win a second term as prime minister today, he will almost certainly be dumped as Tory leader.

"The poleaxe is hanging over his head," said David Seawright, senior lecturer in British politics at the University of Leeds, citing a maxim of Winston Churchill: If a leader is no good, "he must be poleaxed".

Cameron's apparent relaxation fits with the way opponents see the 48-year-old politician: as a privileged smoothie who hates to break a sweat. Cameron values work-life balance, spends as much time as possible with his wife Samantha and three children, and is depicted in the press as the PM who likes to "chillax".

In the final days of the race, Cameron worked hard to combat the impression that he was coasting. He addressed meeting halls and factory floors without jacket or tie, gesticulating emphatically, sleeves rolled up over meaty forearms.