‘DADDY’S home.” Of all the reactions to David Cameron’s surprise return to frontline politics last week – the one tweeted out by Conservative broadcaster Iain Dale – comfortably wins the prize for the most boak-inducing.

The modern Conservative Party has ­parental complexes that would keep ­Sigmund Freud up at night.

On the maternal side, generations of Tory MPs are still haunted by the ghost of ­Margaret Thatcher and the blood guilt of her deposition.

If lunatic asylums used to be full of ­people who believed they were Napoleon, then the government benches in ­Westminster still seem full of characters who believe the Iron Lady’s ectoplasm has a special interest in them.

READ MORE: Ruth Wishart: Politics needs some giants amid a shortage of talent

If you found out Penny Mordaunt (below) kept a royal blue ritual circle in her office and made nightly attempts to contact the former PM’s spirit by slaughtering a black cockerel with Geoffrey Howe’s old paper knife while lustily singing God Save The King – well, it’d be seriously on-brand.

The National: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 4: Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, gestures as she speaks during the final day of the Conservative Party Conference on October 4, 2023 in Manchester, England. Rishi Sunak delivers his first speech as

But “daddy’s home”? Urgh. Maybe it’s because so many members of the ­cabinet attended private boarding schools. Life shoved them into the adult world ­emotionally half-made, still searching for the mummies and daddies who left them at the school gates. You get the impression that through politics, for some of them, the quest continues.

The enthusiastic laundering of ­Cameron’s reputation last week – from the lightweight, chillaxing prime minister who visited ­austerity on the country, screwed up EU ­negotiations, screwed up party ­management and screwed up the Brexit referendum campaign – into a statesmanlike beacon of Britain’s lost “rational, respectful politics” ought to be the stuff of the Twilight Zone.

But because this alternative reality ­surrounds us all the time – on print, on air, on-screen – and almost everyone invited to contribute intones the same false memories so earnestly – call bullshit, and you sound awfully shrill.

It wasn’t so long ago when sensible ­centrists were instructing us to breathe a sigh of relief that Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt were taking back control of their party. The new Tory leadership team were hailed almost universally and entirely unironically across the British media as the “adults back in charge”.

Last week the UK Supreme Court ruled the UK Government’s Rwanda policy was unlawful – not because of the ­European Convention on Human Rights or the Strasbourg Court, but because of Britain’s own immigration rules.

READ MORE: Africa is perfectly positioned to fight back against 'Global Britain'

As Lord Reed pointed out in his ­judgment, as recently as 2021, the UK Government has criticised Rwanda ­“extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture”. Just five years ago, “Rwandan police fired live ammunition at refugees protesting over cuts to food rations, killing at least 12 people”.

Adult ideas the undynamic duo have floated so far now include: Declaring Rwanda a “safe third country” in law, even if the evidence doesn’t suggest it is one in reality, falsely blaming the European Convention on Human Rights for last week’s Supreme Court defeat – thus talking-up the potential for the UK to rat on its international obligations and scrapping human rights regimes ­created in the wake of the Second World War.

They’ve also established a new cabinet minister for “common sense” to fight the “war on woke”, battled a fictional war on motorists, resisted an imaginary tax on meat, and headed off the non-existent threat that “15-minute cities” would be ­local authority gulags.

On the economic and fiscal front, their “grown-up” proposals now include: Awarding their kids a significant tax cut when they pop their clogs by cutting ­inheritance tax for the ultra-wealthy accompanied by a renewed focus on recipients of social security, prying ­prescriptions from the hands of the jobless who’re to be papped even further out of safety net so long as they aren’t actively seeking work.

This Government – which has yet to encounter a social issue for which ­crackdowns are not the solution – is ­finally to crack down on the teeth of the unemployed. I suppose scrapping the “hated sugar tax” has created new ­opportunities to weaponise the gums of Britain’s benefit-sanctioned and poor.

READ MORE: Stuart Cosgrove: London stranglehold is stifling Scottish creativity

Inevitably, some of these ingenious ­exercises in “grown-up politics” have been welcomed by the designated adults in the Labour Party going into this ­weekend. ­Under Keir Starmer’s ­leadership, we should only expect this perverse ­definition of political adulthood to go from strength to strength.

Because if this is your idea of “adult politics”, you should put your name ­forward for Britain’s morning media round because the only people who could conceivably think this roll call of folly­, self-interest and cynical ­fearmongering has the mark of “grown-up politics” are the relentless circus of clowns whose views our ­broadcasters diligently ­ensure are ­disseminated nationally on surround-sound and across all platforms every day of every week.

British political commentators must rank as amongst the most credulous bozos in creation. Amnesia and a flair for nostalgia about the very recent past shouldn’t be essential qualifications for writers about politics – but you ­encounter them both, time and again in British ­public life. The latest effort to rehabilitate Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton – and the pompous and deferential terms in which this has been undertaken – is just the latest manifestation of a political project we should all be familiar with.

Because recent experience should have taught us that centrist airheads are ­content not only to watch politicians bleaching their political linen in public – they often offer to fetch the soap for them.

The National: Former Prime Minister Theresa May in Conversation : The Abuse of Power, at the Gloucester History Festival.  Image: Paul Nicholls

Theresa May (above) – the architect of the hostile environment, who was telling tall tales about the ECHR before it became fashionable – has already been rebranded as a paragon of virtue by the same chumps because she’s turned in a few tokenistic objections to aspects of Boris Johnson’s policies. Cameron is now receiving the same treatment and is the beneficiary of the same baseless nostalgia for a fictional past.

If Suella made you long for Priti Patel, if Patel made you yearn for the smack of firm government May used to apply out of the Home Office – then I can only ­conclude you’re an idiot who wasn’t really paying attention.

Scratch this Freudian longing for a respectable father figure to explain the bad thing the government intends to do in a plummy voice – it turns out all these people are about is style and tone.

Promise to put the boot into the poor like a smoothy, take the time to frame your social punishments as necessary and ­sensible policies for a happier ­Britain – and it turns out great swathes of the media are quite content to overlook the xenophobia you toyed with, the jingoism you weaponised, and the cynical thrill of building your political career on the backs of the poor and the disabled, and will enthusiastically write you up as a ­reasonable fellow with his heart in the right place.

But say the quiet part out loud; seem properly enthusiastic about the political cruelty the Etonians imposed in a cold-blooded and socially distant way scant few years ago and it’s to the bad fire with you.

At least the authentically bloodthirsty enthusiasts for more government cruelty towards refugees, migrants, foreigners and British subjects they consider workshy and idle can lay claim to a degree of political consistency.

But “moderate, centrist, socially ­liberal, fiscal conservatives” who wring their hands at what their government has done, who look back longingly at Britain’s ­recent past for a better, ­nobler government aren’t just having you on – they’re in the grip of wholesale self-deception.