10 July 2009

Cameron’s high wire act


There are likely to be at least three inquiries that could all focus in part on Andy Coulson’s role when he was editor of the NOTW.  Not only that but the Guardian highlights Tory backbenchers concerns over Cameron’s behaviour:

Some backbenchers said the decision to stand by Coulson highlighted a pattern of behaviour by Cameron: that he protects members of his inner circle while doing little to support other Conservatives. There was particular anger at Cameron's claim that he believed in giving people a second chance, something he did not show to veteran Tory MPs who were ordered to stand down by the leadership when embarrassing details of their expenses were published.

Perhaps the best analysis belongs to Steve Richards, who can be relied on to keep a level head when a political crisis is brewing. He highlights discontent within the Shadow Cabinet towards Coulson.  However, his key message is that Coulson is now the story and will become more so when he gives evidence:

Coulson's appearance in front of one of these committees will be a box office event. This is also a story in which a thousand different agendas spring in to life. It is a media story.

His conclusion is spot on:

The Conservatives' approach to spending and public services matter much more than the ways in which Coulson seeks to present their policies or what he did at the News of the World. Even so Cameron has a big problem as the following question highlights. Who does he turn to for advice about how to handle the media's sudden interest in his Director of Communications?

My guess is that the Guardian revelations are over, unless they decide to reveal the names of the journalists involved with ‘Hackgate’.  For obvious reasons, the press will not wish to give oxygen to the story and today’s front pages indicate this.  However, the Labour party will keep up the pressure on Coulson’s role and Cameron’s judgement.

There are three key questions overhanging the high risk strategy that Cameron has adopted.  How will Labour party continue to play this, now that the police have decided not to reopen their inquires?  Will more revelations on Coulson’s role be exposed?  Finally, how will Coulson perform under the full glare of the media when he appears in front of the select committee?

All these unknown unknowns make the outcome of Hackgate impossible to predict.  What is certain is that Cameron is taking unnecessary risks in wanting to protect his right-hand man, especially as all future events are outside his control.

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1 comment:

  1. "Perhaps the best analysis belongs to Steve Richards"

    You're such a wag. At least, I hope you are.