Friday 27th June
Every Prime Minister has at least one terrible week, where events conspire to collect together a series of mistakes ,and everything looks bleak. Tony Blair had a couple and so did Gordon Brown. It is often in these moments of crisis that their reputation is forged. Tony Blair seemed to brazen things out and at the time he seemed to sail the boat successfully into calmer waters. No such luck for Gordon, who through no fault of his own had the financial crash to deal with. As it happens he dealt with it quite well, saving Halifax- Bank of Scotland by persuading Lloyds to buy it, and almost nationalizing Royal Bank of Scotland too. Of course he got no thanks for this. Maybe the difference was that Blair had Alistair Cameron by his side, who was so successful at news management that Cameron himself felt it a major priority to have someone like that on his team. Which brings us to Andy Coulson again.
Coulson was hired while Cameron was still in opposition and trying to get the Tories elected after thirteen years. His task was to change the perception that the Tories were the “Nasty” party, and before he got elected he was largely though not completely successful. The Press were totally hostile to Gordon and with them on his side he should have won an outright majority. But he didn’t. Then when the phone hacking scandal hit he was a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights, and was outplayed by Ed Milliband and forced into the Leveson enquiry. Coulson resigned and was eventually tried and this week found guilty on four charges, though the trial was still ongoing. Cameron thought that by making his c0mplete ‘apology’ his troubles would go away. He got criticized by the Judge for making it and even in this he insisted that he had been given repeated assurances by Coulson that there was nothing else to come out about phone-hacking. A strange defence – I was lied to – but there you go. But it now transpires that Coulson was not subjected to the level of vetting that normally applies when Cameron became P.M. So as well as simply Cameron’s judgement being questioned there is a further question as to was undue influence put on the Civil Service.
As if by some evil synchronicity Cameron has also backed himself into a reidiculous corner over Europe. He has personified his opposition to the majority choice for EU president, Mr. Junckers and almost insulted the man. Not only does this make him look ridiculous, but he has further antagonised any friends he might have had in Europe by forcing a vote he must lose on the heads of Government meeting this weekend.
So, a terrible week all round. It probably won’t change many people’s voting intentions, but it is fun to watch.