Friday, 21 January 2011

Andy Coulson's exit - a storm in a Westminster village teacup

The resignation of David Cameron’s director of communications Andy Coulson today is a storm in a Westminster village teacup.
Last September I wrote: “Making no judgement on Coulson’s innocence or guilt, I expect David Cameron to let Coulson go. It’s that old thing when the press chief becomes the story...”
My conclusion: “I’m certain any departure will have little resonance in the country as a whole” looks about right too. But for yesterday, at least, the story dwarfed more serious fare in Alan Johnson’s resignation and Tony Blair’s second date with the Iraq Inquiry.
The Prime Minister’s judgement in appointing Coulson 3½ years ago is under fire from Opposition quarters. It’s true he took a risk giving a top job to a man who had previously resigned as editor of the News of the World because phone hacking had occurred on his watch.
To be ignorant of how his news staff was illegally breaking stories displays aloofness bordering on incompetence - and that's to give Coulson the benefit of the doubt.
Yet Cameron recognised Coulson’s working class background brought an insight into what mattered to ordinary voters, which his public school acolytes could never hope to fathom. It was useful too that Coulson was well placed to earn Cameron the endorsement of Rupert Murdoch, owner of The Times and The Sun newspapers.
I can’t tell you if Coulson was good at his job but Cameron is in residence at No. 10 and not Gordon Brown.
If timing the Coulson announcement to coincide with Tony Blair’s return to the Iraq Inquiry hot seat was intended to divert attention away from the resignation, it failed.
The Tories would much prefer political commentators had focused on Ed Balls replacing Johnson as Shadow Chancellor and some of the jaw-dropping aspects of Blair’s responses. These included insights into his casual approach to advice about the legality of the Iraq invasion; how he kept his Cabinet colleagues in the dark; and his lapdog support of George Bush.
A week from now the Coulson affair will be a closed chapter as far as the government is concerned, although the NoW phone hacking saga itself has a lot further to run.

3 comments:

  1. If thousands of people are involved [including possibly the last PM] how did mobile phone blagging become routine?

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  2. Mobile technology + scaled down reporter numbers + circulation wars + eroded levels of integrity = phone hacking scandal GC

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  3. Coulson is 'coming back' in October.

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What do you think? GC