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Can Labour weaken Cameron with the hacking trial verdict?

25 June 2014

8:57 AM

25 June 2014

8:57 AM

The phone hacking jury will only be about an hour into their continued deliberations when Ed Miliband stands up at Prime Minister’s Questions today, but the Labour leader does seem determined to raise the question of David Cameron’s judgement in hiring Andy Coulson all the same. Harriet Harman did the Labour late shift yesterday on Newsnight in which she pointed out that the Conservative leader ignored warnings about Coulson.

Labour’s thesis is that Cameron hired Coulson in spite of those warnings because he was desperate to get closer to the Murdoch empire. The party is certainly right that Cameron was desperate: the Conservatives were not particularly worth joining in 2007 and so there would not have been an endless queue of former senior tabloid journalists desperate to join the team. Cameron is also a great believer in his gut instinct on people: he believes his convictions about those he meets are right, and he felt a good connection with Coulson. Coulson also had what Cameron needed: not access to the Murdoch empire but an ability to talk to C2 voters, whether or not they were Sun readers. He sharpened up the Conservative brand and was instrumental in saving them from yet another existential crisis.

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All politicians need more advice on talking to C2s, and all politicians continue to desire good ties with the Murdoch empire. Why else would Miliband have posed with the Sun front page (and it is fortunate for him that the jury returned its verdicts two weeks after that image was published, rather than last week when people were still very angry about it)?

But Cameron made a poor judgement: his gut was wrong, and he admitted that yesterday, while making quite clear that Coulson really did do an excellent job for him. The question is whether he is weakened by this poor judgement for the long-term. His apology yesterday suggested both that he felt by speaking quickly he could keep a lid on this situation and that he suspects his party has factored in the hacking trial verdict as one of those things to endure, much like the European elections. My hunch is that it won’t change relations in the Conservative party, even though rebels once named this verdict as a point of maximum danger for Cameron. Those who dislike the Prime Minister already think he has terrible judgement, but are waiting to exact their own judgement on him until after the general election. As for whether Labour can make this electorally damaging for the Conservative party depends on whether the Miliband machine is running smoothly or whether it still has gremlins in the tank, as it did when the Labour leader managed to upset almost everyone by posing with the Sun and then apologising for doing so. The last few weeks have proven that quite a few people at the top of politics really shouldn’t trust their guts so much.

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Show comments
  • lakelander

    Cameron’s judgement has been bad in several instances. Like Churchill, during WW1 and over Gallipoli, he has shown his inexperience. Now he is more experienced.

    But how much better off we would have been with a more mature and rounded individual, say David Davis, in the first place.

    • Wessex Man

      I have a feeling we would have a Tory only Administration and the membership of the Tory Party would not have halved.

      • lakelander

        Neither would UKIP have surged.

        • ButcombeMan

          True, but you are DDs familiar and I claim my 5 pounds.

  • Blindsideflanker

    Zzzzzzzzzzz I doubt if the country really cares a fig about it, This is a Westminster media obsession, which no doubt as it involved Murdoch then the BBC, Guardian, and Labour politicians are going to bore us to death about it.

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    PM question time with the help of Mr.Milibrain retained its entertaining nature. With a few local wars moving global, a charlatan as president of the European Union and the Bank of England behavior and he, Mr. Milibrain talks about Mr. Coulson, a subject in processing not legally concluded. Like in the charge of the light brigade shooting his powder before in range he wasted parliamentary time.

  • Smithersjones2013

    No its small minded Westminster Freakshow navel gazing. A case of a corrupt interfering low-life journo-cum-bureaucrat in a world full of corrupt interfering low-life politicians and bureaucrats. The only novel tning about it is he got caught and is going to be punished.

  • Makroon

    Blah, blah, blah ….. it’s chip paper from years ago, Isabel. People have moved on.

  • Frank

    It seems that Coulson drew the News Intl short straw as the fall guy for the entire management team. It that sense, he deserves respect for bravery, although a tad foolish to have lied to the PM.
    Be very interesting to read the judge’s guidance to the jury. I imagine that yet again we will hear that the CPS “has things to learn”, but possibly the most important of these is not to be out-gunned by your adversaries (and to get the charge absolutely right in each case?)?
    I don’t think that Dave will be affected by Coulson, but think that he will be deluding himself if he thinks that the political dangers of associating with Ms Brooks have gone away for good.

  • CharlietheChump

    “Can Labour weaken Cameron with the hacking trial verdict”?

    No.

  • Ed B

    Everyone makes mistakes:

    Major clung on to the ERM for too long.
    Blair got us mixed up in a disastrous war.
    Brown blew away all the money.
    Cameron made a duff appointment.

    I don’t think that Cameron’s mistake is particularly heinous compared to those of his predecessors, and suspect that the voters will have other things on their minds when it come to voting in 2015.

    • Kitty MLB

      Very well said. But the difference being Cameron didn’t commit a crime
      he just trusted an expert manipulator, even the public thought he seems like a
      nice chap at the wretched inquiry. Whereas Brown’s mistakes nearly lest
      us bankrupt and Blair’s mistakes cost rather a lot of lives.
      This has no effect on anyone’s lives and basically the electorate must be
      bored to the back teeth with the whole affair.

  • Torybushhug

    I don’t know anyone with any more than a passing interest in hacking, it just doesn’t feature. A Westminster village tea cup squall.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    This is a bubble story. I’d rather Cameron was criticised for real problems with how he sees and does his job than this ya-boo nonsense. It really does not matter.

    (Cameron,for instance, oversees thousands of people at GCHQ to whom ‘phone-hacking’ is the merest amateur stuff. They know anything about you that they wish to, and there is no real oversight over what they do with it. Don’t worry about Murdoch.)

    • ButcombeMan

      They do not and there most certainly IS oversight. More than most or maybe any, in the world.

      You should beware of trusting The Grauniad.

  • Tony_E

    Miliband will overplay his hand again. He doesn’t really understand that most people don’t care about this unless they are politically active (and left wing, and desperate to airbrush the Blair/Murdoch years from their CV).

    He will simply get nowhere with this line with anyone but the fools who believe everything the Guardian and the BBC cook up.

    • Ed B

      I don’t think Cameron should be too worried. As you say, Miliband will make a huge meal of this, and all he will achieve is to reinforce his image as a Walter Mittyish wonk.

  • HookesLaw

    The govt have been in power for 4 years, if people do not like Cameron they can think up reasons enough to confiorm that to themselves. Significantly Brookes and her husband (Cameron’s friend) were found not guilty.
    I do not see how Labour can make claims about Cameron wanting to be close the the ‘Murdioch Empire’ since they were desperate to be close as well – to the extent of pyjama parties and Blair taking Brookes to dine at exclusive resaurants when his own wife was away on holidays.
    Lets remember that Miliband hired the man who outed Dr Kelly and McBride sat in the next desk to Gordon Brown. Indeed all the events in question took place when the NOTW was supporting Labour, the original hacking trial took place when Labour were in power and the Met saw fit not to investigate Coulson when he was supporting Labour. Some might consider it strange that they then spend millions investigating Cameron’s friend when he became PM – neither I nor Andrew Mitchell could possibly comment.

    • Wessex Man

      Know him as well do you Hooky babe?

      I don’t think anyone held Call me Dave’s are behind his back we he appointed Coulson!

  • DWWolds

    Labour accuse Cameron of wanting to get closer to the Murdoch empire yet I seem to remember Blair flying half way across the world for a meeting with Murdoch himself. If that was not wanting to get closer to the Murdoch empire just what was it about?

    • Kitty MLB

      Also, Blair being God-Father to the Murdoch baby, also Can we envisage
      that pyjama sleepover at Downing Street whilst Brown were Prime Minister.
      Oh, and even Milipede was at times were present at the Murdoch garden
      parties. The utter shamefaced hypocrisy of Labour is breath taking.

      • DWWolds

        That hypocrisy is apparent virtually every time they open their mouths. Burnham is a prime example and Balls another. This morning on the Today programme Balls was making the accusation that this government – and particularly the Conservative element of it – would leave office with a deficit of £70bn. There was no mention of the fact that when Labour left office it was £160bn. And – what a surprise! – the interviewer didn’t raise that point.

        • Mynydd

          What point didn’t the interviewer raise, would that be that Mr Cameron/Osborne said they would clear the deficit by 2015.

          • Kitty MLB

            The deficit that was far larger then first realised. So Balls was
            saying ‘ Too Far Too Fast’ how much longer would it have taken him to deal with the deal with the deficit? Just gerrymandering from the beginning,party before country as usual.

          • realfish

            And would have been but for the 2010 – 2012 Eurozone crises.
            But of course only Labour is allowed to claim they were knocked off course by an economic crisis.

          • DWWolds

            The point the interviewer did not raise was that Labour left behind a £160bn deficit. The interviewer could have also raised some further points about the mess left behind by Labour. One of those was that the depression was deeper than originally thought. Another was that Brown massively increased welfare spending on the basis that the increase would be paid for by the tax take supplied by all those wicked bankers. When those bankers ceased to pay the taxes the commitment to the increased welfare spending was still there. That is one of the key reasons why we have to cut our spending.

    • realfish

      Not only did Bliar fly across the world, we found, from Leveson, that Chancellor Gordon Brown insisted on his own private meetings when Murdoch was in town, to echo the meetings that Bliar was having with the NC Chief.

  • BigAl

    Labour run the risk of making sure the public loses the remaining confidence it has in politicians as a whole. You cannot selectively trash politicians when you use a hypocritical argument and the people know this.

    Cameron’s judgement was poor but so is Milibands…..

    We need some statesmanship and leadership from our politicians, the public are tiring of this mindless petty points scoring which masquerades as ‘policy’.

    • HookesLaw

      Yes.
      But then again Coulson had resigned from the NOTW claiming he did not know about phone hacking and the police did not pursue any more enquiries. And of course the central claim from the Guardian that the NOTW deliberately deleted the missing girls voicemails was proved to be unfounded. As I recall their apology was somewhat less fulsome than Cameron’s. Based on this the Guardian mounted a campaign against a fellow newspaper such that it closed down (so much for press freedom).
      The missing story behind all this is a fix up between the lefty BBC and Guardian to prevent News International taking full control of SKY.

      • Wessex Man

        Now listen here Hoo zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Jez

    Probably not with that slimy oddball in charge.

  • Maurice_Gosfield

    That Cameron has poor judgement is no secret. We’ve seen it again this week as he strides towards another humiliation in Europe, proclaiming that he’s being true to his principles.
    It’s astonishing that no-one in the Conservative party has the courage or nous to point this out.

    • Iodine

      Clearly you are correct re Coulson but what do you want him to do with Junkers bend over and accept him?

    • Torybushhug

      I’d sooner a man that follows his conviction and fails than the labour euro lapdogs such as the supine cowardly buzz word using Douglas Alexander robot.

    • HookesLaw

      What is wrong about the judgement of not wanting to see Junkner as EU President? Would he display better judgement by doing nothing and seeing him gain office unopposed or is he doing the right thing by voicing his complaints?
      Strikes me you do not display good judgement.

      • Wessex Man

        well it would wouldn’t it, the fact is if he was going to challenge this appointment he should have made sure he had cast iron backing from other countries. It now appears that he only has ONE ally here and has allowed Jean-Claude Junckers to lay into him telling the world that Cameron has no common sense.

        magic!

    • Holly

      Being ‘humiliated’ in Europe for standing against something/someone you reckon is BAD for the UK, is ‘poor judgement’ in your view?
      It’s more astonishing that folk are trying to get this line to get any traction with the public.
      There would have been a shriek, only dogs would be able to hear it, if Cameron had kept his view of Juncker to himself, and Miliband & Co would be spouting their usual self-praise that they would have, ‘done it differently’.

  • Holly

    I hope Miliband will react like he did when he first became Labour leader, behave like a dog with a bone, and refuse to let it go….Push, and push until it is blindingly obvious to more and more people just how opportunistic he is.

  • Colonel Mustard

    They’ll try. They have been peddling the “more questions to answer” line today to try to keep the story alive, aided and abetted by the BBC of course. This coming from the party of Campbell and McBride. The opportunism of Labour in always trying to score points against their opposition (even when in government) is complemented by their hypocritical whining when any other party attempts to do it to them.

    One day, maybe, they will get the comeuppance that is long overdue and be properly taken apart for their many crimes against the people of England.

    • Kitty MLB

      Indeed Colonel, and those criminals are elected politicians in the HOC and HOL and are still present in their jobs, their shamefaced hypocrisy is never ending. Cameron was far too trusting but Coulson was clearly a very eloquent
      manipulator that deceived many. And all this happened under Labours watch
      whilst Blair and Brown were busy crawling to Murdoch.

      • Holly

        Cameron was far too trusting of Blair over Iraq, and thousands of ‘normal’ people WARNED the pair of them that it was a ‘BAD’ move…
        Did they listen????
        The problem is, that you are not in the wrong when taking someone at their word at the moment they give it.

        • Kitty MLB

          The Government of the day is privy to a lot of information
          that it cannot share with the opposition. How would anyone
          thought that Blair would sink to such depths as to mislead
          parliament. Tony Blair, the First Minister of the Queen said
          there were WMD in Iraq. We now know him to have been a
          deluded, treasonous and dishonest serpent of a man.
          Cameron may be many things and has many faults but
          he is nothing like Blair and is a decent man.

          • Wessex Man

            He may well be nothing like Blair but he helped create a worse regime in Lybia along with the French and was all for a bombing campaign in Syria against Assad, now look at what the opposition are doing in Iraq!

            His childish baiting of female MPs in the Commons with crude references that belong in the playground.

            His appalling lack of judgement with Maria Miller and the EU President to be Juncker, his pathetic belief that he will be able to negotiate any change in the EU and trust of allies like the Poles.

            His wearing of socks with sandals.

            He never thinks through his actions and what the results will be show him to be an unfit Premier.

            • Kitty MLB

              What is happening in Iraq is the consequence of the first
              Iraqi war and the fact Saddam Hussein had been removed.
              We in the West thought they’d all behave like us once that
              dictator was removed. But in reality they are all mini dictators,
              we didn’t like Hussein but at least he kept them under control,
              harsh but true.
              The Prime Minister is never crude.
              Cameron doesn’t approve of Juncker, should he just be quiet
              about it, and by the way, he doesn’t support the EU as much as you assume he does.
              His action are never done with any malice, his intensions are
              always honourable and when he makes mistakes he always
              apologises.
              Yes, socks with sandals is unforgiveable.

              • Wessex Man

                the Prime Minister is never crude? then why did he say about his own MP Nadine Dorries that he understands she is Extremely frustrated, then turnig to his team and gurning and repeatedly telling Angela Eagle to Calm down dear. Both at PM’s Questiond knowing they won’t get the chance to reply?

                I don’t approve of Juncker but I would have made sure I had enough allies to beat before laying myself open for ridicule.

                • Kitty MLB

                  Oh come on it was the smutty little minds of others that made
                  something of the Nadine Dorries remark, he didn’t know why
                  others were laughing until it was pointed out.
                  And the ‘ calm down dear’ remark was a joke, like the advert,
                  but obviously the PC correct mob became overly exited.

              • Fergus Pickering

                Not at all. It is the English way. Socks with sandals is part of what we are about.

                • Kitty MLB

                  How very quaint, pink faced chaps wearing socks with sandals.
                  We are about a lot more then footwear. You chaps used to wear bowler hats once and ladies wore frilly pinafores.
                  You have to wear socks with sandals when climbing.
                  But if you chaps want to do so, no one can stop you.
                  There is probably an issue with cheesy feet anyway.

              • ButcombeMan

                “We in the West thought they’d all behave like us once that
                dictator was removed”.

                You Dear Kitty are one of THE most deluded commentators on here.

                No one with brains believed that. Those who pretended to believe it (Blair) had other motives.

                • Kitty MLB

                  And you dear man, are one of the most charming commentators here.But I didn’t
                  create the ludicrous phrase ‘Arab Spring’
                  I assume they like murdering each other
                  and spend friday evening in a pub eating
                  pork scratchings and drinking beer, whist
                  bragging about it.

            • global city

              Like all those Mcmilllanite Tories who are exposed as inept when thinking is demanded of them, rather than just the projection of paternal goodness.

          • ButcombeMan

            Crap.

            He is without brains or “bottom”.

            Those of us who would support him, who have given years of that.support to his predecessors, do not know what he stands for.

            HE did that.

            HE ALONE did that.

            He has been absolutely careless with his core supporters.

            He is not touching the C1 and C2s who make the difference and could well support the Tories.

            He has destroyed the Tory party

          • ButcombeMan

            Your first line is wrong. The government DOES share information in times of crisis on what are termed “Privy Council Terms”.

            What did Bliar and Co tell IDS & the Tories?

            Did they mislead them on Privy Council Terms?.

        • Tony_E

          Holly, I think you’re missing the point with the Iraq war. Before there was a vote, Blair had already moved the troops and equipment. Had we backed down at that point, no-one would ever have taken the threat of British Military Action seriously ever again. Our allies would not trust us, and our enemies would not fear us.

          Blair played the commons, and left them with no choice whatsoever in strategic and geopolitical terms. At the time, Cameron was an opposition MP with no access to classified information.

          • Holly

            My point exactly!
            Millions of people WORLDWIDE trusted Blair.
            Should they ALL apologise?

            • ButcombeMan

              Yes.

        • ButcombeMan

          IDS over Iraq.

          Not Cameron.

          IDS was suckered.

    • Mynydd

      You have missed the point it’s not about Labour it’s about the general public Mr Cameron has lost it

      • Colonel Mustard

        No, it’s about Labour. It’s always about Labour as the on cue arrival of their online rebuttal unit tagging trolls demonstrates. Sent out to scour the net for articles on this story and post their propaganda.

    • AtMyDeskToday

      “and be properly taken apart for their many crimes against the people of England.”

      While accepting everything you say, it’s worth pointing out that the breadth of their crimes stretches further than simply England. Try the UK.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Agreed.

    • jack mustard

      “… the party of Campbell and McBride” – dislikeablke maybe. But not convicted criminals. You are guilty of the petty point scoring of which you accuse your opponents.

  • an ex-tory voter

    Labour were far closer to the Murdoch empire than the Tories. Any traction Labour get in attacking Cameron will limited and somewhat self-defeating because “the mud will also stick to them”.

    The fact is that as far as the voters are concerned “they are all in it together”.

    • ButcombeMan

      A very good point which Cameron failed to capitalise on.

  • LadyDingDong

    I must apologise to all Speccie readers. In 1974 I voted Labour and contributed to the election of the dire Wilson government and the demise of British industry, and in 1975 I voted to remain in the Common Market leading to the end of British sovereignty. These terrible lapses in judgement will remain with me for the rest of my life and I hope you can all find it within your hearts to forgive me.

    • Kitty MLB

      Your ladyship, you are always very gracious and polite. And have nothing
      to ever apologise for. Although I were a small child then, I understand politicians in those days had principles, so therefore it was possible to trust them. Oh I once voted Lib Dem whilst at university…I were there for 5 years
      so blame being a scatterbrain student. Never done it since.

      • AtMyDeskToday

        “Although I were” and “I were there”

        You went to university?

        • Kitty MLB

          Yes indeed. I profoundly apologise for the typo.
          And for your excellent manners in telling me so. You obviously
          are Scottish, so such observations are the upmost importance
          to you.

          • AtMyDeskToday

            I accept your apology with the grace that is customary of my race. As to importance, only too happy to help out a scatterbrain.

      • Wessex Man

        You understand that politicians in those days had principles? Heath, the tory PM who took this country into the EEC admitted that he knew it would evolve into the EU and that he mislead the country!

        The only difference between then and now is that most of us don’t trust any of them.

        • Kitty MLB

          But no one had any idea that the EU was to become the beast
          it is today nor could they know the consequences.
          If it were just a few countries, with rules and they all behaved,
          it may have been different.

          • Wessex Man

            it was planned from the very first for it to become the beast that it is today, which is why I voted to get out of it in the referendum given to the country by Wilson after Heath took us in.

          • ButcombeMan

            Unbelievable rubbish

            • Kitty MLB

              Yes I know, wise and ancient kipper sages
              in days of olde, would have seen into the future. Only UKIP can save this land from
              EU and its miscreant slaves Lib/Lab/Con’s.

    • HookesLaw

      I can forgive lots of things but not voting for Labour in 1974. You voted to give in to blackmail.
      There has not been an end to British sovereignty.

      • LadyDingDong

        Loathe as I am to respond to irritating lefties and Social Democrats, I am prepared to say that, even the lying crook Harold Wilson was preferable to the devious, incompetent, traitorous scumbag Grocer Heath. As for “There has not been an end to British sovereignty” you are a deluded idiot and could be a clone of that other flea on the posterior of humanity, telemuckwit.

        • dmitri the impostor

          Exactly. You had your marching orders in 1974 and thereby stand acquitted.

          ‘Judas was paid! Judas was paid!’

        • Wessex Man

          Ah my Lady, you are back on the best of form!

    • Holly

      ‘These terrible lapses in judgement will remain with me…
      And so they should!
      What were you thinking???
      I was 14, so didn’t, and can sleep easier.
      Being ‘conned’ is NOT a lapse of judgement!
      Lets hope the public remember Labour’s history while in office, and keep them out until those born tomorrow turn 80.
      Repeat that every day, and Labour would be out of power for a very long time…
      That IS ‘good judgement’.

  • realfish

    So if Harman, Prescott and others, back in 2007 knew that Coulson and the News of the World were phone hacking…what did they as member of the Government of the day do about it?

    Miliband needs to be careful that his sanctimony doesn’t get the better of him today, for Labour have serious questions to answer too.

    • Colonel Mustard

      They might have serious questions to answer but I doubt they’ll get asked. Slippery Labour are past masters at airbrushing out their past, dodging responsibility and avoiding blame. They were in power from 1997 to 2010 but somehow, incredibly, all Britain’s problems have only arisen in the last four years. The line of muppets on the opposition front bench expect the media to believe they were not part of and party to the 13 years of New Labour and somewhat mind-bogglingly that line is largely swallowed. If it had been the Tories in power during those years and Labour now in government the country would be awash with public enquiries and emotive hand-wringing about how wicked they were.

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