Coffee House

Ed Miliband bruises Cameron over Coulson. But will it make a difference?

25 June 2014

4:38 PM

25 June 2014

4:38 PM

The pressure was all on Miliband today. With Cameron hurt, he needed to show that he can still press home an advantage.

First, we all had to listen to the Speaker, who rather enjoys listening to himself. He began with a long and winding overture about the dangers of prejudicing the Coulson trial. One sentence would have done it: yesterday’s convictions are mentionable, those due today aren’t.

But he rambled on and on. His legal witterings were delivered with all the clunking sonorities and ham pauses of an under-employed luvvie delivering the Gettysburg address. And he couldn’t stop interfering during the debate.

Miliband had carefully planned his ambush and committed its wording to memory. ‘For four years the prime minister’s hand-picked closest adviser was a criminal,’ he said. ‘He brought disgrace to Downing Street.’ Miliband then took MPs through the three specific warnings Cameron might have heeded about Coulson’s conduct. From the Guardian, from Nick Clegg, from the New York Times.

Bercow interrupted him twice. This seriously disrupted Miliband’s flow, and deprived his onslaught of momentum. No wonder the opposition leader’s face was thunderous by the end.

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Cameron dodged the bullets by scarpering behind the Leveson report and quoting the bits that exonerated him. But he made an unforced error in the dying moments. Quick-thinking Miliband capitalised on it. Asked if Gus O’Donnell had raised concerns about Coulson’s suitability, Cameron airily replied that Leveson had dealt with that, along everything else. Leveson had not. Miliband challenged the PM on this. And he finished with his favourite new refrain: ‘He brought a criminal into Downing Street.’

Labour’s backbenchers punched away at the bruise. Ronnie Campbell had a different take on Labour’s killer soundbite. He said Cameron had ‘made history by employing a crook at Number 10.’ His rolling northern vowels gave ‘crook’ the same length as ‘luke’, which sounds a lot sterner.

Cameron reached for the biteback button and invoked Labour’s many blunders on spin. Dodgy dossiers, burying bad news, Damian McBride.

More missiles came his way. Yesterday he posed as a golden-hearted saviour who had generously offered Coulson ‘a second chance’. Chris Bryant said this revealed Cameron’s true estimate of Coulson. As a wrong’un all along. ‘He knew from the beginning he was taking a criminal into Downing Street.’

All together now…

Philip Davies rallied to the PM’s aid. He cited submissions made to select committees that supported Cameron’s judgment on Coulson. And he explained why Labour is kicking up a frantic hoo-ha about these trials: to deflect attention from their rudderless, clueless, friendless, principle-dodging and popularity-averse leader.

‘The hon. gentlemen put it rather better than I did,’ said Cameron. ‘Thank you.’

After that the PM rather retreated under Labour’s attacks. He leaned back, with his pink jowls squished out, and his little eyes glazing over, looking like an uppity shop-boy freezing out a difficult customer.

Miliband will be relieved to have landed some blows today. And his ‘criminal in Downing Street’ line will get lots of air-play. But is it that much of a novelty? I seem to recall a Liberal prime minister from Llanystumdwy who wasn’t always on the right side of the law.


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Show comments
  • http://www.workinprogress.com Nicetime

    Milliband is cynical and opportunistic, but Cameron was a fool in thinking he could (or should) try to replicate Blair’s misgovernance by spin. The reason he employed a tabloid bully like Coulson was because he wanted the same relationship with the press that Blair had enjoyed under Campbell and the others. He wanted the bear in the tent pissing out. And half the reason that ‘Lord’ Prescott, the NYT, the Guardian and all those other doyens of impartial and rational analysis were ‘warning’ against Coulson was probably because they were afraid he might be effective and they didn’t want to be the ones getting pissed on. The Tories make their worst mistakes when they follow an agenda set by Labour. That’s the only reason Cameron was because he was seen as Blair-lite. All else follows from that

  • Steve Briscoe

    keep up the good work Ed we support press regulation and so do other people…

    • Seldom Seen

      Press regulation? Not in my name, Mr Briscoe. Keep it to the singular not the plural, if you don’t mind

  • Steve Briscoe

    We are told that Mr cameron is a safe pair of hands by the press but this is a massive misjudgment so i think the jury is out now ..

    • P_S_W

      No, it returned and was discharged.

  • McRobbie

    So millie’s best line was to accuse cameron of taking a criminal into parliament? Coulson wasn’t a criminal then was he ? …..and I thought our justice system assumed everyone was innocent until proven guilty ? A minor consideration for a desperate opposition misleader to seek to gain a point from, but a fundamental principle for a democracy….just further proof that marxists are not interested in fairness and reasonableness.

  • Peter Stroud

    Cameron got through Miliband’s armour, before the leader of the opposition opened his mouth. He restated his apology, and, if I remember correctly: pointed out that no one criticised Coulson for his work in number 10. From then on, Miliband failed to score a point. As to the odious Chris Bryant: he failed to score a hit, as usual.

    • realfish

      For the avoidance of any doubt (and for completeness, Lloyd), Bryant said,
      ‘The Prime Minister said yesterday that he was just giving Andy Coulson a second chance. That means that the Prime Minister knew that there was a first offence…’

      Cameron’s response was entirely consistent with this, his evidence to Leveson: ‘What I assessed was that this was clearly a controversial appointment, and controversial for two reasons. One was that bad things had happened at the News of the World while he was editor and he had resigned. So he had left his last job after resigning because of things that had happened. So that was obviously — as I said in my evidence, I was giving him a second chance.’

      As Cameron said, Bryant was, as usual, wrong. Once again Bryant displayed to us all that his cognitive skills are extremely limited, or possibly even non existent.

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    Well of course Parliamentarians can say what they like in the House of Commons. I think it’s dreadfully cynical for the leader of H.M.s Opposition to resort to trying to make a P.M retrospectively accountable during the past four years, for criminal conduct that was only actually found in court yesterday.

    One wonders if this is why our P.M felt duty bound to deliberately make a public apology so very quickly.

  • Eyesee

    Blair ordered animals to be slaughtered illegally, so not just someone in No. 10 being a criminal, but actually the Prime Minister. What has Miliband to say about that? And that is without lying to Parliament, starting a war illegally and breaching the covenant with the Armed Forces, which may not be illegal (just immoral) but ought to be.

    • Daidragon

      Good grief.

  • MalcolmRedfellow

    Lloyd George knew my father. And, quite frankly, Mr Lloyd Evans, you’re no Lloyd George.

    By the way, LG “was from” (originally) 5 New York Place, Chorlton upon Medlock, Manchester.

    As for any “success” by David Cameron in avoiding the bullets, it merely proves that he — like his mentor, Murdoch — is more slithery and slippery than a snot-slime-slavered stoat. Unlike the leaders of yesteryear.

  • Colin

    Miliband didn’t lay a glove on Cameron. I almost felt sorry for him, almost.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Watching that geeky popinjay and Son of Communitht plodding his way through that contrived piece of sanctimonious twaddle I didn’t see any bruising at all. Just another demonstration of shallow opportunism from a party with nothing else to offer.

    Toe curling performance from the ghastly “leader” (union place man more like) of a ghastly party with a grisly gang of some of the most unpleasant politicians in Britain doing a silly nodding dog act behind him. There would have been a real danger of slipping on the amount of slimy sanctimony Labour’s shadowy front bench were exuding, reptiles all.

    New Labour, thick as thieves with Murdoch when in power and God knows what they got up to. We had some clues from their sinister and extremely unhealthy manipulation of the police.

    • Kitty MLB

      Well said Colonel. Milipede couldn’t dent a jelly. Just a opportunistic vulture
      jumping on his favourite bandwagon. The most obnoxious, vile bunch of deceitful socialists on this planet. Oh, and we must remember Blair being
      God Father to the Rupert and Wendy Murdoch Baby.. Very close indeed.
      and pyjama parties at Cheques.

      • telemachus

        Besotted

        • Kitty MLB

          If its not the forever buzzing wasp, is there not a picnic table
          somewhere you could be annoying instead.

          • telemachus

            The loveliness of ladybirds
            *
            In case coffee Housers feel this is a term of affection I point out that it is the correct collective noun indicating that Telemachus does not believe that the ubiquitous MLB posts are the work of a single deranged mind

            • Kitty MLB

              And indeed a wasp can never become a bee..
              very grubby pests that should be squashed on sight.

              • Alexsandr

                get a room you two!

            • Colonel Mustard

              You are one to talk about collective identities and a deranged mind you little shi-ite.

              • telemachus

                I think I was talking to the Ladybirds

                • Colonel Mustard

                  And I was talking to you. You got the message.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        Couldn’t dent a jelly! Love it!

    • Kitty MLB

      Oh I forgot. Have you read Peter Oborne’s book, I haven’t but its called : Rise
      of Political Lying. Downing Street news grids were identical to the Sun newspaper news grid, the paper was used for Labour party propaganda when
      they were in power.

    • Tron

      Well said Col. Mustard.
      Those Nodding Dogs are the pits.
      P.S.
      Give my regards to Sgt. Pepper.

    • CharlietheChump

      Marvellous

  • toco10

    What rubbish!With five of his own MPs having been in jail for criminal offences against the State Red Ed is the one to look at Labour’s recruitment policies rather than seeking to blame others.Red Ed’s BBC and the hapless Carole Walker never give this the slightest mention.

    • Kitty MLB

      Indeed those 5 were the criminals who I am sure entered Downing Street,
      and lest we forget the crime that resulted in nearly leaving the country bankrupt and the Iraq war. As well as McBride, Campbell and all the other
      miscreants.

  • Daidragon

    This is clearly a resigning matter but unfortunately we have a lightweight spiv for PM who simply doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong.

    • HookesLaw

      A poor effort. McBride sat at the next dsk to brown who claimed he was clueless about what was going on.

      • Daidragon

        McBride wasn’t a criminal.

        • Colonel Mustard

          You mean he wasn’t prosecuted for anything by New Labour’s police and CPS.

          • Daidragon

            Both Coulsen and McBride are vile little shitbags but only one broke the law. Coulsen is a criminal.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Have you never broken the law? You really should get out more. Everybody should break the law at least once.

            • Makroon

              Yeah, McBride’s main “crime” was confirming the filth of the BrownBalls regime, wasn’t it ?

        • Fergus Pickering

          Of course he was. And so was, and is, Alistair Campbell. You mean he hasn’t been to prison.

          • Daidragon

            You have to break the law to be a criminal. Coulsen is a criminal and was before he entered number 10. Everything else is just deflection.

    • Fergus Pickering

      It’s not remotely a resigning matter. Did Cameron break the law?

      • MalcolmRedfellow

        Interesting question, even in respect to this latest incident.

        Steerpike’s implication is that Mr Cameron’s “apology” went as close to the illegal as possible. Mr Justice Saunders clearly felt he went a bit further still.

        Then there is the small matter of whether Parliament has today been wilfully misled (or, as we common folk might mutter, “lied to”) over Coulson’s vetting. It seems (see the anonymous Departmental Security Officer putting it on record to the Leveson Inquiry), Coulson managed to “dodge the soap” by resigning when he did. Else, Coulson’s relationship with Mrs Kemp/Brooks (which would amount to blackmail potential) would have been exposed. That could, just could be a reason why either Coulson or someone else delayed the Developed Vetting process. Which, in its turn, could be “the smoking gun”.

        • Fergus Pickering

          I’m afraid that’s all too complicated (and too boring) for me. I just don’t care enough about it.

        • Ooh!MePurse!

          I’m more annoyed about supporting the invasion of a sovereign country based on what the Prime Minister of the day said in Parliament. Puts things into perspective.

      • Daidragon

        Not only did he bring a criminal into the heart of government but nearly prejudiced an ongoing trial. Then had to explain his unbelievable stupid behaviour to a judge. I suppose nothing is a resigning matter these days. Cameron is a man who has been promoted way beyond his abilities. A Bullingdon buffoon. He’s lucky that our ‘free press’ is actually closer to Tory propaganda machine.

        • Kitty MLB

          Oh dear Milipede’s desperate line again.
          and using the tired old Bullington line
          poor little pavlov dogs…Yawn.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Are there not five Labour chaps doing time at the moment. I believe the free press includes the Grauniad, the Independent, the Mirror and various nutty left rags. And the Beeb is in Labour’s pocket, is it not?

        • Ooh!MePurse!

          Blah, blah, boring, predictable, repetitive, unthinking, blah. Your talents would be better appreciated on the Guardian site.

          • Daidragon

            Aw diddums. Is the nasty man pointing out things you wish weren’t true? Cameron is thick. A vacuous PR man who isn’t even any good at PR.

            • McRobbie

              By comparison with his opposition he is a super star…a vacuous chancer is a perfect description of milie.

    • Makroon

      It’s years old chip paper. Yawn.

  • DaveTheRave

    Given the raw material the Labour leader was working with it would be difficult NOT to score some points, wouldn’t it?
    That besides, why don’t Labour just go away? Even if the PM did make a major mistake in appointing this man, we, the public of ‘this country’ would be guilty of a far greater, mortal mistake next May if we put Labour back in office. Now that really would be catastrophic…

    • Kitty MLB

      Even if Cameron made a mistake, and Coulson did not do anything wrong
      at Downing street.( Even the select committee and Leveson enquiry did not
      suspect Coulson he was a eloquent manipulator and popular with all parties)
      Cameron apologised and not in a meany mouthed way he was honest and
      as always a man of integrity unlike anyone on the opposite benches.

      • Daidragon

        Good grief. Always looking to deflect Kitty. Imagine this had happened to Brown. I’m sure you and the right wing press would have considered it a resigning matter then.

        • Makroon

          If it had happened to Brown, you and I would never have heard of it. Campbell would have had a word with Charles Falconer and Ian Blair and made the whole thing go away.

      • DaveTheRave

        Don’t get me wrong, it was a massive mistake but responsible officers are very often only as good the counsel they receive. Someone should’ve really insisted he did’t do it.
        Ultimately there are no winners in this whole issue and is testimony of the massive gulf which exists between us, the people, and them, those in power. All the parties are culpable. We need a major shake up and realignment of our political structure, but that’s another issue.

        • telemachus

          There is a winner here
          In fact two
          Murdoch and Brooks
          Murdoch is due in tomorrow for a valedictory meeting
          Brooks I suspect will reappear
          Probably as Editor in Chief of Breibart

          • Kitty MLB

            Indeed little wasp. the fragrant red haired temptress was never
            going to be the scalp offering. I am sure Murdoch will look after her.

            • telemachus

              Funnily enough Rebekah has a coquettish charm that at both Leveson and in the Old Bailey led many of us to admire her
              Mind Coulson probably thinks of her as a black widow spider

  • Bill McInroy

    Mustn’t forget Harold Wilson and Lord Kagan of Gannex.

    • telemachus

      A bit of rearranging affairs to avoid paying a little tax after giving a political party a donation is a far cry from an Old Bailey Criminal brought into the heart of government

      • Alexsandr

        do tell me how many Labour MP’s went to prison for expenses fraud?

        and labour have paedophile apologists in the heart of the PLP

        • telemachus

          Jonathan Aitken
          And while we are at it Tim Smith, Neil Hamilton

          • Alexsandr

            smith and hamilton were not convicted oin a court of law, neither did they go to prison so not quite the same thing

            while we are on about expenses and flipping, Hazel Blears, Jackie Smith and Bob Ainsworth – well I dont know why they didnt go to jail too.

            with luck they will jail Balls for leaving the scene of an accident.

      • Bill McInroy

        You keep telling yourself that.

    • Makroon

      Ha-ha, nor the early prototype for Ali Campbell/Charley Whelan, one George Wigg.

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