Coffee House

The hacking trial has seen the Tories unite, but may have damaged Cameron’s character

25 June 2014

1:35 PM

25 June 2014

1:35 PM

Today must have been the first that David Cameron thought ‘thank goodness for the Leveson report’ as he prepared for Prime Minister’s Questions. He used the report as a shield in his exchanges with Ed Miliband, waving it about at the despatch box and saying that he had ‘totally disproved him using the evidence’ on a series of accusations that the Labour leader had made about whether or not he ignored warnings about hiring Andy Coulson and bringing him into Downing Street.

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The Prime Minister did not leave this session weakened, even though in some cases the points he made were weak. He got his apology in early thanks for a planted question from Tory backbencher Damian Collins, and this meant his first response to Miliband’s first question was ‘as I said a moment ago’. This set the Tory leader up for a session in which he tried to make Miliband’s criticisms look old, as though the Labour leader was just hunting through old stories to find a hit. Miliband wanted to make the exchanges about the Prime Minister’s failure of judgement and his dogged determination to hire Coulson in spite of repeated warnings that he shouldn’t. Both men will have got enough from that session: Miliband will want to pursue the question of developed vetting and why Coulson did not receive it, while Cameron managed to suggest that Miliband didn’t think the Leveson Inquiry had done its job.

But what was fascinating was the way the Conservative awkward squad rallied around Cameron today. Philip Davies, Sir Gerald Howarth and Peter Bone all backing the Prime Minister could normally be used as a substitute expression for ‘rare as hen’s teeth’, but there they were today, asking helpful questions. This is made all the more interesting by the predictions of Tory malcontents that the hacking trial would represent a point of maximum weakness for the Prime Minister. And it could limit the Labour attack, as internal party unrest will push an issue up the agenda. But Miliband knows that in his grand theme of him being a decent leader and Cameron being someone who doesn’t care and you can’t trust, he’s scored another point: the Prime Minister made a mistake and hired a man convicted this week of conspiracy to hack phones. Even if he cannot sustain this as a political story for very long, it is a point Miliband can raise again and again when examining David Cameron’s character in speeches and debates.

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Show comments
  • Peter Stroud

    Isobel, how did today’s PMQs demonstrate that Miliband is a decent leader? And I really don’t think I trust Cameron, any more, or less after watching this particular piece of parliamentary theatre.

  • CraigStrachan

    Damaged it, or revealed it?

  • realfish

    Cameron’s character will not be damaged, he put Miliband away with ease today. But it will be Miliband himself who is damaged. It was clear that long before the end of PMQ’s the anticipation and excitement on the opposition benches had subsided and silence had descended. Many Labour MPs looked truly dispirited.

    Once again, Miliband proved that he is a technocrat, lost and completely adrift in the arcane. His complete lack of emotional intelligence make his attempts to display empathy for the so called victims of hacking appear contrived and cynical.

    Cameron will survive today. Day by day, though, Miliband is looking ever more diminished.

    • queen

      cameron in not liked in the north of england.he will be finished in 2015

  • Frank

    I think we may have to revise all this when Dave announces that he is going to hire the flame-haired temptress to work in No10 as the latest media adviser!!
    As for Coulson, he is like one of those special scapegoats of ancient times, who were sacrificed to take on all the faults of the whole tribe!
    The problem with the Miliband / Dave fight is that the general public finds both very un-inspiring, so the issue of which is more decent leader is irrelevant (and explains why most find Farage a nice change).

  • Earlshill

    Has the Hacking trial damaged Cameron’s character? Let me see. Eeny meeny miny moe….. Nope. Whichever way you look at it, its impossible for Cameron’s character to be damaged further. He’s always been a supercilious arrogant chancer.

  • Kitty MLB

    No one really gives a toss about this whole expensive drama anymore, any questions
    Milipede had were covered by Leveson in the Inquiry.
    People were bothered until they knew the News of the World didn’t hack Milly Dowlers
    phone and then it was the end. It just happens to be Ed Milipede’s favourite bandwagon.. Yawn !

    • Mynydd

      No one bothered until Mr Miliband stood up in Parliament and called out News International.

  • Mike

    Camerons character, what was there to damage in the first place !

  • toco10

    Red Ed claims a criminal was brought into Downing Street.What is more serious is Labour and by association Red Ed brought five criminal Labour MPs into The Houses of Parliament who have served jail sentences for cheating on expenses.No Conservative or LibDem MPs have served such sentences for defrauding the Electorate.

    • Mynydd

      What has MP’s expenses got to do with Mr Cameron’s lack of judgement. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Mr Cameron took a criminal into the heart of government, get over it.

      • Kitty MLB

        Oh dear your bleating Milipede’s desperate line. I’d read the other comments here and elsewhere if I were you.

      • Holly

        The criminal in question was NOT a criminal when Cameron took him to ‘the heart of government’.
        The criminal in question,at the time, had not been charged with anything, had no proof against him, over the subscequent charges bought against him, and I repeat if anyone on the Labour side knew this guy WAS guilty of any criminal offence, why did they wait until they were out of office to say something?

        Cameron at the time had no evidence to show Coulson was a criminal, which at the time he wasn’t.

        • Kitty MLB

          Indeed Holly.I thought we were innocent until
          proven guilty in this country.

  • Thatcherite Lee

    Oh please the only thing that the whole reporting of this is doing is helping the nations supply of tomorrows chip paper because most people outside the Westminster bubble couldn’t give a damn.

    • Mynydd

      Would you have said the same thing if it had been Mr Blair/Brown/Miliband and not Mr Cameron taking a criminal into No 10.

      • Tony_E

        After what happened to Dr Kelly, I think it’s quite clear that at the very least there was a criminal lack of duty of care in the Blair Government.

        Hiring Coulsdon, who clearly did absolutely nothing wrong while in his government supporting role, pales into insignificance when compared to the role that government spin played in the death of a man.

        • Mynydd

          There was an investigation into Dr Kelly’s death, and found nothing against The Blair Government.
          If Mr Coulson did nothing wrong why did he resign and Mr Cameron accept it? There’s no smoke without a fire.

          • DWWolds

            And there was no smoke without fire in the death of Dr Kelly whatever you may think.

      • Holly

        Cameron did not take a criminal into No 10.
        The guy in question has only been a convicted criminal for 24 hours.

  • Kitty MLB

    As Philip Davies said his select committee which contains people from all parties
    had said they didn’t have proof of Coulson doing anything wrong.
    Are labour of all parties suggesting that any person with rumours or innuendo circulating about them without proven should lose their job?
    To think of Labours dodgy employees this is quite outrageous.
    The question about the full security checks. Alistair Campbell stopped the civil
    service from carrying out those because he didn’t want the oppositions
    chief spin doctor Mr Couson having access to sensitive government information.

    • Mynydd

      Now that’s a good one, Mr Campbell stopped the Civil Service from doing a full security check. How do people come up with these sort of ideas.

      • Holly

        Probably from the same ‘no smoke without fire’ box.
        When exactly do you reckon this ‘no smoke without fire’ theory should have started?
        Personally, I reckon it should have been back in the early/middle of the 2000’s, but hey, the Tories weren’t in government then so no points for Labour bods to score eh.

    • ButcombeMan

      Utter crap Darling.

      • Kitty MLB

        Its not utter crap in the slightest, Darling.

        • ButcombeMan

          But it is Darling. Only HMG employees or contractors working on sensitive stuff get DVd.

          Couson (sic!) was neither when working for Cameron in opposition, so the question only arose when he was taken into Number 10 and put on the government pay roll. By that time Campbell was gone.

          Someone or some combination around Cameron made the decision, in Number 10. It was extraordinary. and arouses suspicion.

          Coulson would have been unlikely to pass.

          • Kitty MLB

            “It arouses suspicion” Does it really darling?
            What is this mini Sherlock suggesting? That
            Cameron or someone else, turned Downing
            Street into a den of iniquity, dark shadowy
            figures clandestinely wandering the halls
            of power? I suppose we’ll never know that
            much.
            Now I must go and make my favorite weekend
            breakfast, which just happens to be grilled
            kippers with lots of warm melted butter…
            I always enjoy them.

            • ButcombeMan

              You know full well what I am suggesting

              I smell something very fishy.

  • dado_trunking

    At least Profumo resigned when he was shafted.

    • HookesLaw

      Profumo stood up and lied to the House of Commons.

      • dado_trunking

        He did indeed.

      • Mynydd

        Lied to the House of Commons, what a dastardly deed compared to destroying peoples lives.

        • Holly

          If my memory serves me correctly, many of these lives were ‘destroyed’ while LABOUR were in a position to stop it.

          Where were the SIX Home Secretaries when police were taking money from newspaper bods, or newspaper bods getting jobs in the police & visa versa.
          Or workers in the public sector taking money from newspaper bods for ‘stories’?
          Just what the heck were Labour ministers doing about such criminal activities?
          Oh yeah.SFA.

  • pinkgunnergirl

    Hate to break it to you: outside the media bubble and Westminster politics, most people are not that interested in this story. It’s a classic example of how elites, media & political establishment talk to each other and get into a frenzy when most ordinary people in this Country are getting on with the daily struggle of life.

    • dado_trunking

      Sure luv, I don’t care about your benefits being cut either.

    • Mynydd

      I agree it’s not how the media, Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg, Mr Miliband and all the rest talk about it, most importantly it’s how the great unwashed see it. For me it was a complete failure of judgement on Mr Cameron behalf to hire Mr Coulson after he was forced to resign from a leading newspaper. Why didn’t Mr Cameron at least ask himself is there any dirty washing to come out. The problem now for Mr Cameron is that this known failure of judgement on Coulson will lead to further question on this judgement and

      • the viceroy’s gin

        It’s a long term corrosive for Dave, no matter what it does for anybody else. He screwed up, bringing that schemer into the circle, and he then worked up the Leveson fascism to help cover up his failed personnel choice, just so he could one day wave around some “report”, to cover his own tracks.

        In other words, he manipulated government and policy to cover his own political failure, and risked degrading freedom and liberty in the bargain. It’s all despicable, and the opprobrium is going to come from all sides, a common enough occurrence for the Camerloons.

      • Holly

        From where I’m sitting, if I were a Labour bod I’d STFU.

        There were MORE criminals in the public sector, and the police, and in Parliament under Labour, than Coulson under Cameron….AND for a heck of a lot longer!

    • The Masked Marvel

      I was going to say it was now just going to be something Miliband and Labour and the BBC would use to rouse their base voters, but you make a very good point.

  • paul rivers

    To me the important point is that no one is suggesting that Coulson did anything seriously wrong when he was working for Cameron. When I think of McBride trying to smear the wives of cabinet ministers and Campbell’s treatment of Dr David Kelly, and 4 or 5 labour MP’s going to jail for fraud, I do wonder if the public will wonder how Miliband has the cheek to get on his high horse about it.

    • HookesLaw

      Correct. Coulson and NOTW were supporting labour when all this happened and the police dropped any further investigation after the first hacking trial. Labour themselves were still happy to treat with Murdoch and his papers after the first hacking trial which was an affair involving the Royals I think.

      • dado_trunking

        Oh, it’s all good then.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …is that the sockpuppet consensus, lad?

    • Kitty MLB

      Its the utter bare faced cheek of Labour. And I am glad Cameron mentioned
      the dodgy dossiers and Mr Campbell. And Mr Coulson apparently committed
      these crimes whilst Blair and Brown toadied to Murdoch. Being God Father
      to Children and having sleepovers.
      As you say Coulson didn’t do anything wrong whilst working for Cameron,
      and he was very popular with all parties. Even Miliband liked him.

      • telemachus

        How people can have the barefaced cheek to try to exonerate a convict is inexplicable to me
        I wonder whether Scotland Yard should be looking at charges as accessory after the fact
        After all Cameron came in on a ticket of clearing up politics

        • Holly

          I wonder if Scotland Yard were to ‘look at charges’ being made against anyone, how far from their desk they would have to go?
          Police, (unless I’m still living in a green and pleasant past) are there to uphold the law, so why didn’t any of them accepting bungs from newspaper bods advise them on such laws? A caution would have been nice.

          If Miliband and Labour are so sure Coulson had done something wrong, why did they do nothing whilst the Sun was backing their party,and Labour were in office, and only turned once they dumped Bozo?
          SIX Labour Home Secretaries…SIX! and not one of them did anything about the payments to newspaper bods.
          Nothing was ever mentioned about public sector workers taking payment for ‘stories’.
          What exactly were Labour politicians doing?
          Oh yeah…Plotting, lying, scheming and smearing each other, and trying to get rid of Blair.
          You reckon the public are crying out for Labour?

          Labour can not talk about any topic without their own dirty dealings coming back to remind the public just how underhand they were, and it biting them on the bum.
          Coulson apparently lied to everyone, and as I have said before, I would rather have a thief than a liar….
          Plod on there telemachus, your’e doing great.

      • ButcombeMan

        You are missing the point.

        Plainly Cameron was unwise to take him into Number 10.

        THE MOST INTRIGUING QUESTION OF ALL IS THIS:

        Why was Coulson not subjected to Developed Vetting?

        The clear implication is that someone, somewhere, knew full well he would fail it. There is no other rational explanation.

        • Frank

          I assume that Coulson was not going to be given access to any secret material, so why waste money doing developed vetting on him. He was just the media adviser, unlike Campbell who appears to have virtually run Blair’s kitchen cabinet.

          • ButcombeMan

            I suggest it is very difficult to work alongside Cameron in Number 10 and not get access to stuff with security makings.

        • Kitty MLB

          Maybe Alistair Campbell stopped the civil service in this,
          as he didn’t want the leader of the opposition’s chief spin doctor to have access to sensitive government information.
          They were the government at the time of Coulson being employed. And he did nothing wrong whilst in that employment. He was not found guilty of anything, even the select committee agreed anything else was just rumour and
          innuendo.

          • ButcombeMan

            The DV process would not apply to Coulson when outside of government. The question certainly arose once he was inside. Someone somewhere would obviously have considered it.
            Just possible that Coulson did not want to go through it. It would have exposed his fling with the flame haired temptress for one thing.

            • Kitty MLB

              Oh yes, the flame haired temptress that allegedly had no
              idea where all these stories were coming from. That lovely
              flame hair was never going to be the News International
              scalp.. Coulson was certainly very good at pulling the wool
              over peoples eyes.

        • Tony_E

          Why would he have failed it? Why would it have been necessary? For example, even the complaint that he was briefing information to the media of a sensitive nature is a bit foolish. Had this information needed to be secret, it would not have been fed to the press at all – so therefore Coulson knowing a limited set of details with the instruction to brief them to the press is toothless and illogical.

          • ButcombeMan

            The DV process is fairly exhaustive, he was likely to fail the process because he was dishonest.

    • Mynydd

      If Mr Coulson didn’t do anything wrong while working for Mr Cameron, why did he resign and why did Mr Cameron accept it?

      • Holly

        Probably because he was becoming the story. You know as much as I do….
        Which is, WE DO NOT KNOW
        Once all this stuff re-appeared, why didn’t any Labour bods,(who were around at the time, and were still MP’s when it got to the stage where people in public office were being charged with criminal offences….taking bungs from newspaper bods) resign?
        Coulson had not been found to have done anything wrong, so insinuating that is why he resigned, comes across as ‘silly’ to me.
        If Miliband & Co are so sure Coulson did have something to answer for, why didn’t they, or the police do anything about it when they had the chance?
        Could it be down to all the bungs being paid to folk by newspaper bods eh?

    • DaveTheRave

      I concur.

  • RavenRandom

    That would be Miliband who stabbed his brother in the back… he’s a man you can trust? The bandwagon jumper who posed with the Sun and then apologised for it… he’s the man you can trust?
    Miliband should have had a walkover at PMQs today… he got fried by the PM with the Sun comment, everybody else saw it as a disaster for Miliband. Watch Miliband’s face, he knows he’s messed it up.

    • HookesLaw

      Yes all true. But even with Coulson what was the real charge against Cameron.
      As it is Mrs Brookes and her husband (Cameron’s friend) are walking the streets free whilst Mrs Kelly is still a widow.

      • dado_trunking

        ohohoho – remember that journo who died the day before Murdoch was grilled?

      • Kitty MLB

        Indeed Mrs Brookes is walking free. And yet she allegedly knew nothing. But the powerful never do, do they?
        She will be the problem for Cameron and not Coulson and I suppose
        Murdoch will continue looking after her.

        • Frank

          I hear that her friends are saying that she is the real victim of phone hacking. Poor lamb, it is a good thing she has been utterly and totally exonerated. Not surprising, given that she appears to have known nothing about anything at work.

    • Mynydd

      ‘he got fried by the PM’ that’s not what the BBC, ITV, Sky and Isabel said, ‘ Both men will have got enough from that session’ at best that’s a no score draw.

      • Holly

        Only trouble with that train of thought are all the collective ‘memories’ on what Labour bods let happen while they were in power.

        IF Cameron had not got into No10, and Bozo was still PM would Leveson, or any of this have happened?
        Labour have ‘history’, and as long as they continue to try ‘get one up on the Tories’, the longer the public continue to be reminded of Labour’s failures, Labour’s hypocrisy, and as we get closer to May 2015, Labour’s continued lack of plausible policies.

        Miliband can not ‘score’ a hit because they are themselves tainted a lot more than Cameron is over this, and it will forever be thus.

    • DaveTheRave

      Yes, on this performance he would make a good England football manager… although it wouldn’t be called England mind you. Don’t want to offend anyone, do we.
      His brother was perhaps the only ‘choice’ if they wanted to resurrect themselves after last election, but they wanted their party back. And they got it.

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