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Why Cameron can’t laugh off the Mercer story

13 November 2011

4:09 PM

13 November 2011

4:09 PM

And the most eyebrow-raising story of the day has to be this one in the People. It’s their
account of what Patrick Mercer is supposed to have said about David Cameron whilst being taped at a party last weekend — and it makes for perversely hilarious reading, whomever’s side you

CoffeeHousers have probably read some of the quotations already. But if you haven’t, then their tone is captured in this exchange from the People’s transcript:

GUEST: Where did David [Cameron] go wrong?
MERCER: Well, he was born.

Beyond that, Mercer allegedly described Cameron as arrogant; called him an ‘arse’ and the ‘worst politician in British history since William Gladstone’; and even
managed to threaten a coup against the PM for next Spring. It should be noted, however, that he has since denied the People’s account, albeit in fairly ambiguous terms.

Even if Mercer did say all that, then there would be reasons not to get too excited. Every politician grumbles now and then — particularly when well oiled. And, what’s more, Mercer has
what you might call ‘history’ with his party leadership.Taken by itself,
one man’s personal animosity does not necessarily spell a drama or, indeed, a coup.

But, that said, Cameron cannot simply shrug off this story. For one, there is the question of whether Mercer has broken party rules and needs to be disciplined. And then there’s the possibility
that, so soon after the vote on an EU referendum, here is yet another prominent instance of backbench disgruntlement with the PM. Factor in some of YouGov’s recent polling, and all these isolated instances may add up to something more worrying, and
increasingly urgent, for No.10.

In any case, the MP for Newark could now be, ahem, done and dead in the eyes of his party leader — if he wasn’t

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