'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Monday, 11 July 2011

On hackgate, the Tories don't know whether to look left, right, or stare at the sky whistling.

One month ago I wrote a post on this blog speculating that within 2 years, David Cameron would be occupying the 'hate figure' position that all Prime Minister eventually fill.

Peter Oborne in the Telegraph suggests the fall out from the NOTW saga means that Cameron may well be at that tipping point already. Which would mean that while my general prediction was correct, the accuracy of my timing leaves something to be desired.

But are we actually at that tipping point yet? It seems the Tory party - and the right wing press - are unsure which way to jump.

Some, like Oborne, are convinced this is the moment when Cameron begins to occupy the hate mantle that eventually falls on all Prime Ministers:

"In the careers of all prime ministers there comes a turning point. He or she makes a fatal mistake from which there is no ultimate recovery. With Tony Blair it was the Iraq war and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. With John Major it was Black Wednesday and sterling’s eviction from the Exchange Rate Mechanism. With Harold Wilson, the pound’s devaluation in 1967 wrecked his reputation."


"David Cameron, who has returned from Afghanistan as a profoundly damaged figure, now faces exactly such a crisis. The series of disgusting revelations concerning his friends and associates from Rupert Murdoch’s News International has permanently and irrevocably damaged his reputation."

Others, as colourfully if rather partisanly described by Iain Dale over the weekend, think the press will not go for Cameron over this - but attack Labour instead, with Tom Baldwin first in line:

"I have a sneaking feeling that the Mail on Sunday’s brilliant and tenacious political editor, Simon Walters, has an enormous bucket of shit on his desk and he is just about to pour it all over Tom Baldwin. But if you think Baldwin’s got problems what about his boss Ed Miliband who has rather unwisely attacked Cameron for his lack of judgement in infecting the heart of government with Andy Coulson’s presence."

Finally, there is a group who would seem to either jump both ways - or haven't decided which way to jump. Like Zac Goldsmith:

"Rupert Murdoch is clearly a very, very talented businessman. He's possibly even a genius, but his organization has grown too powerful and it has abused that power. It has systematically corrupted the police and, in my view, it has gelded this Parliament, to our shame,"

You'll note, he's saying Ruperts not the issue, it's the company (and parliament!) that's the problem. Talk about wanting your cake and eating it. Oh Zac, do grow a spine.

(Interest to declare: Zac's my constituency MP and I actively campaigned against him last year).

So: there's the conundrum for the right. Use this moment to ditch Cameron? Defend Cameron by attacking the opportunism ( and equal guilt by association with News International) of Labour. Or sit on the fence a while longer and see how the land lies when everything else calms down.

Meanwhile, there's a vacuum that currently Labour are filling with a clear narrative (get News Corp). I wish we in the Lib Dems would take the lead a little more.

Hopefully Nick is starting that process today


Interesting piece on The Spectator noting that The Telegraph and Mail have both had a go at cameron for looking at press regualtion.

And very good blog at Fleeting Fragments noting that this whole issue needs to be a lot wider than just the NOTW or even News international

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