Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Statement by the prime minister

Sometimes I wonder about the parallels between this current crisis and the Westland crisis which was supposed to bring down Margaret Thatcher as prime minister but which is barely remembered today (although it did unleash Michael Heseltine as an unguided missile). Actually Ed Miliband was more effective in the questions that he put to the prime minister today than Neil Kinnock was then.

Dave Cameron said that he had learnt from the experience of employing Andy Coulson and with the benefit of hindsight he would have done things differently. If Andy Coulson was shown to have lied, he would then apologise, but this 'conditional apology' was not good enough for Ed Miliband. I must say that I have never quite understood the fashion for apologies.

Ed Miliband was at his strongest when he pointed out that there were five opportunities for David Cameron to doubt Andy Coulson's suitability and the strongest of these was in relation to a New York Times article last September which led to the re-launch of the police investigation. Miliband suggested that the prime minister was caught in a tragic conflict between personal loyalty and the standards and integrity required in public life.

These are all powerful points, but Labour's relationship to the media has not been squeaky clean. The prime minister was able to castigate them as the 'slumber party' and pointed out that Rupert Murdoch had named Gordon Brown as a personal friend.

Nick Clegg's body language throughout was interesting, one of frozen immobility most of the time. Clearly the Lib Dems seen an advantage in distancing themselves over this issue.

Despite the saturation media coverage, I just wonder how interested those outside the political class are in all this. The crisis in the eurozone threatens to unleash a sovereign debt crisis and a second banking crisis which would be far more serious than what Ed Miliband described as a 'a catatsrophic error of judgment'. Which of us has not made poor personnel choices?


Bill Chapman said...

You're right that Nick Clegg's body language throughout was interesting, one of frozen immobility most of the time." To me it was significant that he stared away from Cameron, as if he had never met the man.

These are early days in the emerging scandal. David Cameron must go, because of his lack of judgement.

Wyn Grant said...

There may be more to be revealed. However, everyone in any position of responsibility makes errorsm of judgment. Whether this error of judgment was catastrophic, as Ed Miliband suggests, is a matter of opinion. But I am unclear what the consequences were supposed to be given that there was no suggestion that Coulson did anything improper while he was in Downing Street.