Mr Cameron might be well advised to do the decent thing quickly, and ‘proply’?

I’ve some sympathy with the difficult situation David Cameron now finds himself in. He didn’t make up the rules. And other leaders (Iain Martin proposes Bill Clinton and Tony Blair) seem to have got away with similarly close relations with the rich and powerful.

Cameron’s Tories may have known it would be tough after the last election. But as Alistair Campbell helpfully notes, “things people ignored in good mood times suddenly gain traction in bad mood times”.

Last night Tory estimates suggested they may lose 350 seats in the upcoming local elections. Possibly worse for the Cameroons, on Betfair 82.6% of punters think Boris will win. Yet, Only 29% are thinking of voting Tory (10% are thinking UKIP) in any forthcoming UK election.

The recession has clearly played a role in changing perspectives on politics and politicians. And the Telegraph’s big exposé on MPs expenses has also shifted the ground on which they must play to an even greater extent.

Shortly after, MPs expenses began to be displaced as scandal de jour by the Guardian’s #hackgate’s story. Around that time Slugger noted:

…just weeks after Mr Murdoch called on Mr Cameron to provide “less government and freer markets”, Mr Cameron responded by offering to remove the policy making powers of the communications regulator Ofcom when they recommended Sky TV (once a huge financial drain, now Murdoch’s only significant profit making venture in the UK) be forced to give up some of its premium sports channels as “most appropriate way of ensuring fair and effective competition”..

No doubt this built up huge sensibilities, even after the UK general election of May 2010. Iain Martin has a particularly revealing anecdote which demonstrates just how prickly people had become around this particular meme:

Shortly after the election, I witnessed Mr Hunt hide behind a tree on his way to a private dinner with James Murdoch in case he was seen by media correspondents as they peeled away from the pre-meal drinks party.

Which may indicate nothing more than the degree to which government ministers had been sensitised to any contact with the Murdochs. For now, Kiran Stacey circumscribes (£) the length and breadth of Camerons’s immediate problem in the FT:

Mr Cameron knows that if he sacks Mr Hunt, he will come under pressure to explain his own relationship with News Corp, having admitted on Sunday that he discussed the bid with James Murdoch in December.

Instead, the prime minister has extended the row by several months after saying Mr Hunt could face a fresh investigation if found by the Leveson inquiry into press standards to have misled parliament.

Last word to Simon Carr:

…would it be improper to take Hunt into a quiet room and ask him half a dozen pertinent questions? Never mind the forensic elaborations of nuanced ambiguities. Cameron and Hunt could establish the facts in a quarter of an hour, as gentlemen might do.

Because going into Leveson will really be a shambles. And let’s not forget what a shambles is. It’s an old word for an unregulated slaughterhouse. Butchery for beginners.

How much better to do the thing quickly, decently, proply.

Doesn’t Mr Carr know there’s a war election on?

  • andnowwhat

    Can’t see why Iain Martin didn’t go back to the leader who founded the problem, Maragaret Thatcher.

    In yesterday’s times Eric Pickles was talking about Labour making 700 gains with 450 coming from the Tories. From my experience of GB, they often vote differently in council elections than general elections due to the way the tories and LD’s run council’s. I can’t see it being an issue this time due to people’s anger at the government and they seem resigned to what will happen on Thursday.

    Already, the 2 parties have their excuse made ahead of time, á la Paula Radcliffe, by dismissing the likely results as mid-term blues. One can argue back and forth about whether the cuts are or are not needed but the affects of the cuts can be added to by more than just those directly affected but also those who fear they will be affected and that’s a very large dollop on top and I don’t think it would be unjust to lay that at the inability of the government to clearly communicate what they are at.

    Anyway, I look forward to Andrew Neill scoffing the mid-term blues nonsense on next week’s Daily Politics

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed. Labour and LibDems almost took possession of local government in the 80s and 90s for all the good it did them.

    I’m not sure the cuts are the issue though. They’re not much different from what Labour would have done, and in some cases (the Granny Tax for instance, they’re getting hit with a prurient, know nothing press).

    But they are playing the politics of it pretty badly…

  • andnowwhat

    Thing is, Cameron is creating a divided country both geographically and economically. Anyone with any doubt on the matter need only look at the regional pay proposals for public servants and the housing issue within London. Time and again, I’ve seen tory politicians unable to address the fact that the majority of those receiving housing benefit in London are actually working, not the lazy dole scroungers living in the best areas of London as Cameron et al would have people believe.

    For years there, when times were good, people just weren’t paying attention to politics, as the voting figures will attest, but times are hard and there is more focus thus Cameron has a job on his hands. Cameron’s policies are hitting every strata of society hard save for one, as yesterdays Times rich list attests but the one thing he has got going for him is an opposition that’s even worse than he was when he was in that position. Labour weren’t exactly up in arms when the ConDems brought in the 5 year government, most probably glad to not have the responsibility.

    I’d love to know what the LDs are at. Come the next election, they are going to get severely punished and goodness knows how long that will last. The reaction of party members in handing in their membership cards 2 years ago now seems foolish given how the conference went recently. When one compares the treatment of Cable to that of Hunt (ok, Cable was filmed and totally caught out) it seems that the LDs are quite happy to be golden showered by the tories s if all pride, personal and as a group, has been removed from them.

    As an aside, I found it interesting the things that Ian Hislop was happy to say on HIGNFY with regards to the Hunt issue and in general. I’d recommend people watch the first 10/15 minutes of the programme.

  • Alanbrooke

    Iain Martin is a man with time on his hands. He loves to tell the English Tories where they are going wrong but never seems to want to go back to Scotland to give everyone there the benefit of his wisdom. Perhaps he and Fraser Nelson can stand at the next election and show everybody how to win.

  • Mick Fealty

    And the ball there would be what exactly Alan?

  • Alanbrooke


    if I understood what you were asking me I might have chance of answering you.

  • I went along happily with Mick Fealty in the headline piece. Only later did the doubts seep in.

    Take his: I’m not sure the cuts are the issue though. They’re not much different from what Labour would have done, and in some cases (the Granny Tax for instance, they’re getting hit with a prurient, know nothing press).

    I was totally at sea with the second part of that: —
    • What’s the significance of “prurient” (marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire; especially : marked by, arousing, or appealing to sexual desire) in the context of OAPs?
    • Why is the commentariat (who spotted the significance of Osborne’s stealth tax —there’s a phrase that was “inexplicably” retired n May 2010 — on the elderly) “know-nothing”?

    The “Granny Tax” (nice bit of sexist, ageist prejudice there) is an extortion. Every OAP knows that the pension is based on CPI, paid seven months in arrears. The CPI increase to last September was 5.2%. Story, end of?

    Except, of course, ever since Osborne has been looking for claw-back.

    Why has age-related allowance, Churchill’s “good idea” from the 1925 Budget, lost its shine? Is anyone going to claim that saving for old age is a bad thing? After all, with all the dubious practices of pensions and endowment mis-sellings (and a further £20 billion rip-off emerging from bad advice to bail out of company pensions schemes), with raids on pensions funds by successive governments, it’s not that many of us antiques haven’t paid twice, or thrice already.

    The earlier bit of Mick‘s statement comes close to twaddle.

    So, welcome to the “cautionary tale”.

    Of course the “cuts” (the bulk of which remain to be enforced) would have differed with a different régime. Anyone in doubt should reprise Adam Posen’s speech at NIESR, comparing the US (mildly expansionary) and UK (severely austere) experiences. Ed Balls got it; and was roundly mocked for it. Richard Portes at the LBS got it a year ago: “My view is that we are in serious danger of a double-dip recession. This is going to be a cautionary tale.” Every significant economist not a paid-up supply-sider got it. The IMF got it: “Short-run fiscal and monetary stimulus is associated with smaller medium-run deviations of output and growth from the precrisis trend.” Even Gingrich has now spotted that Obama got it. Cameron/Osborne didn’t, don’t, and now can’t.

  • cynic2

    Cameron is creating a divided country

    …and Labour didn’t

    “anyone …..need only look at the regional pay proposals for public servants”

    and why as a tax payers should I pay more for someone to do a job in Belfast or Manchester than the job market requires? Why should I bleed the private sector of talent?

    ” and the housing issue within London”

    I am delighted to see your support for private enterprise. The one sector of the hoiusing market that has blossoimed is buy to let, especially DSDS buy to let. Why? Yes there are more pe0ople needing public hosuiong becasue they have lost their jobs, but above all Labours policy on housing benefits poured billions into the pockets of private landlords inflating the price of rents in the social sector. The public reforms will cut that.

    “Cameron’s policies are hitting every strata of society hard ”

    Yes they are. And they are a dierct consequence of Labour mismanegment that wrecked the economy and the currency