Monday, 18 July 2011
Is Cameron finished?
It takes a lot to get rid of British Prime Minsters - just look at how Major, Brown and Blair clung on despite all that was thrown at them, but with men and women taking and hits and going down all around him, the PM must be vulnerable.
I'm going to take a shot myself and say that this is it for the former Bullingdon boy, and here's why.
1. Cameron was Murdoch's puppy
We all knew Cameron wasn't a real politician, just a former PR man. However I think we're only just beginning to realise quite how much of a News International PR man he remained after taking office.
Maybe he's just a very sociable chap, but the number of engagements he's had with NI staff does raise a few eyebrows. That Rebekah Brooks should be the only person to visit Chequers twice, or that Coulson visited two month after his second resignation does raise a few eyebrows. And that's just the official stuff, there's also the weddings, the horse riding, the high fives when he meets old NI mates etc etc.
This may not be breaking any rules, but one thing is sure though; whoever gets nicked next, whether it's James Murdoch or the tea boy, Cameron will turn out to have been one of their bestest buddies.
2. He's pissed off the wrong people
Cameron can take flak from lefties like me all day long, but when his own side starts shooting at him he's in trouble.
The Police can usually be relied on to bend a few rules, and arms, to keep a Tory PM in power, but it seems the good will has dried up. Sir Paul Stephenson's resignation letter clearly stated that his embarrassing friend, Neil Wallace, was considerably cleaner than Cameron's. There was also a hint - and it's no more than a hint - that the presence of Coulson in Cameron's inner circle prevented the Commissioner being completely candid with the PM about the investigation. Potentially explosive stuff.
More serious is what his old NI chums are up to. No doubt they are currently denying everything and telling Plod nothing, but if this becomes an untenable position they may start to squeal like canaries. I mean look at them, would you trust that lot to keep their gobs shut if you were all in a fix and only one of you could get out? If they had principles they wouldn't be in this mess.
3. The Lib Dems aren't going to bend over and take it forever.
Hard to believe now but the Lib Dems were once the party of the honourable uncommitted, the people who hated party bias in the press. New Labour suddenly forgot they hated Murdoch when he backed Blair and although he howls now, Brown did everything biologically possible to keep News International on side.
Going into the coalition has seen all that flushed down the toilet. When Vince Cable declared war on Rupert Murdoch, in a secretly recorded comment to an undercover journalist, he wasn't praised for being so honest, but lambasted for caving in the next day with an apology. The Lib Dems now have a chance to make amends.
Games Theory says Clegg should wield the knife - right between the shoulder blades. As the junior partner they're getting all the flak (the Tory voters love the cuts) and backing Cameron will just make it worse, and the revenge of the voters more deadly. On the other hand by doing the decent thing he could regain the support of the uncommitted middle of British politics. The constitution is a bit vague on the exact situation, but he could even be the one the Queen asks to become PM.
4. Nobody ever liked him much anyway.
Cameron has been making right wing Tories uneasy for a while. His posturing on Climate Change (and we know it was only posturing - but they don't), his easy going attitude to gays and black people and his platitudes about the NHS have been getting them shifting uncomfortably in their seats for a while. They put up with him because he seemed about to win them a General Election.
That he spectacularly failed to do. Instead he allied with the fake Tories in the Lib Dems so he could hold at bay the very real ones on his back benches. I doubt many true blue Conservatives want to make this crisis any worse, but the temptation to ditch Cameron may eventually get too strong.
So that's it, Cameron is toast. Maybe. Possibly.
The problem is the mechanism. The Judge led inquiry will let him off the hook, just like Hutton whitewashed Blair. The Lib Dems aren't going to want to No Confidence him as they'd be out on their ear too. Neither will Labour lead a popular crusade as most of this sh*t happened on their watch.
Possibly it will be the Men in Grey again, just like with Lady Thatcher.
Or maybe he will just eventually disappear up his own arse?
We can hope.
Meanwhile you will note that I'm not going to say 'when' it will bring him down. Let's not forget, between Watergate and Impeachment Nixon managed to get himself re-elected.