I have been called insane, mad, deluded and many other unprintable names recently because I think David Cameron is on his way. They may, indeed, be right that my political antennae need retuned or I need to stop eating the mushrooms growing in the woods.
I think Dave will go. Not because #Hackgate happened to blow up on his watch, not because he hired Andy Coulson (against some advice and on advice of others) but because when it all kicked off he denied ever having asked Andy (his friend to whom he gave a second chance) if he knew about the hacking.
The ‘I didn’t ask’ defence isn’t credible given the vast array of sources saying they told PM & his staff that Andy Coulson was implicated. This wasn’t a minor question to be avoided, and it strikes at the core of the Prime minister’s judgement and integrity.
If he didn’t ask he was incompetent and if he did ask and subsequently denied it; he is complicit.
The PM will have to continue to deny that he knew, if he changes tack now he implicates himself.
When the questioning of Coulson, Brooks and many others starts to bite them a deal will let it all out. If he knew, it will come out in the wash. All it will take is someone saving their skin or a memo with the Prime ministers fingerprints all over it.
The close links with News International may look bad but that won’t be enough. His poor judgement over Coulson wont be enough, all those around him resigning and getting sacked wont be enough. After all Labour can be accused of very similair things.
It will be the lie that sinks David Cameron.
It smacks of Bill Clinton’s ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman.’ unless you count……
So I think he’s going.
Who then for the conservatives? They will not want another election (neither do Labour if we have any sense) so the coalition will survive because the LD support is too low to see them jump from the coalition. They will, of course, get to flex their muscles over press reform and rightly so (they have been calling for it for years).
My best to lead the Tories Post David Cameron will be either William Hague (for whom last time was too soon) or David Davies (near miss in the run off with David Cameron).
The rest are just not likely. Gidders will be damned by association (and economy), May (not senior enough), IDS (nuff said), Landsley (mess of NHS no chance), Gove (about to lose role over 60k retainer from News international), Hammond (bombardier about to blow his hands off). Liam Fox (outside bet as he is usually not too bad but has just slashed the army so perhaps not). Ken Clarke (not very likely after sentencing mess). Redwood?
Hague or Davies it is then.
Perhaps Ed might manage to beat either of these.
Sticking his fingers in his ears and singing ‘lalala’ is the image I have of David Cameron in the kitchen at a ‘Chipping Norton set’ dinner party and going out of the room as soon as anyone mentions ‘Andy, phone and Hacking’ in the same sentence.
OK I know I am being ridiculous but the PM started it.
There is no way that the questions were never asked of Andy & Rebekah about the bad apple Mulcaire in the informal environment they associate in.
And it beggars belief to suggest that his ‘friend’ Andy never, ever mentioned it to David Cameron. And that Dave never asked over a beer or what have you.
‘Don’t ask, Don’t Tell’ looking a poor idea now.
David Cameron is an intelligent, articulate man and if he didn’t ask (for plausible deniability in the future) it was because the facts were self-evident. He didn’t ask because they all knew, they knew the hacking was widespread and it was just part of the business.
It is this failure to discuss and his closeness to these two News International bigwigs that will cause dave the most difficulty and damage over this.
When it creeps out (after weeks of revelations and scandals) that David Cameron did ask and was told by Andy Coulson (who will cop a deal) about the systematic law breaking, it is then that his position becomes untenable.
Punting the BskyB deal to the competition commission buys Dave some time to spread the mud among all the parties but it will come out in the end that he knew. After that, everything else pales into insignificance.
His defending of Coulson and slow reactions in this crisis show him as ineffectual and his press conference body language screamed ‘liar liar pants on fire.’
I didn’t have this conversation with Andy Coulson is beginning to sound like ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman.’
Now for the one he doesn’t want.
It goes a little like this. A meeting set up by some grey suited elder statesmen within the Conservative party to discuss the current situation with the PM. Of course a few of these old boys are none too impressed with the Boy Cameron, and still do not understand how on earth he couldn’t win a majority.
After all it was against an unpopular government on its knees, a massive recession, buckets of Ashcroft money and a poor Labour campaign bereft of money.
They, like the country, and just not sure about Dave. And then of course he snuggled up to the enemy Clegg.
‘Prime minister, for the good of the party, you should think about stepping down.’ Words made of lead that David Cameron will live in dread of hearing.
After all he is either complicit (in which case he has to go) or incompetent (in which case he has to go).
He will hear them unless something worse comes along and diverts the heat off of his complicity over #hackgate.
After all, a new bum in the PM’s seat wont trigger a general election merely a change at the helm. Preferably one who isn’t entirely mired in News International muck.
While the Libdems are in single figures they will stick with the coalition to the death, however if they start to regain ground due to the liability of Dave and his little chums, a change will be in the offing.
Will the PM have to go? I think he will but it will take a few more smoking guns with his fingerprints on them before it is certain.