I get blur. It’s my age, or so my wife tells me.
I know there have been a few foul ups this year under the coalition but I have sorta lost track.
The big ones seem to loom large but its the little ones that have fallen off my radar.
We’ve had a busy year, snow, royal weddings, economic stagnation, cuts, strikes, scandals, resignations, enquiries, riots, occupations and Levenson. And a few U-turns along the way.
I know there are only 12 months in a year and running a government is like herding cats but it appears this coalition government – elected on competence and national interest – are making a total horlicks of it.
My personal highlights are on the #hackgate front and the NOTW closure, resignation of not-quite-competent policemen and Coulson getting evicted from the big brother house.
Levenson and the Culture Media and sport committee have held them to account and shown the web of lies and deceit that has been cast by the players in this fiasco. Where will it end? With Dave having to come to the house and say ‘I mislead the house.’ Didn’t ask, second chance narrative looking like a pair of lead boots for the PM.
If this was his only cock up then maybe he’d be alright. There have been a catalogue of mishandling by this manky mob. Even the safe pairs of hands have been poor, here’s a list
Ken Clarke (whom I like) – There are different levels of rape- oops, mini storm but bruised. That and the cuts to Legal aid.
Safe pair of shoes Theresa May – Border Agency fiasco, Brodie Clark credible – his boss and Home Sec lacking credibility. Riots, early recall of parliament to address riots. Out of her depth.
Andy Pandy Landsley – NHS bill, utter mess. Stop (pause), consult (ignore), resell (no change). NHS open season and GP consortia not willing or ready.
Pob (Gove) – Education reforms and redirecting funds to free schools, anyone can teach cos teachers are crap narrative. failing schools proven to be few so freewheeling schools invented for targeting. Lists and numbers seemed to be a problem early on.
Gidders – Economy is a fucking mess. Sorry but it is. Rebalanced to an export led economy. Selling to whom exactly? No idea? Neither has he. The list for Gideon is a long one. hurting not working. The two things he has choked are Growth in the economy and his chicken. (apologies) as for operation Merlin (best not go there).
Nick Clegg – AV – err no, Tuition fees (volte face), VAT hike (oops), Housing benefit savaging (not our fault). Out of the loop Tory in yellow.
Vince Cable – National Treasure to dr snuggles, off message, off target and off the boil. Not his finest year.
Dr Foxy- Loxy. does the name Adam Werrity ring any bells. Best man jetting around with Dr Fox as an ‘Advisor’. Lets not look at the Atlantic Bridge or the other one, you know charities that Mr Werrity worked for. Enronesque.
Mr Huhne – wants wind turbines everywhere because? its obvious isn’t it? Well maybe, but Mrs Clegg as a director of a wind Turbine firm will have had nothing to do with it then. That and speeding tickets. Oh yeah and the just switch to keep fuel bills down. Taxi for Huhne.
Caroline Spelman, – Forest sell off to tory pals. ‘Sorry we got it wrong’ – No shit sherlock.
Francis Maude, binning constituents letters in the park and suggesting a 15min token strike. cloud cuckoo land.
The PM – sitting all on his puff at the EU treaty conference. Little boy lost. Totally out manoeuvered by the Sarkozy/merkel team. When the poles and Belgians aren’t talking to us it is a disaster of diplomacy. This treaty should have been headed off at the pass by talking not sniping. The clues were there.
PM is so woman friendly they have to sit three women behind him at every PMQ’s because of his disasters early in the year. Flashman, Bullingdon fop, smug, arrogant, complacent, out of touch all have been used to describe the PM. All of them fairly.
Eurosceptics pushing him about, he is weak and like Captain hook he breaks out in a cold sweat as the ticking of the Coulson time bomb gets closer.
So 2011 wasn’t a great year for the coalition. A ship of fools.
So Why aren’t we miles ahead? God only knows.
In using the above phrase, in no way am I likening #Hackgate and the behaviour of our media to the system of apartheid in South Africa.
The process however might be the only way to get to the bottom of this whole fiasco.
I listened to @tom_watson last night at a fundraising dinner and was instantly struck by the need to get #hackgate resolved.
There will be a stream of ex-journalists and private investigators arrested and charged in the weeks and months to come as #levenson enquiry digs and digs and digs.
The light of truth (not to be confused with the rope of truth) will shine into the murkiest corners of the activities of some of the media.
The Fallout will be far-reaching and will take years to resolve, at huge expense I am sure.
Should we then draw a line under this mess and have an amnesty to get the truth and scale of what wa going on? Maybe, but there are still a few players who need to be dealt with before then.
Andy Coulson, it is alleged, brought phone hacking to the #NOTW, he should at least face the music. Many more will be stuck in the dock beside him and rightly so.
Milly Dowler, the McCanns and countless others need to see and feel justice being done.
But then what?
If people fear that they will be punished, they’ll keep schtumm and we’ll never know the full extent. The press is being exposed as having run amok with no regard for privacy or decency and now they are needing to pay the piper.
Now we have the national security implications of Peter Hain having his computer hacked by journalists and the whole game has ramped up a level.
The key actors will need to be punished before we will be ready to let this move on. After that a committee might be the best option.
A no-prosecution amnesty and fulsome apology with cash might be sufficient for the foot soldier types. The generals behind this will need to face the full force of the law.
Coulson, brooks and Murdoch (either or both) need to be brought to book. They have been seen to be less than forthright in their responses
And that brings me neatly to the Prime minister, ‘He didn’t ask and didn’t know’, when this is scotched and exposed as the least credible statement on the matter, he will need to go. He is covered from head to foot in the mess that is News International and sooner rather than later he’ll be held accountable.
Misleading the house is a serious issue.
Not as serious as perverting the course of justice, invasion of privacy, harassment, and the many, many others.
But enough to be a resigning matter. ( I hope so.)
It’s surprising that this scandal has kept on going.
The NOTW is no more,
bribes (sorry compensations) have been paid to Milly Dowler’s family and many others. Murdoch junior looks unlikely to follow Rupert into the big seat at News Corp / News International.
Coulson has been forced out of Number 10.
All good stuff and yet here we are waiting in anticipation for this week’s installment of Culture Media and sport committee.
Who would have thought a committee in parliament would be such compelling viewing.
The custard pie in Murdoch’s face wont happen again.
The squirming of James under questioning while saying I know nothing, isn’t the main draw.
The main draw is the ghoulish pleasure we get from watching the NOTW getting its come uppance.
For me I keep expecting a smoking gun to point at Dave-call-me-dave and show him for the liar we all think he is. How he things we will swallow the ‘I didn’t ask’ ‘Gave him a second chance’ crap about Coulson I do not know. The summer recess took the heat off of Dave but I expect after another couple of rounds it will start to come back on to him.
However, that said, I doubt Dave would go. At one point I thought his demise was imminent but alas not.
And so to this week.
Video surveillance is common stuff. The use of it to smear a lawyer who is involved in a case against them is a step too far.
Don’t give a toss that they spied on Wills et al. Much more concerned by their attempts to smear a lawyer representing clients whom, it has been proven, had a case against them. Attack on justice is an attack on us all.
What bothers me is the continued use of surveillance to get material for smears / scoops continued till they closed.
Proving effectively, once and for all just how corrupt and law disregarding the NOTW was.
And these same people had their man at the heart of Government. And he had no idea it was going on?
One rogue reporter? Credible? Is it credible that Dave never asked?
The smelly stuff is about to spray everywhere and I hope that those besmirched do the honorable thing and go.
AS IF THAT WILL HAPPEN.
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.
168 years of circulation pulled in an instant as damage control by Rupert Murdoch. Over the last few weeks few would have predicted this outcome.
Many of us expected the NOTW to take a beating for a while, to claim contrition and pay some settlements. Maybe even to have been severely censured by the not-very-independent enquiry. Perhaps a spanking from the PCC. But closed down, not expected at all.
Of course, it may just have hastened the advent of a seven day Sun but spare a moment for those who have lost their jobs. They are bearing the brunt of earlier sins when the architects of those crimes are insulated from the effects of their actions. 200 staff to protect Rebekah Brooks.
Coulson it appears has been well and truly thrown to the wolves, detached from his political masters he is an easy target for the piranhas that fill the press pond. Of course the Scots legal system will want whats left after he gets beaten about for paying coppers for information. So a corrupt little liar he is then – allegedly.
Mr Murdoch after investing heavily in the conservative coffers over the years it appears is ready to take a minor hit to clear his way to the BSkyB deal. Eyes well and truly on the prize, as it were. He does nothing on a whim and when the time is right he’ll be prepared to plea bargain Rebekah for the takeover deal. Fit and proper person, of course not, but that will hardly matter.
The legal fallout will witter on for a while but essentially by giving up with one hand he hopes he can tighten a grip with the other. The NOTW was doomed the minute the Millie Dowler hack was known and then the whole can poured out into the light and we british just would accept no more. And once the public decide enough is enough, it is well and truly over.
So I say the end of the NOTW is a good thing, but its only a step along the road.
And so to Dave-call-me-dave. The PM. flashman. What does all of this do for him?
What he knew and what he didn’t will be causes of speculation for as long as he stays in office. This is the ticking time bomb that will see him sacrificed by his party to hang onto power.
The PM’s press conference today was telling by the evasiveness of his answers. He was shifty and trying to stick to the ‘second chance’ mantra that he has used since Coulson resigned earlier this year.
One of the reporters asked directly did you ask Andy Coulson about the hacking? Dave’s response was hopeless and led me to this conclusion. Dave didn’t ask because he already knew.
He had known, probably, and decided Coulson was a sufficiently useful ally that having him in number 10 was worth the risk. And besides the metropolitan police had already had an inquiry so the whole mess looked like it would be manageable.
However the tenacity of Tom Watson and the revelations leaking out here, there and everywhere changed the game.
The PMs judgement was brought into question. His ability to deny, deny, deny was compromised by the ludicrousness of his I never asked defence. Coulson is radioactive and he has rubbed off on Dave.
Add to that the real culprit (enter Ms Brooks) is just as close to Dave and Sam and the rest of their little dinner set. Dave never asked her either.
So both of Dave’s hands are smeared by his close association to the phonehackers.
Either this was an immense failure of judgement or a cover up of Watergate proportions. Complicit or ignorant?
The new defence of we are all to blame is bearing some fruit but by Sunday it will have rotted because the electorate will not accept that Dave didnt know.
They know he knew, or didn’t ask. Willfull ignorance is not plausible deniability.
‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ is as much use as crossing one’s fingers as a contraceptive method.
David Cameron is beginning to look like the boy who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
The tory party grandees will be looking very carefully at the party leader, and when he starts to be a lame duck as the drip feed of scandal seeps onto the twitterverse, the blogosphere and the print media, they will act to have him go.
If only Clegg hadn’t ignore his briefing from the Guardian editor about Coulson he might have had a moral high ground to stand on. He did and he hasn’t. With his party in single digits there is no way he’ll work to break the coalition.
When the PM begins to look corrupt or a liability to the party (and it will look that way soon) he will have to go. Political parties are ruthless in their treatment of ailing leaders. They may cut their losses sooner rather than later.
The Tories may fancy going to the polls before Ed Miliband starts to gain traction and profile as leading on this issue and others.
An Election in the next 12 months would see a tory win I think (and so will they). Labour are not ready. No money and no real alternative policies fully in place.
One thing I think is apparent that Dave will not be leading the Tories at the next election in 2015