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Cameron on the defensive

29 April 2012

‘As things stand, I don’t believe Jeremy Hunt broke the
ministerial code,’ said David Cameron to Andrew Marr earlier this morning. But the prime minister reiterated that he would act if new evidence came to light when Jeremy Hunt gives evidence to
the Leveson inquiry. Cameron also indicated that he would not wait until Leveson reports in October to punish a breach of the ministerial code. And if Leveson does not clear up the issue, then the
Hunt case would be referred to Sir Alex Allan. ‘I know my responsibilities,’ Cameron said time and again.

In addition to putting Jeremy Hunt on probation, Cameron took the opportunity to defend his own conduct with News Corp executives. He conceded that he, and all politicians, had been too close to
the Murdoch clan, and said that he ‘might do things differently’ if he had the chance – a reference to his close friendship with Rebekah Brooks. However, he insisted that he had
never had ‘an inappropriate conversation about this important [BSkyB] deal’. He was adamant that there had never been a ‘big deal’ with the Murdochs in exchange for ‘support for
the Conservative party.’ He also made the point that lobby is a fact of life in politics and the media, saying that the BBC were skilled practitioners in the art when it came to the licence
fee and regulation. It was the only punch Cameron threw throughout the interview.

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The second half of David Cameron’s self-defence concerned the economy. ‘This is the biggest issue for the government, the biggest issue for the country.’ It is, Cameron said,
‘the reason I get out of bed in the morning’. Cameron resisted Marr’s temptation to announce a short-term stimulus package, which would presumably include tax cuts demanded by
Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and Ed Balls. Instead he held the line, saying that only a ‘long term’ solution would work. He said that this would be a painful process, as the ‘economy
is rebalanced’ away from ‘the broken model of financial services, of debt in our banks, homes and government.’ He cited recent contracts for car manufacturing as evidence that a
new economy is emerging. On the other hand, he said that the Euro-crisis was nowhere near finished yet.

Having defined the intellectual parameters of his economic policy, he began to emote about how tough it is for ordinary families. He said ‘I understand’ four times in less than a minute
– an attempt to repel Nadine Dorries’ criticism that he is out of touch. It is a criticism that 82 per cent of the population agree with, according to the latest Angus Reid poll. Cameron will hope
that this section of the interview makes the news clips, rather than his visible embarrassments talking about the Murdochs. One wouldn’t bank on it.

: The best economic news for the government is found in the Independent on Sunday, where Hamish McRea introduces Goldman Sachs’ new
methodology, which finds that the British economy is performing significantly better than the government’s figures would suggest.

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Show comments
  • Widmerpool

    @ Daniel Maris
    I agree Osborne should be reshuffled at the earliest possible opportunity. This will also be an opportunity to reshuffle the awful Vince Cable who IMHO is not doing the best job at Trade and whose grandstanding on Mansion Tax etc was a distraction for Osborne although this is no real excuse for his mistakes in the Budget

    Cameron really on the ropes now a respected senior civil servant like Sir John Bourn says he should review Hunt’s conduct before Leveson

  • Frank P

    What ‘Blue’ team? What colour do you get when you mix pink with orange? Ugghhh!

  • Paddy

    I don’t think Labour will benefit from Thursday’s elections.

    Seeing Ed Ball’s face on Murnaghan calling this government sleazy….well he would know all about sleaze. And Harriet Harman with Andrew Neil…..tying herself in knots.

    As for Leveson….Cameron will have no problem at all. As for Brown…..well he has real problems.

  • Holly ……

    Has David Cameron,Esther McVey & Peter Bone been on the airwaves today by any chance?
    They must have said something pretty scary for all the negative stuff being thrown around.

  • an ex-tory voter

    I look forward to meeting my local Conservative candidate next Thursday. It will take me only a minute or so to explain to him why he will not be getting my vote, why Cameron did not get my vote at the GE and why the Con-servative Party will not be getting my vote at the next GE. That is unless DC has been has been sent packing and a Conservative elected to lead the party. I may be politically engaged but even amongst those relatively disinterested voters that I know, I have yet to find a single supporter of this man. As for “no coherent strategy” it is the inevitable result of “no principles and no leadership”.

  • an ex-tory voter

    David Cameron patently does not understand. No man with any understanding would impose the pastie tax, grannie tax, fuel duty increase, vat increase, ego taxes on household energy, caravan tax (when HMRC predicts a 30% fall in sales a result) and on and on, in the middle of the longest depression for a century. At the same stating “we are all in it together”, it seems to me while we may be “in it up to our necks” Cameron does not have any idea of what it is like to be facing 5% plus inflation on household bills with zero % salary increase for years on end. He will be alright Jack the family fortune will see to that, meanwhile fcuk the rest, let them eat cold pasties!!

  • Cynic

    As for Labour’s credible ideas – if they offered a referendum on the EU they’d swing a few votes, probably, as people have short memories (Lisbon Treaty referendum, anyone?), but they’re so wedded to the EU ideal (statist, authoritarian, left-leaning, etc) that this is unlikely to happen.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    It’s the same here. Con-Lab-Lib-Green. No choice at all.

  • Ex-Tory Voter

    @ alexsandr, perhaps you should have stood as an Independent?

  • alexsandr

    i have a local council election thursday.. offering? tory, limp dem, labour and green.

    i will probably write ‘none of the above’ across the paper. I would urge all here to do the same. the political class have to understannd we think they are rubbish.

  • In2minds

    “Goldman Sachs’ new methodology, which finds that the British economy is performing significantly better than the government’s figures would suggest”.

    Fancy not knowing what your own economy is up to, first it’s the price of milk and now this!

  • ButcombeMan

    Cameron has sadly lost it.

    He has alientated too many of his core supporters, people who have been with the party right or wrong, for years.

    His support for redefining marriage absolutely alienates very many and especially Asian business leaders, people who are otherwise natural Tory voters. Getting them back, under Cameron at least, will be impossible.

    Voters understand the need for coalition and even compromise on some issues, but outside of the coalition economic situation, Cameron needs to reassure his core vote. He also needs to deliver, especially on Europe and reducing large government. This last is all too slow.

    He cannot now reassure anyone, natural supporters feel absolutely let down, UKIP beckons, disillusionment with all politics beckons.

    His tactical sense is just silly, if no Levinson enquiry existed he would (rightly) have had to call for an enquiry into Hunt’s back-channel to the Murdoch Sky bid. He would have had to do it now.

    Trying to use Levinson to get out of doing what is right, makes him look pathetic, look insecure, look weak and (just maybe), look to be knowingly involved. Mud sticks.

    He has no one around him with basic common sense who can blow in his ear.

  • MilkSnatcher

    Yes I struggled with the 3 credible ideas bit too

  • jordan ash

    Cameron know his responsibilities, when that judge tells him what’s been going on he will act “and act fast”.

  • paulg

    You have to laugh the conservative party is absolutely hated and that by its own supporters.

    There is no political cause in history that its own supporters despise so much.

    I suppose it is a good thing, as all the rest articulate nonsense.

  • Vulture


    Au contraire my old friend. A mere 15% of Tory MPs signing a letter to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee would trigger a leadership election.

    I don’t believe the Coalition would break up because the Lib Dems would be wiped and turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, but even if it did the Tories have enough seats to rule as a minority Government.

    Policies for growth, an EU referendum, a British Bill of Rights and a clamp on immigration ( including from the EU) would see a new leader (Boris?) win a landslide.

    Under dismal Dave the party is facing an utter wipeout, as Thursday’s polls will prove. Dave is now a dead duck.

  • Dennis Churchill

    April 29th, 2012 10:51am
    No it is not easy to arrange a leadership election because Cameron-Clegg IS the coalition therefore it would cease if either was deposed.
    Defections of MPs to UKIP is the catalyse that would bring about change nothing else.

  • Irascible Old Git

    Here’s a credible ides for you, Fergus.

    Invest for growth

  • Holly ……

    ‘Labour’s three incredible ideas’, so far…

    Ed Miliband as Prime Minister.
    Ed Balls as Chancellor
    Coop as Home Secretary.


  • Fergus Pickering

    Labour have to come up with three credible ideas? Give me one.

  • MilkSnatcher

    Difficult to see how they can regain a reputation for managerial competence now. All Labour have to do is come up with three credible ideas, the economy flat lines and the coalition looks like toast. A classic example of the adage that oppositions don’t win elections, incumbents lose them.

  • strapworld

    I thought he was awful. He makes a jelly look tough. Having told the world that Leveson was the right vehicle and,today, if new evidence comes to light when Hunt gives evidence to the enquiry, He will act.

    Then he is going to stick to their only plan, no change. Just wearing the number 10 blinkers.

    If this is firm leadership, God help us.

    Those standing as a conservative in the local elections must be wondering why!

  • phil chuds

    An EU referendum is this clowns only hope…..But pigs might fly

  • Irascible Old Git

    Curious how Cameron denied any knowledge of the ‘Grand Plan’ before Marr had even asked him a question about it.

    As for Goldman Sachs – that company is probably as mendacious as News Corp.

  • Heartless (Romantic) Curmudgeon

    The H2B has a reason for ‘getting out of bed’ ?

    He would do more good staying there – or just clear off somewhere – taking his motley crew with him, thereby making room for a capable Tory (we know who).

  • daniel maris

    It’s being reported that Rebekkah Brooks is prepared to release her correspondence with David Cameron. That can’t be good news.

    Neither could the story about Cameron’s ex (a co worker at Conservative Party HQ) sinking into alcoholism and drug addiction before becoming a nun. That sort of story can work like acid.

    Outlook not good I would say, but of course the underlying story is the evident failure of the government’s economic strategy.

    Cameron’s only chance I would say now would be to sack Osborne (aka “the jaws of death”, copyright Boris) and bring in someone more competent and appealing to the public(a swansong job for Ken Clarke?).

  • Vulture

    If Cameron said that this is a rainy April Sunday no-one would believe him, so shot to shreds is his credibility.

    Perhaps the fool now realises that by wantonly alienating core traditional beliefs – eg. over advocating gay marriage – he has terminally teed off those few remaining parts of the electorate who might have given him the benefit of the doubt.

    Cardinal O’Brien’s attack is a good example. It is no coincidence that O’Brien led the charge against gay marriage. Now he’s weighing in with a left foot clad in steel toecaps over Dave looking after his rich mates at the expense of the

    As I’ve said before, its time for the Tories to stop merely belly-aching about Dave and start organising for a ballot to get rid of him. It may be easier than they think.

    Perhaps Thursday’s polls will give the necessary impetus to the Stupid Party.

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