David Cameron has made some errors of judgement since coming to power just over a year ago.
A coalition of his right of centre party with a left of centre party may have been the first, for, although it seems not to have hurt him in the country, he has made some dangerous enemies inside his party. From there on in he has U-turned himself into something resembling a corkscrew on health, welfare, law and order, crime and punishment, the environment, finance, the EU, the “respect” agenda, and on and on... so much so that whilst those of us who are of a different political colour have not known whether to laugh or cry, followers have found themselves with an easier choice and a bill for Kleenex!
I’ve always said that Cameron had no substance; that he owed his success to a mixture of wealth (and the clout that that brings), a distant familial relationship with royals (and the clout that that brings) and his natural ability as a PR man. He lacks depth and intellectual vigour and his upbringing has left him with as much idea of what goes on in the head of Monsieur Tout le Monde as I have of the passing thoughts of the Sultan of Brunei.
But perhaps the most important example of his lack of judgement has been in his choice of friends.
Every prime minister, it appears, has to make some sort of respectful concession to one of the country’s most powerful men, News International’s (NI) Rupert (I have a file on everyone) Murdoch, but David, because he could, decided to go farther.
Not only did he court friendship with Rebekah Wade-Brookes, inviting her to dinner, and dining at her home while her organisation was in the midst of negotiations to acquire BSkyB, over which the business and later culture secretary had the final say, but he insisted on employing, as press secretary, her disgraced colleague, Andy Coulson, who had resigned from NI over the scandal of phone hacking minor royals. “I believe”, he said, “in giving people a second chance”.
I wouldn’t have touched him with a tarry pole. He was damaged goods, and either he lied through his teeth to get the job, or Cameron believed that with the police in the pockets of NI, all would be well. The people at the top would look after each other, as they always had.
But bit by bit the stitching came apart. More and more people reported their phones had been tapped. This time “celebrities”, then politicians...then Coulson resigned, leaving us to suppose that the worst was yet to come.
As come it has. Victims of crime have been hacked; police inquiries into murder have been hampered; police have been in the pay of NI, and the person who signed the cheques was Cameron’s boy Andy (Second Chance) Coulson.
The last I read was that phones of soldiers killed in action may have been hacked. Just how much lower is there to go?
Mr Cameron is associated closely with the people at the top of an organisation which knew these things were going on no matter how hard they try to act as if they didn’t, despite everyone expressing “shock and horror”; Rebekah, David and even Rupert.
So, were all these people naive, gullible fools who just sometimes wondered where all these fabulous stories were coming from? Or are they hard hitting million/billionaires, who knew but didn’t care?
And are David Cameron and his premiership forever tainted by association with them? Indeed is it time to look for a prime minister with a little substance?