Daily Israel Report

Coulson Scandal Hits Cameron In Weak Spot

David Cameron's reputation as a Tory modernizer makes him more vulnerable in the current scandal.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 7/8/2011, 5:08 PM / Last Update: 7/8/2011, 6:53 PM

 

British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken a hit due to the arrest of his former spokesperson Andrew Coulson as part of the telephone hacking scandal that is rocking Great Britain. Belatedly, Ron announced the formation of a judge-led inquiry committee in an attempt to batten down the hatches.

Some politicians shrug off the downfall of political associates - President Dwight D Eisenhower, due to his immense popularity, easily overcame the Sherman Adams bribery scandal. Sometimes a scandal or an overall impression of sleaze can doom an administration, as occurred during the tenure of Prime Minister John Major.

Cameron suffers because people now question his personal judgment in appointing Coulson after he had received warnings from the police about Coulson's possible involvement in the scandal. The Prime Minister's assumption of responsibility will not quell the furor.

His political judgment is in question because he failed to anticipate the seriousness of the charges and hoped they would go away by ignoring them.

Cameron will have to keep a distance from media mogul Rupert Murdoch and most probably veto Murdoch's takeover of Sky television. Murdoch has been a major force in British politics because his papers have backed the winner in every British parliamentary election since 1992.

Given his track record one would be ill advised to underestimate Murdoch's recuperative powers but his help will be unavailable to the PM in the immediate term.

Cameron is taking a hit because he has finally supplied the leader of the opposition Ed Miliband with an issue that he can run with and speak passionately and sincerely about. For the first time since he became party leader, Miliband has Cameron on the defensive.

David Cameron has been described as a Tory modernizer. Tory modernizer is the Conservative party equivalent of New Labor. Just as Tony Blair sought to bring the positions of the Labour Party in line with the positions of "Middle Britain, David Cameron repaid the compliment by giving the Conservative party a facelift to remedy the problems responsible for its recent unpopularity.

Tony Blair was a major success in this respect; David Cameron has partially imitated him. The success comes at a price. A Labour or Conservative Prime Minister more in tune with the ideological base of his party is less susceptible to charges of illicit relations with the media because he is presumed to have ideological backbone.

While Blair or Cameron may have strong views of their own, their willingness to challenge and tweak their party's ideology makes them more suspect of media flimflam. Therefore the association with Coulson, similar to the charge that Blair misled the British public on Iraq, can stick with greater persistence to them.