So Andy Coulson will soon depart 10 Downing Street for the last time. Will that be the end of the affair? Not a chance. There are two strands to the fallout from last Friday’s events, and neither will resolve themselves in the immediate term. The most urgent, from Young Dave’s point of view, is to get himself a new spinmeister, and quickly.
I’m aware that, by emphasising the speed with which Cameron needs to move, my analysis diverges from the line that some have been taking over the weekend. This holds, more or less, that PM and Chancellor needed Coulson back in 2007 when they were less sure of themselves and the Tory right was showing signs of inconvenient behaviour, but that their self confidence and authority have grown, to the extent that Coulson’s departure will not concern them unduly.
This was the approach taken in the Maily Telegraph by Andrew Porter. And it is utter and complete bullshit.
So it should surprise no-one that Porter engaged his grey matter and later penned a piece giving the view from Tory maverick David Davis, where Cameron’s former rival for the party leadership reminds the Telegraph’s readership why Coulson was so useful in the first place: he was the only one close to Young Dave who came from an ordinary background and understood the priorities and concerns of those who didn’t go to Eton.
Coulson was there to remind former Buller men Cameron and Osborne that not everyone could routinely afford to quaff enough Dom Perignom to cause them to pass out, especially when the bill for trashing the reassuringly upmarket restaurant was taken into consideration.
And, no matter how much self confidence the current occupants of 10 and 11 Downing Street have acquired since 2007, that link to those who in the past have been characterised as “Basildon Man” or “Sierra Man” is now absent. And the Tory right is still showing signs of inconvenient behaviour.
So Cameron needs to replace Coulson, and replace him with someone who can give that connection to the ordinary Joe and Joanne, before the next crisis. Meanwhile, the second strand to the fallout from last Friday – the seemingly never ending saga of Phonehackgate – rumbles on, and could yet damage the present Government.
I’ll return to that later in the week.