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Sunday 9 October 2011

Decision Time For Dave

[Update at end of post]

Why am I not surprised? Defence Secretary Liam Fox is in deep trouble over the activities of his former flat-mate Adam Werrity, there is talk of “security implications”, the revelations keep on coming – with Guardian, Observer and Telegraph all in the vanguard – and Young Dave has moved from giving Fox his full support, to wanting to know what on earth is going on – by tomorrow morning.

It should not have come to this, as I pointed out previously (HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE): Cameron, who appears loath to act swiftly and decisively – and got caught out with Andy Coulson – should have sacked Fox last year when the leaks started from the MoD. There was one common thread to all those leaks, and that was Fox’s closeness to them.

Young Dave has not learnt his basic Machiavelli: do not allow opponents to build a power base. Fox has used his cachet as standard bearer of the Tory right to get away with being very adjacent to leaks that undermined first Cameron, and then the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet, who would not be unhappy to see the Defence Secretary depart.

One plus point for Young Dave in using the Werrity affair to remove Fox would be that it would be next to impossible for the sacked man to build any kind of back bench power base when tainted by ministerial impropriety: a birthday meeting with Margaret Thatcher will count for nothing if Fox is unable to rebut the tide of revelations – which shows no sign of ebbing just yet.

But who would step into the hot seat at the MoD to replace Fox? Now is maybe not the time for full scale reshuffle, bringing as it would more potential strains with the Lib Dems. Cameron could do a lot worse than bring back David Davis to see out the rest of this parliamentary term at Defence, knowing that the MP for Haltemprice and Howden is a safe pair of hands and popular with the Tory right.

Meanwhile, if Fox does walk the plank, look out for the usual suspects among the commentariat and blogosphere agitating for a Lib Dem to be binned as an act of Coalition equality – any excuse to have another go at Chris Huhne.

Some folks just can’t let go of the silly season.

[UPDATE 1820 hours: right on cue, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes, has first told his readers that Fox is even money to be next out of the cabinet, and has then agitated - as I predicted - for a Lib Dem scalp as well, which, surprise, surprise, has to be Chris Huhne. The Great Guido is all too predictable in his magnificence]

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