Yes, that time of the week has come round again, and as Young Dave takes on the rest of the Commons, but especially Mil The Younger, there is one subject that is going to crop up, whether Cameron wants it to or not, and that is Andy Coulson. The only imponderable is the angles that may be explored. So, to business.
It was always going to be about Coulson. Speaker Bercow knew this, by setting out the ground rules as to what he would allow.
And the conclusion was not good for Cameron. No amount of softball grovelling, no mention of the Long Term Economic Plan, no invitation to agree that the other lot were rubbish, would save him. In any case, by the time the grovellers spoke up, Dave was already finished.
Miliband took it step by step: the Guardian’s first expose in 2009. The PM’s own deputy warning him. The New York Times splash in 2010. The failure to secure Developed Vetting (DV) for Coulson, as his six predecessors had received. What Gus O’Donnell may have been asked, and what advice he gave.
Cameron could do no more than deploy a copy of the Leveson Inquiry report as his shield, behind which he sheltered, as if expecting it to provide some sort of cover, in a jaw-dropping display or rank hypocrisy, as he’s done his best not to take any notice of it when it comes to press regulation.
Time and again he accused Miliband of being the sole person who called for that Inquiry. Time and again he waffled that “he cannot bear to ...”. And time and again the Speaker had to calm matters, on one occasion suggesting that those who could not exercise restraint might leave the chamber.
But Leveson was inquiring into “The culture, practice and ethics of the press”, not how to appoint a spinmeister. And Dave kept on waffling, at one stage excusing himself by inviting the House to look at Damian McBride, Jo Moore and Alastair Campbell, who might have something to say about that.
Mililband – with Ronnie Campbell and Yasmin Qureshi following up – put Cameron on the skewer and kept him there. Chris Bryant increased the discomfort by suggesting the PM’s “second chance” remark meant he knew there had been a first offence.
As The Italian Job’s Mr Bridger might have put it, it didn’t kill him – just gave him a Good Going Over. Not a good day for Dave.
All the bravado couldn't disguise a feeble performance - hiding behind Leveson, blaming the Civil Service. Zero credibility.
I must have watched a different PMQ. Cameron has had many months to prepare for this moment and it showed. Miliband did his best but even with Coulson being found guilty he was unable to land a blow. The only thing we can take from this is Murdoch's influence has been weakened but for how long?
A bit of mea culpa on my part. Having watched the BBC and ITV news yesterday evening they chose Miliband's comments over Cameron's feeble replies.
It's when you see what gets through to the TV news bulletins that you realise Miliband is rather more effective than many pundits believe.
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