The Andy Coulson saga involves a trial. The Lynton Crosby controversy does not. This helps to explain why the latter is a classic Westminster Village story, with its complex calculations about conflicting interests and chinese walls. (David Cameron's strategist is a Party and not a Government employee, and even then only a part-time one.) Boris Johnson's dismissal of the whole business as a "storm in a teacup" will have reflected Downing Street's hope that the Crosby story is only still running because the lobby has little else to write about at the end of the Parliamentary term.
However, the story won't go away forever or even for long, whether this hope is realised or not. Any enterprising journalist can simply look at Government policy on the one hand, dig around about Crosby's business interests on the other…and then write his story. Number 10 will want to close this drip-feed of allegations down, rather than take the risk of them not reverberating beyond the village. I wrote earlier this week that there are only two ways of doing so – either sacking Crosby, or promoting him: in other words, getting him to drop his other clients until 2015, which would involve, as Boris puts it, killing the fatted calf, pushing the boat out and "doing whatever it takes".
As I said, the latter is clearly the better option – and Downing Street may be taking the same view. The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that there is a "working assumption" that Crosby will stop acting for other clients after he becomes a full time adviser to Cameron next January. "It is understood
that the strategist is “not averse” to working exclusively for Mr Cameron in
the 15 months before the next general election," the paper claimed. Is Cameron poised to adopt the ConservativeHome solution?