I won’t be joining those who want to dance on Andy Coulson’s grave. Back in 2010, I wrote a blogpost for which I have since been widely ridiculed. It was headlined “Coulson’s accusers can go to hell”. It began:
“Andy Coulson is bloody good at his job. That’s why the likes of The Guardian, Alastair Campbell, Prescott and Johnson are doing their best to jump on the back of the New York Times story about an ex- News of the World journalist who was sacked by the paper for persistent drug and alcohol problems. You don’t think he might have a grudge, do you? They all want Coulson’s scalp. Well, sod ’em.”
“Whatever people thought of Andy Coulson’s appointment back in 2006, over the last four years he has proved himself in the job. He’s bloody good at it. His accusers are political opportunists who were part of a government which did far worse things than anything Coulson is accused of. As far as I am concerned they can go to hell. Coulson is innocent until proven guilty.”
Well, he’s now been found guilty of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages. I don’t question the jury’s verdict, but I stand by my comments in 2010. The fact is that Coulson was incredibly good at the job Cameron employed him to do. Just look at what has happened to the Government’s communications since then and you see how good Coulson actually was.
But the question remains, should he have ever been in the job in the first place? David Cameron’s explanation of wanting to give him a second chance is all very well, but the fact is that upon entering Number Ten Coulson should have undergone the normal vetting procedures for someone in that position. He didn’t, for reasons no one has adequately explained. Damian McBride points out that there is no way he could have come through that procedure unscathed. And he should know.
Interestingly, it was George Osborne who persuaded David Cameron to appoint Coulson in the first place, over the rival candidate, Guto Harri. And irony of ironies, Harri is now Director of Communications at, wait for it, News International. It’s a funny old world.
It seems that Cameron’s campaign to junk Jean Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission will end in ignominy today in Brussels. But the fact is he has right on his side, and it is to his credit he has fought till the bitter end. Unfortunately, it gives UKIP the chance to say that if he can’t win this particular skirmish, how on earth will he be able to win the war of membership renegotiation?
And they’d have a point, wouldn’t they? Perhaps it is best to junk renegotiation altogether. What’s the point if there is no chance of persuading the powers that be in Brussels that they need to change. Juncker’s appointment rather proves that there is little point in even trying. So maybe instead the Prime Minister should just offer an in/out referendum with no renegotiation caveat at all. Just a thought.
Luis Suarez. ****. That is all.
Barack Obama, are you Jimmy Carter in disguise? Carter’s presidency ended when Iran took US citizens hostage in Tehran. Obama’s presidency may end with Iran taking control of a large part of Iraq. Way to go.
At some point over the next few months, we are going to find out what Boris Johnson is made of. His popularity ratings in London are at an all-time high. Half way through his second term, he has approval ratings of 64 per cent. Almost North Korean levels. At the LBC State of London debate this week, there was some disquiet about all the rumours about him being a lame duck and part time mayor. If he does indeed fight a seat at the next election he’s going to have to put up with a hell of a lot of flak for serving with a dual mandate. I still wouldn’t rule out him changing his mind altogether and standing for a third term. If you look at the seven dwarves who are considering standing for Labour, I suspect he’d be in with a very good chance of winning again. Tessa Jowell is the only Labour candidate who could make me revise that opinion.
This has nothing to do with politics, and it certainly isn’t funny, but it is aimed at any of you with an elderly mother. Two years ago this week, we buried our mother and I gave the eulogy at her funeral. It was an awful day, yet there was also something fantastic about it. The fact that 200 or so people gathered to honour her and the way she lived her life was something to behold. It was a beautiful day, and although she herself hated funerals, I like to think that she might have even slightly enjoyed her own. The service was perfect, the sun was shining through the church windows and in the end we all got through it.
But two years on, the pain is still there. They say time heals, but there is still that huge hole in my life, in our lives, that can never again be filled. I still can’t quite believe I will never see her again. So the point of this little piece is to say to you, make the most of your Mum while you still have time. One day you won’t be able to, and you won’t want to look back and think ‘if only I had…’. As a son, I had my mother’s unconditional love and I hope I repaid it. I know she was incredibly proud of me, but there is still a part of me that thinks I failed her, even though I can’t articulate why. All I do know is that I still miss her terribly and think of her every single day. And I hope I always will.
Many political pundits watching Neil Kinnock fail to kick the ball into the back of the net during the Westland debate in early 1986 reckon that was the moment when they realised he was all wind and no cut-through. I wonder if Ed Miliband’s similar performance at PMQs this week on phone hacking will have a similar result.