Anyone who watched the Prime Minister today give a statement to the House of Commons along with taking questions on the matter can’t have failed to notice two things. To the left of the PM sat George Osbourne who looks as though he had swallowed a gallon of sherbet bit his face was so sour and grum and to the right of the PM sat Nick Clegg who could hardly even look at the PM. He sat looking constantly to his right and away from the PM looking like he couldn’t even look at his child he was so disappointed in him.
Of course the likelihood is we (well I) are (am) looking far too deeply into this but you have to think that Nick Clegg is not a happy bunny. His body language screamed out that he wanted to be anywhere else but there. Is this because he had to postpone a holiday or is it in fact more to do with the fact that had David Cameron listened to his and Lord Ashdown’s rather strong advice to get rid of Andy Coulson then the government wouldn’t be under so much public pressure.
It is now well known that it was Andy Coulson himself who went to bat after the first Prime Ministers debate last year and planted the bad stories about Nick Clegg in the media. Coulson himself went out of his way to discredit Clegg personally more so than his party. A personal attack is never a good thing but considering the attack didn’t do enough to stop Clegg wielding the power of kingmaker it was a failure.
Clegg would have to go work with Coulson as Cameron refused to get rid of him. Now a year or so later Nick Clegg sits there able to look at David Cameron and tell him that he was wrong. The moment when the Deputy Prime Minister can look in the face of the PM and tell him that he made a mistake – a mistake that he had been warned about – the situation changes. Cameron himself now knows that Clegg is not a fool and has the upper-hand but privately – and publicly – on one big issue – the Murdoch’s/News International/Andy Coulson – and Cameron can’t do a damned thing about it.
The Tories can sense weakness in Cameron and the longer this story drags on – and it shows no sign of easing up any time soon – then the longer Cameron will be twisting in the wind wondering if his world will come crashing down around him. Suddenly it isn’t Chris Huhne who is the talk of the town. David Laws is a year removed from being a story. Vince Cable was proved right to want to attack the Murdoch Empire and Nick Clegg quietly sits watching from the sidelines unable to even glance at his boss.
Not that long ago Nick Clegg was derided by many but you just don’t hear people talking about him any more – and that my friends is a good thing. ‘No news is good news’ they say – well no news about Nick Clegg means that he’s not doing anything wrong and if he’s not doing anything wrong then he’s probably doing something right. Ed Miliband looks great and sounds great and I’ll grant him that but having an opposition within is a far bigger problem for Cameron at the moment. The Tory backbenchers are decidingly unhappy and then there is Nick Clegg and his pals. They were right all along and they don’t even have to gloat – Cameron knows it and for the PM – that is his biggest problem of all.
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