Miliband Twists the Hilton Knife

Asked if he was accusing the Prime Minister of lying about what he knew regarding the information passed to Steve Hilton, the increasingly confident Labour leader said “I’m not going to throw around allegations, but… what I’m saying is the Prime Minister has a whole series of unanswered questions on this issue.” And he’s right…

If they want this angle to die down, Number 10 need to get their line on this clear today. The longer they leave the speculation of who knew what, and when, the longer it looks like they cannot, or are not willing to, provide an accurate narrative. It’s very simple – did Steve Hilton discuss the two Guardian contacts with his boss. Yes or no?

Cameron Presser – “No Stone Left Unturned”
“Would Have Accepted Brooks’ Resignation”

  • This scandal about more than one paper and goes to the heart of our media, police and politics. He said police investigations can only go so far, so there will be a full judge-led inquiry into the last police investigation. Apparently “no stone will be left unturned”.
  • Second inquiry this summer led by  independent industry figures looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the British press. PCC “ineffective and lacking in rigour  – need a new system that is independent of the press.
  • “We’ve all been in this together” – parties and papers have been in bed and this is a wake up call. “it’s on my watch that the music has stopped”.
  • No apology for hiring Coulson, said no one seriously questioned his ability to do the job “but the second chance didn’t work out”. Said he would have accepted Brooks resignation…

On the ropes during questioning:

  • Said he “commissioned a company to do a basic background check.”
  • Clearly dodged specific questions on what he had asked Coulson.
  • Repeated over and over that “he gave Coulson a second chance.”
  • Still “friends” with Coulson but conceded he didn’t ask what else there was to come.
  • Brought prospect of James Murdoch being questioned by the police “the statement yesterday leads to all sorts of questions that need to be answered”
  • Dismissed Guardian suggestion that he was warned with any “actual information”

No apology, even when pushed hard.

Only 7% Believe That Brooks Did Not Know

A poll by Survation for Channel 4 News has found 72% of the public do not believe that executives at News International were unaware of the new hacking allegations. As the nation wakes up to the confusion that the newspaper that most ardently supports our armed services was snooping on our dead servicemen, things aren’t looking good for anyone.

The country seems split on the BSkyB deal, with 48% now thinking News Corp are unfit to proceed with the deal, but that could the least of the worries. The magnificent Peter Oborne has given Cameron two barrels in the Telegraph:

“Until now it has been easy to argue that Mr Cameron was properly grounded with a decent set of values. Unfortunately, it is impossible to make that assertion any longer. He has made not one, but a long succession of chronic personal misjudgments…

So the Prime Minister is in a mess. To put the matter rather more graphically, he is in a sewer.”

Things are starting to turn for Cameron very rapidly and we’re yet to reach the bottom…

Huntsman Throws Spanner in Romney’s London Visit

Given the Yanks are in town to write about British politics, Guido thought he would turn his hand to the American presidential bid. Coincidently Republican front-runner Mitt Romney is also in London today to raise some cash from expats. He is trying to keep a low profile and avoid the media, though apparently he’s a little put out Dave is too busy to see him. Those McCain pictures still haunt some in Cameroon circles…

However  just because the visit is going under the radar doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any campaign fun and games. Romney was meant to be putting his cap around at the home of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, but has been forced to move his fundraiser and other meetings to Dartmouth House in Mayfair instead.

It turns out Lady Rothschild is an extremely vocal supporter of Romney’s rival Jon Huntsman and has raised $1.2 million for him already. Apparently her position was made very clear…

Perhaps a coincidence that the Huntsman campaign poached Conyers Davies, CCHQ’s Head of Operations, at the end of last month…

Real War For the Speaker

After the tension between Dave and Bercow flared up again last week, the PM has responded very publicly to the Speaker’s sarcasm. PA report from the PM’s trip to Afghanistan:

“Commons Speaker John Bercow is to spend time trading places with his counterpart in Afghanistan, it was revealed today. Bercow and Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi have been lined up for an exchange scheme agreed between the two countries. Asked if Bercow had been approached to participate in the exchange, a Downing Street spokesman said: “I am sure he is fully supportive of our efforts.”

Of course he is. Apparently “British and Afghan MPs, peers and senators could also take part…” Mark Pritchard and Peter Bone should start packing their bags.

Where’s Dave?

The PM did not attend this morning’s Reagan statue unveiling due to a “long standing international engagement”. Paul Waugh has been dropping hints all morning, and now that a British soldier has gone missing in Afghanistan, might we be seeing the PM leading the search from the front? So to speak… 

UPDATE:

Gillan’s Turn For an Awkward Question

Last week Guido revealed that Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan might have had a hand in the awkward question to the Prime Minister, asking whether she would be sacked over her opposition to high-speed rail. Given the planned route practically goes through her garden, she is resisting the plans, in the face of collective responsibility. Well it looks like it’s her turn to twist a little at the despatch box.

Guido hears that a question lined up for Welsh Questions at 11.30 is along the lines of “what exactly will high-speed rail bring to Wales?” Given the next thing on the order paper is PMQs, Gillan will be sat next to Dave immediately after her grilling . Guido is sure they will have lots to say to each other…

Quote of the Day

Cameron on the death of Christopher Shale…

“A big rock in my life has suddenly been rolled away.”

Gillan’s Planted Shot at Dave

Welsh Labour MP Wayne David asked what seemed like vicious question at PMQs about the Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan:

WD: The Secretary of State for Wales has said that she is prepared to be sacked because of her opposition to

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Exclusive: Cam Rage Consultant On Permanent Leave

The consultant who flipped a switch when he saw Cameron, Clegg and Lansley in his ward with a camera crew who had not rolled up their sleeves, despite being told they did not have to by other staff, has been […]

+ READ MORE +

When Dave Liked The Generals Talking

As the Prime Minister tried to slap down his turbulent generals with a well rehearsed, off-the-cuff, “you do the fighting and I’ll do the talking”, Guido was trying to remember when he last heard Dave in such a combative mood. […]

+ READ MORE +

Quote of the Day

Ed Staite gives a frank account of Dave’s relationship with Policy Exchange:

“…people keep reminding them of that pizza and coke fueled conversation on the floor of their first offices…”[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Chuka has been trying to spin the Siemens row:

Chuka Umunna: It’s no different from Sky News quoting a business leader.

Adam Boulton: Except yours says ‘VOTE LABOUR’ at the bottom.

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