I’m a bit cross with DC. I didn’t see his interview on Channel 4 yesterday, but it popped up on my Google alert (an excellent device that lets you know who’s saying what about you) when he defended Andy Coulson by saying he attracted nothing like the controversy of me or GB’s man, Damian McBride.
Now I have to say if I had ever been accused of presiding over phone-hacking, the controversy would have raged non-stop. But put that to one side. The media continues to give the coalition an easy ride and there is not much I can do about that.
But the comparison with Damian was not one I appreciate, DC. No need to go into why. Fairly obvious to anyone who worked with us, politicians, civil servants and journos alike.
But I do want to say this – as TB said in his book, I never had a single complaint from a civil servant about the way I operated, despite the constant accusations (in the media and from Tories) of politicisation.
And I will also say this – if the PM I worked for had been elected on a promise to ‘restore Cabinet government’ after the so-called ‘sofa government’ of the Blair years, I would have made sure the Home Secretary knew in advance, and was involved in discussions, if a major policy change on child benefit was to be announced.
It was blindingly obvious on Newsnight last night that home secretary Teresa May was unaware of the change until she heard it on the radio on the morning of George Osborne’s speech. We can safely assume that if she was in the dark, they all were apart from the DC/GO inner circle.
The reason Mr Cameron was doing interviews at all was to deal with the furore caused by a policy that was not in the manifesto, had not been discussed among ministers and had clearly not been the subject of even basic political groundwork.
And of course in dealing with one policy problem caused by making it up as you go along, he seems to have caused another, with his cone pitch on marriage and tax. Hope a few microphones are diverted from the conference to some Lib Dem ministers today.
The Newsnight format of having a few delegates in the audience to follow the main interviews and then engage in debates is a good one. The looks on the delegates’ faces are getting more alarmed by the day.
Alas, I will miss all the TV coverage today. Teaching in my class of challenging children in the morning, then off to Liverpool for a dinner. Hope the internet connection on the train stands up to it. Am looking forward to DC’s speech. Could be all sorts of surprises. Because the main sense I get so far is that they are making it up as they go along. Never happened in my day, AC/DC