David Cameron is the Sarah Palin of British politics. He has the same cavalier attitude to what is right and wrong; he sees no problem in giving advantages to friends and family, at public expense; and he thinks about the implications — not at all.
This has got him into a bit of hot water. His close relationship with James Murdoch, the time he spends with Rebekah Brooks, the way he steered the competition commission to agree the takeover of BskyB (media power was “out of scope”) — all point to a man who will favour this newspaper mogul and his empire, regardless of right or wrong.
It’s been called the “Chipping Norton” set, and it is a bit murky. Will the PM’s dodgy relationships be his downfall?
The rot often starts with a single bad relationship. David Cameron is in good company. Harold Wilson had too cosy a relationship with a dodgy businessman. Ian MacMillan fell apart from his relationship with the Cliveden set. But David Cameron has had it coming — unnumberable U-turns because he announced the policy before checking what would happen, and the wise MPs in the House of Commons took it apart before the House of Lords could; undermining his Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; looking so shiny, he could be a waxworks and Madame Tussaud’s. And anyway, Murdoch may be on the way out. Shares rose in News International during the Select Committee interrogation of the Murdochs and Brooks – not because they answered well, but because they may be declared “not fit and proper” and the media empire may move into different, more profitable hands!
But if the Prime Minister is forced to resign, will the Deputy Prime Minister step up to the plate? The Deputy Prime Minister holds that title because it is he (or she) who becomes the Prime Minister, when the Prime Minister isn’t available. So if David Cameron is taken down, by rights, Nick Clegg should become Prime Minister.
I don’t see it happening. I think we are about to find out that Nick Clegg has a pretty title, but no power. If the Tory party take David Cameron out of the equation, they aren’t going to let some upstart become Prime Minister — they are simply going to overrule the constitution, and replace him with the new “leader of the Tory party”.
Can we do anything about it?
No. We’ve got the politicians we deserve, we’ve spent so long not caring who’s in Parliament that we’ve ended up with politicians who care about themselves and not us. We can’t sack them, because the media owns our opinions. We can’t replace them, because they are selected — imposed even — by the central party. It’s a tough time to be an ordinary citizen.