The Thick of It

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Phone tapping and smearing

David Cameron has backed Andy Coulson after the News of the World was alleged to have illegally phone tapped private citizens to subsequently smear their reputations. This could be dangerous, especially if Labour's planned attack is able to stick mud to Cameron's reputation.

However, I doubt whether Labour have the team to really mount a successful sleaze campaign, the moral high ground to do so or a receptive media to take on the campaign. Comparisons could be drawn with the Damien McBride and Derek Draper "Red Rag" affair a few months ago, where there Brown's aide was forced to quit. However, Coulson has not been accused of doing anything wrong whilst working for the Tories.

The phone tapping allegations are not all that surprising, distasteful though they are. It isn't that far removed from journalists rooting through rubbish bins to find information. It is potentially damaging to Cameron. While taking the political initiative over Brown in the expenses scandal, he hasn't come out of it with his nose clean. Cameron himself claimed some of the highest expenses possible. Coulson's role or otherwise in phone tapping just makes it that little bit harder for Cameron to claim he is the anti-sleaze champion, especially when he backs Coulson publicly.

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