The Thick of It


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

David Cameron, Liam Fox, Andy Coulson: spot the difference

David Cameron is resisting rising pressure to fire his Defence Secretary Liam Fox. The allegations that Fox and his associate Adam Werrity had a rather unhealthy working relationship continue to dominate the news and to undermine Fox's initial claims that there was nothing in them.

Cameron is trying to divert us all by highlighting what (he believes) a good job Fox is doing. That is irrelevant when Fox has lied and broken the ministerial code. It also marks a distinct change of approach from former PM Tony Blair's management of scandals.

Under Blair and Alistair Campbell's rule, anyone who was making bad headlines for more than two days had to quit. It happened to Peter Mandelson despite him later being found to have done nothing wrong. Fox has whispered a hugely caveated apology, that he clearly felt no reason to give.

The question here is how long will Cameron hang on to a minster in Fox who is now responsible for more than a week of damaging headlines? Cameron has form, after employing Andy Coulson in the first place and then clinging on to him by his fingernails despite a growing storm around him about phone hacking.

What was Cameron's defence? At the time he said Coulson was doing a "good job."

We've heard this before. How many more times will a less than convincing Cameron utter them before cutting his losses with Fox?

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