I always thought David Cameron’s alliance with Andrew Coulson would be unwise, even if it proved successful in the short-term. The News Of The World’s ex-editor undoubtedly has much skill and insight into how to market a political party and ‘spin’ news reports but the somewhat unpalatable nature of the newspaper he worked for was bound to catch up with him eventually.
The NoW has historically been the very definition of the gutter-press; it has always traded in salacious sex scandals, building up and knocking down Z-list celebrities, drumming up hysterical moral panic and trashing anything resembling good sense. It is the bastion of all-things Murdoch; in many ways his manifesto in ‘newspaper form’, even more so than The Sun. It is within this insalubrious environment that Andrew Coulson honed his craft.
One of the greatest problems inherent in editing the NoW is that you’ll inevitably make enemies; Coulson must have made thousands. He doesn’t even seem gifted with a charming personality, which may have helped him to smooth things out with previously injured parties. Therefore, I find it shocking that people don’t throw things at him whenever he goes out in public; the only explanation I can think of is that people don’t recognise him. Fortunately for him, his appearance is largely forgettable. No such luck where Cameron is concerned – certainly I’d be able to recognise that face anywhere and sometimes it gives me nightmares.
Unlike New Labour’s alliance with Alastair Campbell, Coulson is fast becoming a liability for the Conservatives. The far more shrewd Campbell carried far less baggage with him than Coulson who is mired with questionable journalistic practices like phone-hacking, fake Sheiks, and so on, many of which hover on the cusp of illegality, if not – on occasion – directly crossing over it. The Conservatives were flirting with danger by appointing him and may well be damaged by association.
There is also the issue of News International’s interests being furthered by the influence of their ex-employee; this is already bringing criticisms of sleaze and corruption. Cameron prior to the General Election bragged of his intention to “clean-up politics”, and so such allegations must be embarrassing. Will Cameron sack him? He claims he is giving Coulson his full-support. Coulson ought to be quaking in his boots then.
Politicians must be seen as maintaining standards and nobody knows this better than Coulson, who in his previous role revelled in printing allegations of sleaze, tawdry affairs and corruption. Editors of the gutter-press don’t have to worry about being disliked and often enjoy the notoriety their newspapers bring to them. The repellent Kelvin McKenzie is an example of this and Coulson is perhaps as disgusting. Isn’t it therefore logical that politicians would be damaged by such vile association?