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David Cameron’s Popularity Dips After Phone Hacking “Murdochalypse”

Posted on the 22 July 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
David Cameron’s popularity dips after phone hacking “Murdochalypse”

David Cameron at Davos, 2011. Photo credit: Sebastian Derungs, ©World Economic Forum

It would be fair to say these have not exactly been David Cameron’s best few weeks in Downing Street. As the phone-hacking scandal rumbles on, the UK Prime Minister has come under intense pressure over his relationship with News International’s Rebekah Brooks, back-door meetings with Rupert Murdoch and the decision to hire former New of the World editor Andy Coulson as communications director. While calls for his resignation have been relatively sporadic – among MPs, at least – Ladbrokeshas cut the odds of the Prime Minister stepping down before the end of the year to 5/1. So what next for David Cameron?

Odds of David Cameron resigning before 31 December 2011: 5/1. Source: Ladbrokes.

  • Political “obituary”. The BBC has already made up its mind, according to Tim Walker’s Mandrake diary in The Telegraph: “Mandrake hears on good authority that the BBC has begun work on a political “obituary” of the Prime Minister, for broadcast immediately after he leaves Number 10,” he wrote. Walker speculated that the BBC may “know something we don’t”, given that Cameron’s current director of communications, Craig Oliver, was previously a senior executive at the Corporation. A BBC spokesperson has denied that the “obituary programme” is on the cards.

53% of the public are “dissatisfied” with the way David Cameron is doing his job. Source: Ipsos MORI poll.

  • Poll position. The phone-hacking scandal has dented Cameron’s personal popularity: his approval rating has dropped from +5 to -5 since March, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published on Monday 18 June. Nevertheless, the poll put the UK Prime Minister ahead of the coalition government and other politicians in the popularity stakes, and showed the Conservatives leading Labour by one point. However, a Times/Populus poll gave a different picture, putting Cameron’s Conservatives at 34 points against Labour’s 39. Meanwhile, over half of respondents to an Ipsos MORI poll were “dissatisfied” with David Cameron as Prime Minister. All polls showed a small rise in popularity for Labour leader Ed Miliband. In conclusion: Cameron down, Miliband up (a little bit).
  • Public trust? The Economist argued that Cameron could face serious leadership issues in the future if he lost public trust – but suggested the public didn’t particularly trust him anyway:  ”Slickness, evasiveness and proximity to media elites have always been part of the Cameron brand—he spent seven years as a public-relations adviser, after all. That voters probably had lower ethical expectations of him to begin with could, perversely, help him now.”

“Labour have now milked the last drop of success.” Daniel Knowles, The Telegraph.

  • Fightback! Putting aside the electorate’s views, what of the MPs? In the red corner, Labour MPs Gerald Kaufman  and Dennis Skinner have called for Cameron’s resignation, but they are in the minority; Ed Miliband has ramped up the rhetoric, describing a “deliberate attempt to hide from the facts about Mr Coulson”. In the blue corner, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has proved a staunch ally, and it seems Cameron has done enough to win over his own party.  Writing in The Telegraph, Daniel Knowles described the “rapturous reception” Cameron received when he addressed the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers. “After today’s Commons performance, Tories feel this scandal is spent – they’ve been hurt, and some questions remain unanswered, but Labour have now milked the last drop of success,” he wrote. Knowles suggested that the public is “bored of this endless story” and argued that Labour will look “out of touch” if they continue to push to keep phone-hacking on the agenda.
  • More to come. Martin Kettle was rather more pessimistic about David Cameron’s prospects in The Guardian, arguing that there are still unanswered questions that may yet prove fatal to the Prime Minister. Kettle highlighted the handling of the BSkyB deal and Cameron’s relationship with Andy Coulson as two such outstanding issues, and questioned the Prime Minister’s management of the scandal: “Cameron has handled much of the crisis with his usual reliable feel for modern politics. But he has also revealed a what-the-hell insouciance that may yet prove his Achilles heel.”
  • Cameron doomed. But none of this really matters, because Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin has, at last, stepped in – and he wants Cameron to go. “For the UK… try not to be like the USA. Zero tolerance for abuses like this criminal activity. Cameron should resign,” tweeted the 30 Rock star. In 2004 film Team America: World Police, Alec Baldwin was portrayed as North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il’s puppet (literally and figuratively); the actor’s interference in global politics nearly caused the destruction of planet Earth.

More on phone hacking

  • Who cares about phone hacking?
  • Rupert Murdoch eats humble pie
  • Hackgate scandal spreads to US
  • News Corp pulls plug on BSkyB deal

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