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Thursday, June 14, 2012 

No, he Cam't!

Yo, Blair! Two little words that seemed to express everything that had gone wrong between our last but one prime minister and the US president he had decided to affix himself to. Far from being equals, or even keeping up the pretence where others might hear, here was how the president really addressed his UK counterpart: much like he might his dog. For those who decided this was merely one of Bush's eccentricities, evidence of how you can take the boy out of Texas but not Texas out of the boy, what followed was if anything more humiliating. Offering to go out on a peace tour in an attempt to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hizbullah, he was first rebuffed and then uttered "[B]ecause obviously if she [Condoleezza Rice] goes out, she's got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk." Just talk, not necessarily succeed. Such was Blair's reduced status in 2006.

Six years on, and while the text from Rebekah Brooks to David Cameron sent on the eve of his 2009 conference speech is not quite as succinct, it ought to be just as damning. Having just dumped Labour in the most humiliating fashion possible, here's the former editor of the Sun and newly appointed chief executive of News International saying "professionally, we're in this together", that they should discuss a misunderstanding over a "country supper" and lastly that "yes, he Cam!" give the speech of his life to the Tory conference. Despite no longer being the Sun's editor, the front page of the paper the day after and indeed its leader column used that exact phrase as the headline.

Apart from being toe-curling in the extreme, and away from Rebekah Brooks' transgressing the rules of etiquette (one must never refer to someone as being an Old Etonian, doncha know, hence why glam Sam Cam, daughter of a baronet, always thought Becks was a bit of a prole), it rather explained why Cameron had spent the first few hours of his testimony stressing his emphasis on television news rather than on newspapers. Yes, he explained that politicians of all stripes had gotten far too close to media proprietors and their clingers-on, and the Tories can never remind us enough of Sarah Brown hosting a pyjama party at Chequers that both Brooks and Wendi Deng attended, but you can't quite imagine Gordon Brown exchanging such hideous text messages with Murdoch himself, or indeed Paul Dacre.

Despite this chumminess and talk of professionally "being in this together", there was you must understand absolutely no deal, either overt or covert between the Conservatives and News International. After all, they had only given Andy Coulson gainful employment almost as soon as he had resigned in disgrace for not knowing about his royal editor hacking phones, an appointment that both George Osborne and Cameron admitted they had sought the advice of dear Rebekah on before they made it. No one bothered to independently verify that Coulson was telling the truth when he said he knew nuffink about hacking; why would they? Just as Coulson wasn't hired for his knowledge of politics, although he seemed to be an instinctive Tory, why should they need to worry about past unpleasantness when it was all part of the wooing needed to win back power? It was Coulson, said Cameron, who coined the "hug a hoodie" headline for his speech on understanding and showing more love towards young thugs; that was just the kind of spin doctor he needed.

There was we're informed by multiple sources no smoking gun uncovered during Cameron's evidence, as if there was ever going to be. Dave we're informed went through hours of coaching with lawyers to avoid even the possibility of suggesting that there was something untoward going on; why, he and Sam only met with Brooks and Dave's old mate Charlie every six weeks or so, despite living just down the road from them! Other red herrings also abounded: that Coulson should have received developed vetting is nonsense, and in any case the decision was made by the civil service. Just because every recent director of communications past and since has been developed vetted, including Coulson's deputy, is neither here nor there. Gordon Brown's linking of Conservative policy with support for the BSkyB bid was but an "entirely unjustified and specious conspiracy theory"; just because the Tories promised to freeze the BBC licence fee and abolish Ofcom, one of which they've achieved, and both of which were on James Murdoch's wish list doesn't a plot, understanding or even nods and winks make.

As for Jeremy Hunt, Cameron couldn't remember seeing his memo saying that James Murdoch was furious about Vince Cable holding up the BSkyB bid and that it should be passed through immediately. Anyway, even if he had, then the lawyer on holiday at the time who examined any potential for bias over the phone said that had he known about the memo he still would have said there was no reason why he couldn't act properly in his quasi-judicial role. Which part of he's staying put for now don't you understand?

And besides, no one out there in the real world cares about Leveson. No less a person than Peter Watt, that perpetually wrong contributor to Labour Uncut has said as much. No one gives a toss that the prime minister has had to spend 5 hours looking exceptionally shifty giving evidence under oath at the inquiry he set up, apparently unconcerned at the time that he could be one of the key witnesses. No one thinks that the whole Chipping Norton set stinks, and not just from all the horse shit laying around. Why should anyone spend another second wondering or worrying about collusion at the very top of the establishment between politicians, newspaper editors and police officers? We have to start concentrating on the stuff that really matters to Mr and Mrs Average, and that certainly isn't the old news being served up in front of Lord Brian of Leveson. Privacy? Pah! Deals and skullduggery? Gullyfluff! The prime minister to be and this slightly sinister, slightly strange woman exchanging teeth-achingly sycophantic texts? Nothing to see here. Just forget about it all. It's just froth created by political obsessives and media luvvies who love nothing better than to talk about themselves. That this government's reputation and poll ratings continue to plumb the depths is all about the economy. Nothing more. Really.

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