by Sanjay Patel
Red-faced, splenetic and in a corner. That’s where David Cameron finds himself after his Commons performance today.
There’s little doubt, this was the angriest David Cameron has been at the despatch box. That nice, mild mannered, likeable chap who hugged a huskie (or something like that) was nowhere to be seen. As ever when rattled, Cameron gave into his emotion, he channelled it. And as so often when a politician indulges in a response riven with emotion, tipped over into parody.
The Tory MPs might have liked what they heard and bayed for more, but it won’t look like that on the news. The lasting image will be of Flashman hurling invective across the floor of the House, sneering at Dennis Skinner to claim his pension.
It might have felt good, even cathartic for Cameron to have a full throated rant. It might be the type of response that carried the day in student debating chambers. But with his government in a hole he struck the opposite of the calm, considered tone needed to defuse the situation and suck the drama out of the moment.
Instead Cameron personified blustering braggadocio. Following such an unrestrained and furious defence of his ailing secretary of state for culture, what happens if Hunt has to go? By doubling down on his original error of backing Hunt unconditionally, David Cameron has increased the impending damage to his reputation.
It was notable that in Flashman’s defiance he didn’t address a single one of the substantive points methodically put by Ed Miliband. A point not lost on the watching media who were emphatic in their verdict.
The tweets from the parliamentary lobby tell a tale of prime minister who is fooling no one. Tim Shipman, from the Daily Mail,
“Miliband accuses Cameron of using the ‘News of the World’ defence – one rogue operative acting alone. It’s about as credible…”
Or Iain Martin of the Telegraph,
“This is really terrible from Cameron. Awful performance, shouting about Charlie Whelan etc.”
Or maybe Patrick O’Flynn from the Express
“Cam sounded a bit petulant to me (again). Speaker has perfect right to ask PM to account for stuff to Commons”
These aren’t the outriders of the liberal left, they are the Mail, the Telegraph and the Express, they should be Cameron’s media base. Their scepticism speaks volumes about the ever diminishing chances of Jeremy Hunt’s political survival, the prime minister’s performance and most importantly, his cracked judgement.
Sanjay Patel is a social media consultant and Labour party activist