Posts Tagged ‘u-turns’

Cameron caves on Leveson

18/03/2013, 06:58:13 AM

by Atul Hatwal

It was a weekend of fraught Leveson lobbying and negotiation. After a pugnacious performance from the prime minister last Thursday, when he abruptly curtailed the cross-party talks, the reality of his political position has slowly dawned on him.

The votes in parliament weren’t there. Specifically, David Cameron was headed for one of the biggest defeats for a sitting prime minister, on a fully whipped vote, ever.

With a potential pro-Leveson majority of over 40 in prospect, no previous prime minister in the past 90 years, not Gordon Brown, John Major, Jim Callaghan or Harold Wilson, would have suffered such a reverse on a party political issue.

Late Sunday night negotiations were still ongoing but the outline of a weekend deal hammered out by Nick Clegg, mediating between Cameron and Ed Miliband, had emerged.

For David Cameron it will represent an astonishing volte face from his position on Thursday. If the new deal is confirmed this morning, as expected, he will have U-turned on three central points:

  • Statutory underpinning for the royal charter – the charter will be embedded in law. A super-majority in parliament will be required to change its terms, rather than the charter being amendable by the privy council
  • The editors’ veto on membership of the regulator – the editors will no longer be able to block appointments. A majority decision of the appointment panel will be able  to confirm membership of the regulator
  • The editors’ control over the code of conduct – the editors will no longer write the code. It will be drafted by a joint team of editors, journalists and members of the public

David Cameron will ultimately accept 90% of the case made by the victims’ lobby group Hacked Off, as embodied in the Labour and Lib Dem proposals for a royal charter. The one compromise by the pro-Leveson coalition is likely to be to cede the option of exemplary damages against egregiously non-compliant organisations.


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As Huhne divides, Labour must conquer

06/07/2011, 10:06:50 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Stewart Lee describes David Cameron with his arm around Nick Clegg as being akin to “a bloke who has bred a prize pig”. The Liberal Democrats have been slaughtered to ten per cent in opinion polls and Cameron boasts of being “in a position in four years time where we win the general election and govern on our own”.

While Tories love this bullish talk, the plan for the “pigs” fight back is more obvious than that which will deliver Cameron this outcome. The NHS bill has shown what can be expected from the Liberal Democrats. Pick fights with their governing partners – even if this necessitates reneging on past commitments. Extract concessions. And present the outcomes as injecting Lib Dem sanity into the Tory madness.

In 2003, the Tories complained about the Liberal Democrats producing a “disreputable” campaign guide. It advised candidates to “be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly”. The Tories might suspect that Lib Dem ministers have dusted it down. Chris Huhne seems eager to manoeuvre. He has attacked his Conservative colleagues as “rightwing ideologues”. He is, obviously, looking for a “win” on the environment.

Huhne’s constituency was Tory target seat number 12 last year. It is reported that Cameron will “not lift a finger to help” Huhne if he is found to have lied to the police. This disinclination may reflect bad feeling over the AV referendum. Huhne’s spoiling for a policy fight is unlikely to rebuild burning bridges. (more…)

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