The summer recess can’t come soon enough for Mr Cameron

It’s not often in life, let alone politics, that you get everything you desire. Yet over the past 2 weeks Ed Miliband’s every wish has been both the government and News International’s command. His demands for a full judge-led inquiry along with his call for News International to drop their bid for BSkyB were both caved into fairly quickly and now today, nearly two weeks after Miliband voiced his opinion that she should go, Rebekah Brooks has finally handed in her resignation to News International.

Empty house of commons

Empty seats... might be just what Cameron needs. Photograph: Parliament: TimeOut

Looking back retrospectively it seems almost inconceivable that Mr. Miliband should have taken a different stance on the whole phone-hacking issue but one only needs to look at the way the last Labour government sought to brush the subject under the table to realise that Miliband’s stance was a courageous one to take politically. Indeed it is thought that many within the shadow cabinet urged their leader not to press too hard over the allegations of phone-hacking and specifically warned him against seeking to tie together the cases of News of the World and News International’s bid for BskyB.  And yet, just weeks after he upset many members throughout the party with his refusal to support strike actions by the unions over the issue of public sector pensions, Mr. Miliband showed once again that he is determined to be his own man and lead as he sees fit to do so.

To what extent Ed Miliband was favouring short term political gain over long-term strategy is open to debate, but is perfectly possible right now that he may well be able to claim the best of both worlds at some point further down the line. It no longer seems credible that Rupert Murdoch will hold even a fraction of the influence he used to within British politics and increasingly there is talk of him withdrawing completely from these Isles to focus his attention on other areas of his media empire.  Regardless of whether that scenario plays out though, so successful was Mr. Miliband in leading the condemnation of News International that he forced the government into a corner from which they were left with no option but to back his call for the BskyB bid to be dropped, thus ensuring that what was threatening to turn into a straight fight between the Labour Party and Murdoch turned into a Parliament united in their opposition against the Australian and his takeover bid.

Whatever the future holds for Murdoch and his relationships with Labour Party politicians what is undoubtedly clear is that the past fortnight has, for the first time, seen Ed Miliband wipe the floor with David Cameron on an issue that has had the whole nation watching. A Survation/Progressive polling study released yesterday found that just under twice as many people believe Ed to have handled the whole phone-hacking affair well when compared to Cameron. Those are fairly remarkable figure when one considers that in terms of their personal polling figures, Cameron still outscores Miliband by a considerable margin.

Beyond the figures though what will enliven the Labour party is that for about the first time Miliband has really got to grips with a major national issue and offered the sort of leadership that Mr. Cameron so feebly failed to provide. Miliband has always maintained that he had no desire to engage in publicity stunts as a way of gaining recognition amongst the general public but because of that he there has been a sense that when a big political opportunity arose, he would need to grab it.

Issues surrounding media plurality and regulation of the press may not be the main concerns for the electorate but they have dominated the political landscape over the past two weeks and Miliband has grabbed hold of the agenda and is on a roll. His only regret right now will be that the summer recess is just round the corner. For David Cameron though it is a somewhat different story. The same survation/progressive polling study also revealed that over two-thirds of those surveyed believe the Prime Minister to have either an inappropriate or highly inappropriate relationship with the press and that was before today’s revelations about his continued contact with Andy Coulson. As far as Mr. Cameron is concerned, the summer holidays can’t come soon enough.

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Posted on July 16, 2011, in Comment, Conservative Party, Labour Party, Party Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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