About the only thing we learned at his press conference today is that David Cameron has mastered the art of not answering awkward questions. He dodged several this morning, but in a way that sounded as if he had given answers.
Nick Robinson asked it first. Why didn't George Osborne personally declare to parliament the cash raised for the party in his name? Cameron said the registrar had given him "unclear" advice - but we knew that as he told Marr this yesterday. Nick asked why Cameron had not decided “if in doubt, publish and be damned”. No direct answer. He was later asked why Osborne sought advice about these donations just a few weeks ago – no clear answer. Thus Cameron kept a lid on what is, by comparison with Hain, a trifling matter but embarrassing nonetheless.
Adam Boulton asked about Northern Rock - would the Tories back nationalisation? Cameron acted as if Boulton had asked “please tell us your thoughts on Northern Rock”. His response: it’s a “massive risk for the government and huge expense for the taxpayer”. All he’d say is that his preferred deal is a private sale – no opinion offered on nationalisation, shareholder compensation or anything.
I asked about his intriguing suggestion on Marr yesterday that if the EU treaty was ratified a Tory government would "not be content to rest at that point." So what would it do? Hasn't he thought that far ahead, or does he have a secret plan? I hoped the suggestion of a secret plan would be alarming enough to trigger some candour: no such luck. The idea that a Tory government would take over and the Treaty would be ratified, he said, involved too many hypotheticals.
Of course, if I was advising Cameron, I’d tell him to avoid all the above questions – each of which could have dragged him onto tricky ground. Annoying though it is for us journalists, he is managing to do so with Blair-style ease.