Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Can Labour weaken Cameron with the hacking trial verdict?

The phone hacking jury will only be about an hour into their continued deliberations when Ed Miliband stands up at Prime Minister’s Questions today, but the Labour leader does seem determined to raise the question of David Cameron’s judgement in hiring Andy Coulson all the same. Harriet Harman did the Labour late shift yesterday on Newsnight in which she pointed out that the Conservative leader ignored warnings about Coulson.

Labour’s thesis is that Cameron hired Coulson in spite of those warnings because he was desperate to get closer to the Murdoch empire. The party is certainly right that Cameron was desperate: the Conservatives were not particularly worth joining in 2007 and so there would not have been an endless queue of former senior tabloid journalists desperate to join the team. Cameron is also a great believer in his gut instinct on people: he believes his convictions about those he meets are right, and he felt a good connection with Coulson. Coulson also had what Cameron needed: not access to the Murdoch empire but an ability to talk to C2 voters, whether or not they were Sun readers. He sharpened up the Conservative brand and was instrumental in saving them from yet another existential crisis.

All politicians need more advice on talking to C2s, and all politicians continue to desire good ties with the Murdoch empire. Why else would Miliband have posed with the Sun front page (and it is fortunate for him that the jury returned its verdicts two weeks after that image was published, rather than last week when people were still very angry about it)?

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