James Forsyth

Clegg versus Straw - the re-match

Clegg versus Straw - the re-match
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David Cameron’s father has suffered a stroke on holiday in France and so the PM is, understandably, travelling out there to be with him. This means that Nick Clegg will be standing in for him at PMQs.

At the risk of sounding Jo Mooreish, this shift in PMQs personnel has political implications. Labour was always planning to use today to try and associate Cameron personally with Coulson and the whole voicemail interception story. That, obviously, can’t happen now.

But Labour could ask Nick Clegg a series of awkward questions on this, has the deputy prime minister sought personal assurances from the director of communications about what he knew of phone hacking at the News of the World while he was editor and the like. Defending Coulson will be awkward for Clegg given how little his party likes the whole media culture that Coulson represents.

Having said this, Jack Straw’s previous performance against Clegg was lamentable. The error that Clegg made that day—saying the Iraq war was illegal while speaking from the despatch box—was unforced.