James Forsyth James Forsyth

How Cameron can regain some initiative

The phone hacking scandal has now been leading the news for a fortnight straight. When a story has been on the front pages for this long, it develops its own momentum. If we were on day two of the story, I very much doubt that Sir Paul Stephenson would have resigned as quickly as he did or if David Cameron would have agreed so readily to extending the parliamentary session.

Cameron is now out of the country, allowing Ed Miliband to stay on the front foot. The danger for Cameron is that Miliband constantly appears to be half a step ahead of the PM. Miliband’s line that Cameron is ‘hamstrung’ in this matter by his own actions over Coulson has something to it.

Leaders of the Opposition can move far quicker than incumbents. But the great advantage that the Prime Minister has is that he can actually do things. The one time that Cameron has held his own during this crisis was on Wednesday when he announced the terms of the public inquiry. He needs to come back from Africa on Wednesday and grip the police angle of this scandal, which will only grow over the coming days. He also needs to talk plainly about how both Labour and Tory politicians got too close to News International and how all sides need to learn the lessons of this scandal. 

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