Peter Hoskin

Why Coulson’s departure matters

Why Coulson's departure matters
Text settings

Courtesy of the ConHome tag team of Paul Goodman and Tim Montgomerie, two articles that are worth adding to your Saturday reading list. Both capture why Andy Coulson's resignation matters, if not to the general swell of British politics, at least to internal operations in Coalitionville.

The wider argument of Paul's article for the Guardian is captured by its headline: "Andy Couslon had a nose for the view of the aspirational voter." But it also homes in on the point that Coulson's departure tilts No.10 in favour of Steve Hilton – something that, rightly or wrongly, will bother the Tory right far more than it does Lib Dems of any persuasion. The obvious question is whether David Cameron will choose to correct than tilt, or maintain it.

Tim's article over at ConservativeHome is more prescriptive. The process of choosing Coulson's successor, he says, is the perfect opportunity for the government to reassess how it does communications – and he proceeds to make four recommendations to that end. All are insightful, but I'd say the first is the most pertinent:

"Address communications weakness (1): a lack of mission clarity. So far, the government is only associated with one thing – cuts. Only one policy – welfare reform – is really popular according to internal polling. Public opinion wasn't softened up for tuition fees. Observing the bubbling NHS row it doesn't seem that lessons have been learnt. 10 Downing Street needs a communications unit that has three or four big goals and works each and every day to achieve those goals – using beautiful images in the broadcast media, working with newspaper commentators, running internet-based campaigns and building relationships with the fifty most important third party actors in the subject area. Is a journalist, whose professional horizon is never much longer than 24 hours, the right person to deliver this communications strategy? Possibly but probably not."