Friday, June 04, 2010

House Points: The Daily Telegraph, David Laws... and David Cameron

This week's House Points column from Liberal Democrat News. The argument will be familiar to anyone who has been reading this blog in recent days.

And a belated acknowledgement: last week's mention of the popular comedy duo Abbott and Portillo was inspired an observation from Millennium Elephant.

Telegraph target

This coalition government was always going to come under strain. Because one of the parties has been out of government for a long time and sometimes gives the impression that it is more interested in doctrinal purity than in getting back into power.

That party, of course, is the Conservatives.

It is no coincidence that it was the Daily Telegraph that brought down David Laws. That newspaper is the focus for a group of malcontents who don’t just resent the coalition: they resent all the changes David Cameron has made to drag his party back into the political mainstream.

In their political Lalaland the country is crying out for hard right-wing government – the sort of policies that did so much to bring William Hague and Michael Howard success at the 2001 and 2005 general elections.

And it is no coincidence that David Laws was their victim. Because no minister was more important to the coalition. It was not just that the Conservatives respected him: they were in awe of him, particularly after masterful appearance at the dispatch box.

David Laws offered the Tories the assurance that the Liberal Democrats were signed up for the economic hard yakka, while we were reassured that there was a good Liberal at the Treasury. So forcing him out of the government was a calculated attempt to hobble the government.

If you think “it is no coincidence” is the cry of conspiracy theorists down the ages or that David Laws was the author of his own misfortune, consider what happened next. Danny Alexander was appointed to replace David Laws at the Treasury and was immediately the victim of a front-page Telegraph smear.

It was soon clear there that the story had no basis, but that had not stopped the paper running it. They had the template ready to greet the new Lib Dem appointment: never mind if the facts did not fit it.

This sort of press campaign is unpleasant for the Liberal Democrats and damaging for the country, in that it has brought down an unusually able minister. But it is David Cameron who should be worried and who should take action. Because ultimately it is he the Daily Telegraph is after, not us.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I believe that the Daily Toriegraph is a right wing rag not worth the paper it is printed on and that only the nasty people of this country read it I must say that I would not wipe my backside with it .The so called paper is hell bent on destroying this governing coilition and in doing so bring about distrust and fear.