I await with much interest for this afternoon’s announcement about Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, being appointed the Director of Communications for the Conservative Party, whispers which were disclosed on Iain’s blog.
If true, there will naturally be associations made between him and spin doctoring which the public – and hopefully Tories too – are keen to distance themselves from following the Alistair Campbell/Blair era.
We need to establish trust during a time when there is considerable mistrust of politicians and apathy among voters. I would like to know what Coulson’s credentials are for this role, how he can win over public confidence when he is used to working on sleazy stories. The last thing we want to be known as is a tabloid Tory party.
Coulson was the paper’s editor when its royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed earlier this year in a phone-hacking scandal involving Prince William and other celebrities. Coulson escaped unscathed, apparently unaware of these devious activities, but resigned the day the two men were sentenced.
Interestingly, the appointment already has the seal of approval from Matthew d’Ancona, editor of the Spectator magazine, who describes it as a “coup”, saying:
“That’s a real coup for them because Andy’s a very good journalist and highly respected.
“It follows a great deal of speculation that the Conservative party was looking for an Alastair Campbell-type figure.
“As the debate over grammar schools has shown, and also the failed attempt to get Greg Dyke as a candidate for mayor of London, the closer that you get to power and the more that you have pressure applied to you, the more important it is that you have a big figure in charge of communications.”
Despite my reservations, David Cameron is obviously very media savvy and will have thought this through thoroughly. If this decision turns out to be a disaster, the repercussions will be considerable, it could cost us the next election. I think we are in for some very interesting times …..