Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Coulson

Busy day Friday, and weekends are family time which means no blogging so I haven't had a chance to write anything on the Coulson resignation until now. Personally I was surprised to see that he's offered his resignation and that the PM has (this time if you believe the papers) accepted it.

Why? because Coulson was a vital member of the no 10 team, not as many people think in terms of keeping Steve Hilton and his "crazy" ideas in check but in terms of the dynamic equilibrium that is a vital part of being a modern vote winning political party.

And by dynamic equilibrium I don't mean as David Davis has apparently just pointed out that he was the one from the poor background who could understand poor people as a result. Frankly that's an offensive argument that suggests you can only empathise with people and their issues if you are the same as them. Utter rubbish.

In my mind the dynamic equilibrium at the heart of no 10 was this 1) Steve Hilton came up with the ideas that can get the Conservative Party elected again. By this I mean the ideas that appeal to the floating voters and ex Labour / Lib Dem voters. As most readers will no I really don't believe that a swing to the right would have won us a majority. It was Hilton's detoxification strategy which meant people felt comfortable voting blue again. The problem was not enough of them felt comfortable.

So what's the equilibrium then you say? Well 2) Coulson was the one who knew what would get the media onside and not piss off the traditional voter. Every Hilton strategy from the original Husky trip, back in those early days of Team Cameron, through to the Big Society was and generally is ridiculed by the papers, even if the voters like it. Coulson was there to make sure they were fed traditional red meat Tory fodder, because without that dynamic equilibrium between the two we can't win an election. You can't get the media to take you seriously, you can't mobilise the base and you can't win the floating voters.

The issue at the election wasn't that we needed to go one way or the other more, it's that we didn't get the equilibrium right, and haven't quite got it right since May. Was that Coulson's or Hilton's fault? If they hadn't been fighting (allegedly) would it have been better? Probably not, because every dynamic equilibrium needs both co-operation and competition, without both you've got no equilibrium.

So replacing Coulson will be tough, not because he provided a council estate counter balance to the Eton playground but because he provided that competition and co-operation we need.

A final thought on whether this will damage the PM. Personally I don't think so, the Left are trying to spin this as bad judgement on Cameron's part. This story just won't stick with the public though. They don't care (unless they already hate Tories or News International). They didn't care that Ed Milliband showed spectacularly bad judgement by putting Phil Woolas in his Shadow Cabinet, when remember, there was a pending court case that he subsequently lost and they won't care or remember about this. To date Coulson hasn't even been charged with anything, so really who's showed the worst judgement?

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