Nicholas Jones - Blog and Archive Website

In the face of an unrelenting flow of fresh accusations about telephone hacking at the News of the World, it was inevitable that Andy Coulson would have to stand down from his job as the Downing Street communications chief. But after nearly four years as the Prime Minister’s right-hand man in managing the news media, Coulson has demonstrated time and again his ability to connect David Cameron to the agenda of the popular press. 

Senior Metropolitan Police officers were not alone in their failure to get to grips with the scale of the student protests against higher tuition fees. David Cameron’s public relations team were similarly at fault for a lamentable performance in presenting the government’s case.

Given the skilful way the Conservatives have used the news media to prepare public opinion for the cutback in child benefit announced at this week’s party conference in Birmingham, it is no wonder that Labour MPs are continuing to gun for David Cameron’s communications chief Andy Coulson. 

Andy Coulson’s crucial role in helping David Cameron win the backing of the Murdoch press is still paying handsome dividends for the coalition government, says Nicholas Jones, author of Campaign 2010: The Making of the Prime Minister.

The answer to my question has to be a resounding ‘No’. In many ways the presentation of the emergence and then early months of the coalition government has been a master class in commanding the news agenda. But there is one very big difference between the combined spin operation of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats when compared with that of New Labour. Where they differ is in the way the coalition has been able to discipline itself, how it has managed to avoid, at least for its first four months in office, the divisive anonymous briefings which from the very start of Tony Blair’s leadership proved so debilitating for the Labour Party and later the Labour government.