Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 35%, LAB 43%, LDEM 11%. It looks as though the bigger Labour leads of up to 8 points that YouGov have shown since the phone hacking scandal hit its peak haven’t quite faded away yet after all.


481 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 35%, LAB 43%, LDEM 11%”

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  1. RE: Clegg and Hackgate

    He’s actually been very vocal in interviews but couldn’t in the Commons. He doesn’t get the chance to speak as Deputy PM and leader of the Lib Dems when the PM is at the despatch box. That’s just the rules in a coalition.

    However he has been very anti murdoch and the Lib Dems have totally clean hands on this and deserve to reap dividends from not being associated with the Murdoch empire.

    It’s early days as well remember and Clegg may have a few cards up his sleeve. I’m sure he’s itching to get Cameron back for his betrayal over the referendum terms.

    Separate to this tho, it is time for proper plurality – and for the same rules to apply to papers as apply to b’casters at election times…i.e proper fair, accurate and balanced reporting with all parties getting their unmanipulated say. If we don’t change these rules then our elections will continue to be influenced by the left or right establishment not least because the b’casters will continue to use and parrot the newspaper lines in bulletins and those increasingly pointless and never critical ‘reviews of the papers’.

  2. But yes Clegg’s face in the Commons said it all…looked like a long 3 hours…i wonder how many times he managed to count all the windows in the HofC roof..lol. He was definately annoyed to be sat there

  3. Back to polling –

    I had hoped that someone would have explained to me why my calculations above on the discrepancy between the YG panel and the actual GB votes was either wrong, or explained why those numbers don’t matter – or both.

  4. @ John B Dick

    “If you are a Scottish Labour politican, your aim is to go to Westminster, where the centre of power in the party and is and the big money and netwoorking. The last parliament had a speaker, PM, Chancellor and two LibDem leaders.

    As a back bencher you are just lobby fodder, hoping for preferment in the tradition of centuries, but your postbag is empty because most of the things people write to their MP’s about is devolved. There are several good cheap bars.

    There are two kinds of MSP. The constituency MSP has most of the workload that the English MP has. For most of that is only necessary to refer the constituent to some other agency. If you can get a reputation for competence and effectiveness, even if your party is out of office, you may survive and even if your party throws you out for beng an irritant, whatever your politics, you may well be secure and it may even help to be expelled if you also have a reputation for integrity.

    In fact, if you are exceptionally good at your job, whether as a backbencher or a minister, with a reputation for integrity and competence, are involved in local issues and keep your constituents aware of what you are doing, you will get your reward at the polls, again and again until you slacken off no matter how unpopular your party, but you have to get the chance to show what you can do first.

    It’s easiier to get re-elected than elected.

    List MSP’s have no constituency workload. If you are a minister, that’s welcome. Mostly they have some particular interest they focus on. In the last parliament, one of the Highland Region MSP’s focused on road and rail safety. Now he has a constituency, and the rest of us in Highland Region are the worse off for that.

    The Scottish parliament is unicameral. One of Donald Dewar’s aims was to “give backbench MSP’s a proper job”. In pre-legislative scrutiny the committees do indeed have a proper job where there is little point in grandstanding and playing party games, but we get better legislation, especially where they take advice, and of course some members have a knowledge of medicine or farming or the like.

    I have seen them question industry representatives and academics by the half dozen and by the time they have done that they know a lot about an issue such as bluetongue or C.diff.

    If you want to change things for the better, then you will get much more job satisfaction in a parliament designed for the 20thC than with the arcane rituals of Westminster.

    Backbenchers bills can succeed, and bills do not automatically fail at the end of a session, nor are they routinely talked out to avoid taking any action, so you can pursue your own initiatves or local concerns. You are also much closer to ministers, their staff and the civil service to get quick answers.

    My argument with Donald Dewar was that only a masochist or a numpty would aspire to be a part of the Westminster parliament.

    His answer was

    1 It’s not as bad as you say.
    2 There are historical reasons why it is so.
    3 There are a number of possible solutions
    4 …AND A HOME RULE PARLIAMENT WOULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY TO TRY OUT ONE OR MORE OF THEM.

    I now see that the last may well have been the main objective, not the better governance of Scotland.

    I was wrong (then) about the merits of devolution, but surely DD was wrong about (1) and it hasn’t got any better in half a century.

    Westminster hasn’t followed Donald’s plan and I’m ready now to vote for independence.

    I told AS when I met him last year at a cabinet roadshow, that the SNP is missing the best argument for independence: we get rid of the failed, scelerotic, corrupt, and out of date parliament and get one fit for purpose organised on the four Founding Principles.”

    Thanks for the post John. I will once again state my extreme distaste for your list system as it is extraordinarily undemocratic.

    You guys (as Brits) have the oldest Parliament in the world and have stood up against the forces of totalitarians in favor of principles of human rights and self-governance against all the odds. Of course, Westminster around the time of the 1200’s is very different than it is today and those rights and self-government has dramatically expanded over a long period of time. Therefore, I don’t think you can fault anyone for wanting to serve in Westminster.

    Also, even though the empire is no more (except for some tidbits), you’re still one of the most powerful nations on the globe, economically and militarily. So I don’t think you can fault those who aspire to lead your great nation. Even if they’re Scots. How can you fault Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander for wanting to aspire to positions of great leadership. I certainly couldn’t.

    Even with flaws and arcane problems of Westminster, I think that the solution is to fix those problems, not leave altogether. What you suggest reminds me of a line by Krusty the Clown “My house is dirty, go buy me a new one.”

  5. @ John B Dick

    “In fact, if you are exceptionally good at your job, whether as a backbencher or a minister, with a reputation for integrity and competence, are involved in local issues and keep your constituents aware of what you are doing, you will get your reward at the polls, again and again until you slacken off no matter how unpopular your party, but you have to get the chance to show what you can do first.

    It’s easiier to get re-elected than elected.”

    That’s how it is here.

  6. Okay so I’m curious to get your opinion:

    If a politician plays a character on tv who serves in the position of an office he’s likely seeking, is it somewhat cool or is it tempting fate/arrogant? I can’t decide.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/21/us/21mayor.html?_r=1

  7. @ rOBIN

    “For those of you who are still dismissing this, let’s stop and think.

    Coulson’s deputy was given a higher level of vetting than Coulson himself.

    Repeat that to yourself until the penny drops.

    Under what possible circumstances could that *ever* be appropriate?”

    Yeah, I think that does seem kinda odd. If true, it reflects some naivety/clubbiness on Cameron’s part.

    @ Crossbat11

    “We now move on. Cameron’s image tarnished, Miliband’s enhanced, an opposition reinvigorated, Government benches downcast and coalition partners finding their feet getting ever colder. Hackgate is a slow-burner in political terms but the kaleidoscope has shifted and our political world looks markedly different as a result.

    Miliband can afford himself a smile as he packs his suitcase and disappears on his summer holidays! A partisan and biased comment, I know, but I think he’s deserved his little piece of luck.”

    Your political world has shifted though I’m not sure it’s as seismic as thought. I’m not sure if you give Prime Ministers honeymoon periods but I’d say that if you do, Cameron’s is certainly over.

    I don’t think Cameron will fall because of this but his image has taken a hit. I think the deal with him is that he has, until now, come off as a very effective leader. Like an experienced corporate CEO who’s able to delegate authority properly to cabinet secretaries and manage things effectively. But with the Coulson scandal, he looks a lot more naive and ineffective and in some cases, out of his depth.

    Miliband, by contrast, has come across like a dorky teenager (minus the acne) who can’t be taken seriously. But in the past few weeks, he’s handled himself well enough in the scandal and looked far more statesmanlike than he has before (see, e.g., leading the anarchist march).

  8. @Old Nat
    “I had hoped that someone would have explained to me why my calculations above on the discrepancy between the YG panel and the actual GB votes was either wrong, or explained why those numbers don’t matter – or both.”

    The discrepancy is a tad smaller than that you have identified, as the dont knows and don’t votes have to be eliminated from the panel before calculating the vote shares. But I agree, it’s a discrepancy that deserves an explanation.

  9. Somebody must have put Coulson forward for vetting and decided the level (the “sponsor”).

    The sponsor should have looked at the job Coulson woul be doing and decided what level of clearance he required.

    Why did he/she decide that SC was appropriate? And why does the successor need DV?

    Has the job description changed? Or was the original decision wrong? Or are they now being ultra cautious?

  10. Interesting piece in the Independant stating that both Gordon brown and Tony Blair have refused to release details of their meeting with NI during their period in office and that Ed M is not prepared to ask them. As I posted two weeks ago there is trouble ahead for labour and this an early sign that Labour have some serious questions to answer.

  11. the other howard

    I daresay that the Inquiry will want some details of meetings in the previous Governments. So we’ll find out in due course.

    Could certainly embarrass Blair and/or Brown.

    [Snip debating point – AW]

  12. As I understand Developed Vetting research is undertaken into the person’s history and notes made about anything which could give rise to concerns about the peron’s suitability for the post in question.

    In the case of AC it is quite obvious that the allegations of involvement with criminal acts and convicted criminals would have to be recorded and take account of in the decision.

    It is inconceivable IMO that AC would have passed this level of scrutiny.

    It is extraordinary that a lower level of security checking was applied to AC.

    Who would have the authority to sanction this?

  13. Sir Gus needs to come clean and confirm it was all above board.

  14. “Am I right in thinking that Labour’s VI rating of 44% in tonight’s YouGov’s poll is their highest in any opinion poll conducted since the May 2010 General Election?”
    45 is their highest figure.
    They have achieved this 5 times. Or 1.8% of polls.
    44 has been achieved 20 times. 7.27% of polls.
    And the average Labour score has been 40.2.

    I find it also suspicious that the Tory line has once again become ‘people don’t care about ‘hackgate’ and it ‘hasn’t had any effect on polls’ –
    Before hackgate, Labour were polling (weighted average of past 7 days) around 42, this was a fall on where they were a week previously (42.4).
    The Tories were falling already, but only from 37 to 36.5.

    Hackgate has accelerated the Tory drop and stabilised it at around 36. Labour have stabilised at around 43.
    So a stable 42 to stable 43 and a falling 37/36.5 to a stable 36.
    So +2 points to the Labour lead.

    It has also massively improved Ed Miliband’s approval and IIRC (from what other posters have posted) improved Labour on secondary issues.

    So the ‘no effect’ seems to be wishful thinking. The ‘it was only the hackgate story’ is also wishful thinking.
    But it has accelerated the Tory decline and improve Miliband’s approval, so there has been an effect.

    “Interesting piece in the Independant stating that both Gordon brown and Tony Blair have refused to release details of their meeting with NI during their period in office and that Ed M is not prepared to ask them. As I posted two weeks ago there is trouble ahead for labour and this an early sign that Labour have some serious questions to answer.”
    Only speculation – but perhaps Ed Miliband is trying to ‘clear house’ so he can put his own team together without having to deal with the internal politics of the old Blairites/Brownites.

  15. The question for Cameron is, ‘Did you not find it suspicious that Coulson was not given full security clearance but his deputy was?’
    This whole situation is damaging for Cameron even if he didn’t know, for the same reason it’s damaging to the Murdochs.
    If everybody knew about the suspicions over Coulson (‘Don’t tell the PM’, to Yates) and Cameron was kept in the dark, it will paint a picture of incompetence and a government being run by other people, with Cameron as a figurehead.

  16. There is another remote possibility that Coulson “failed” DV and the verdict was that he had to be kept away from sensitive or secret material.

    Don’t know if that is even feasible. But it would probably be bad news for Cameron.

    It seems more likely he was never put forward for DV.

  17. @Nick Poole

    Sir Gus is sounding increasingly like Sir Humphrey.

    I expect a gnomic statement about this sort of thing being a decision for ministers.

    @TingedFringe

    Its clear that EM want to take advantage of the break with the previous Labour Government. At lEast he has the advantage of being new to the game and can go with the ‘I didn’t do it’ line. I doubt he will see damage to Tony or Gordon as damaging to himself…

  18. I am going to suggest that there is evidently a breach of security at the office of the PM.

    I note that it is reported that a junior colleague of AC was subject to DV, yet AC his/her senior was subject to a lower level.

    I recall posting this yesterday:
    ““This is how the form defines who should be subject to “developed vetting”, the more serious level of checks to which Andy Coulson was not subject:

    ‘Individuals employed on government work who have long term, frequent and uncontrolled access to TOP SECRET information or assets will be submitted to the level of vetting clearance known as Developed Vetting (DV). This level of clearance may also be applied to people who are in a position directly or indirectly to cause the same degree of damage as such individuals and in order to satisfy requirements for access to material originating from other countries and international organisations.’

    The key words are:

    “This level of clearance may also be applied to people who are in a position directly or indirectly to cause the same degree of damage as such individuals…”

    One might try and argue that it says “may” and not “shall”, but IMO this would be preposterous. As someone recently commented: “semantics”.

  19. ASHLEY

    ” it is time for proper plurality – and for the same rules to apply to papers as apply to b’casters at election times…i.e proper fair, accurate and balanced reporting with all parties getting their unmanipulated say.”

    ie the Kinnock proposal.

    God forbid-it would be the ruination of our written Press……………and how the hell do you intend to enforce “balance” on the internet?

    What we need is plurality of ownership,diversity of views & opinions, determined investigative journalism -and consumer choice.

    Then leave it to the readers to decide what they want to read.

  20. @ THE OTHER HOWARD

    ” Gordon brown and Tony Blair have refused to release details of their meeting with NI during their period in office and that Ed M is not prepared to ask them”

    :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

  21. Socal Liberal/Robin

    ‘Coulson’s deputy was given a higher level of vetting than Coulson himself. Repeat that to yourself until the penny drops. Under what possible circumstances could that *ever* be appropriate?”’

    This is absolutely critical to ‘Information Security’, and followed to the letter by Govt Departments, in keeping with their own code over use of govt networks and with the more general industry practice ‘ISO/IEC 17799’

    Access should never be based on an hierarchic basis but on one of ‘Need to know’ and ‘business need’. You are only given access rights which you need to do your job. By restriciting access in this way you protect the confidentiality, integrity and accessibility of information as required by govt strict standards.

    As example of govt/public sector areas that should be following this business need principle:

    In say the NHS where nurses treating you and the doctor and consultant responsible for you, along with say the pharmacist will have access to all your patient records as they need this to do their work, but the senior nurse, and other senior management, upto the Trust Chairman will not be given access to your records unless they too are directly involved in treating you. One of my jobs was to check that this rule was correctly applied.

    In a Finance Department, the Payroll Accountant needs access to all your payroll and much of your personal information to process your pay, but the Director of Finance does not. The Director of Finance security level on payroll should be lower than the payroll accountant’s.

    In IT, the Operations manager, responsible for security of IT processors in the server room, will restrict access to the room to those who require access to do their work, and therefore he and his staff, often quite junior will have access, to the room, but the more senior IT staff, the Head of IT, his boss, say the Director of systems and planning, will not.

    The IT technical manager has access to utilities which enable him and his staff to manage files and data. The IT Manager, his boss and the IT Manager’s boss will have lower security rights on this than the Technical Manager’s most junior staff.

    If hierachic access was followed and Govt policy ignored In the most sensitive areas of govt, the Head of MI5, would have access to everything that every single member of his/her staff have all the time. This is not the case.

    If there was a need for the Head of MI5 to have access to any information, say to check on some irregularity, then the business need changes and for that area the Head of MI5 would be given the access to undertake the reivew, which would then be removed.

    So if the Head of MI5 turned out to be a crook, although embarrassing, it would not mean that every secret, including secret agent’s identity was sold or made public. It is not just security policy but also common sense.

    In no way does the above mean that AC is (or is not) guilty of hacking, or that DC, GB and TB are themselves not culpable in some way, but it is wrong to suggest that non-hierachic allocation of security levels is anything but the correct implementation of a sound security regime.

    I am really surpised that the actual access level that AC his staff or anyone else had, is in the public arena as usually this is considered highly sensitive information that should not be released to protect the confidentiality, accessibility and integrity of data. This in itself would be considered a serious breach of security by a security specialist or computer auditor.

  22. The real question is, was the level of vetting for Coulson the same as for his predecessor and successor?

    If not, why not?

    Was his job different?

  23. @Robin (& others) – “Coulson’s deputy was given a higher level of vetting than Coulson himself.”

    I think @Martin W is correct – Coulson’s then deputy in only now being given the higher security clearance, but it sounds like she didn’t have it when Coulson was in No 10.

    People seem to have missed my earlier post on this. The reasons given by No 10 for this increase in press officer security clearance were concerns over £500 costs of the higher level vetting and increased security concerns following the Libyan conflict.

    The first excuse is laughable, while the second is weird. I’m still trying to figure out why a limited air intervention in Libya requires greater security levels than a full on war in Afghanistan which we have been fighting for 10 years. Perhaps one of the right leaning posters here can suggest some logical explanation for this?

    @Colin – re Blair/Brown and NI. I have absolutely no doubt that there are sigificant embarrassments in there somewhere for New Labour. I have often criticised them for their attitudes to press barons.

    However, what they did is now history, and unless Ed Milliband has dirty secrets to hide then the ipact on the current Labour party is not likely to be great – Milliband can just disown it and use this to prove he is new and different – it might even help him.

    There is always @Amberstar’s point as well. Attacking New Labour for these things is an implied agreement that Cameron has also done wrong, and as he is the man currently in No 10 that becomes the issue.

  24. Nick Poole

    I think it’s possible that Coulson’s Role was written specifically for Coulson and his successor will be more of a traditional role.

    One possibility that occurred to me is that Coulson was in the middle of DV when he resigned. With a complicated history, it could well take more than 6 months to complete. Once it occurred to me it fits the facts fairly well.

    DV clearance would only have been applied for once Cameron entered No. 10. In this case Coulson could have done the job he was doing with only SC clearance and been kept away from anything he wasn’t cleared for. As I understand it this means that any meetings with Coulson present would be briefed each and every time that this meeting was only to go as far as his SC clearance and if it needed to go further Coulson would leave the room. It’s an issue that can be “worked around” allowing someone to perform a limited role whilst waiting for full clearance.

    Coulson had been vetted and cleared to a reasonable level, without which he wouldn’t even be able to set foot in No. 10 without an escort.

    Any suggestion that No 10 broke security protocols is pretty far fetched.

  25. @Tinged Fringe – >Tory line… ‘people don’t care about ‘hackgate’ and it ‘hasn’t had any effect on polls’<

    Also 'Labour's fault' (it all happened when they were in power), and 'Labour's mess' (Brown/Blair cosying, Campbell/McBride/Baldwin). This failure to address the problem contributes to an impression of willful blindness over Coulson and the relationship with NI.

    Fourteen months of the mess/blame Labour routine may have affected 'trust on economy' questions (to date at least), but more broadly it has been ineffective – Labour's VI has increased by up to 14% since the GE with Tory support declining by a percentage point or two.

    Thanks again for your statistical updates.

  26. Henry

    Let’s be civil?

    Your comments on security are useful but I suggest are in part misleading.

    To take the example of a payroll accountant/manager. It would be unusual for such a person to have a lower level (type) of access to payroll records/data than say his/her junior colleague. The type (you may prefer ‘level’) of access eg data enquiry/updating, may be different but everything that the junior does is visible to and accessible (audit trail) by the higher level person. In some cases, the senior person will have the same or even higher type (level) of access.

    They may of course be physical restrictions on parts of buildings that a person can access.

    I am not fully aware of the set up at No 10 (perhaps you are?) but it is IMO inconceivable that AC did not have the same access to those parst that his junior colleagues in his section did/does.

  27. Oldnat – there are don’t remembers, didn’t votes and too youngs in there, so it should not be a percentage of the whole sample. That aside, YouGov weight by party ID not past vote – these are correlated, but not identical, so while the party ID of every YouGov sample will be the same, the past vote will vary from poll to poll (I think Phil who posts here keeps track of the variation!).

    The gap between Lab & Con will on average be slightly lower than what happened in real life due to assumptions about the level of false recall (what’s happened to false recall since the election is a whole different question, and is downright odd – many pollsters seem to be working on the implied assumption that it has ceased to be – but that’s something that needs a chunky post in its own right).

  28. Alan

    Sounds good. But if so why the nonsense about not being able to afford £500 or it only becoming necessary after Libya?

    I don’t think there will be much wider interest in this, it is all a bit esoteric, but it might be difficult to explain away.

    As Amberstar said, when asked why he let Coulson into Government, Cameron said he had been subject to the usual vetting. It appears that might not be so.

  29. Alan
    I think your suggestion is plausible.

    But can you offer an explanation as to why AC’s former colleague has been moved up to the DV level after AC’s departure?

    Further, it should be straightforward for no 10 to provide all the relevant information surrounding the level of security that applied to AC and that which currently applies to his successor. I do not see how there can be any problem with releasing this.

    And of course is there any evidence that AC was permitted to access information or attend meetings etc beyond the level of security he was given?

  30. I am sure the review led by Judge Leveson will look into the employment of former media employees in government and the Police. No doubt Cameron and relevant civil servants from no.10 will be questioned about issues such as security clearance. For those that are interested in this, perhaps they should write to Judge Leveson with their concerns.

    I think it is relevant to the judge led enquiry, as although it does not directly relate to phone hacking or Police corruption, there is public concern about cozy relationships between media and government/Police. Of course the enquiry won’t just look back one year, but probably the last ten years, so Labour politicians and their advisors would also be part of this.

  31. Nick Poole / Mike N

    1. I’m pretty sure DV clearance costs a lot more than £500. I have no idea where this number comes from but I can’t see it being accurate.

    2. I have no idea about when his successor would have had DV clearance. Had through his previous position, or applied for on assuming the role after Coulson? Like Coulson, if he had SC clearance waiting on DV clearance he could do a limited role.

    3. Any suggestion that everyone broke security protocols because “It’s alright, it’s Coulson” is frankly ridiculous. If he didn’t have clearance he didn’t have access.

    It’s also possible Cameron will simply let Labour chase their tails over the summer break over this pretty minor point if they want to keep chasing it.

    If Cameron can be seen to be moving onto topics like the economy and let the inquiry do its job, whilst Labour try to chase down every minor point he could make ground while Labour are distracted.

    I suspect it’s not normal practice to make public someones job description and clearance levels and justification for them. (In many cases to reduce this to an unclassified level would result in something very generic and meaningless. “He did stuff”).

  32. Mike N

    ‘Let’s be civil? Your comments on security are useful but I suggest are in part misleading’

    I am glad you found my comments useful; this was the intention. I am a little disappointed you felt partly misled.

    It is my area of expertise which I wanted to share. I had hoped to be informative by referring to International standards, applied to Govt security, which hopefully those interested in security vetting and access will choose to read.

    The question asked was
    ‘Coulson’s deputy was given a higher level of vetting than Coulson …. Under what possible circumstances could that *ever* be appropriate?”’

    My answer was ‘there are circumstances’;

    If the question had been ‘Was the level of vetting for either Coulson or his deputy correct in this instance?’ I would not have responded as I do not know and I suspect only a security officer in Govt could say;

  33. Alan

    “If he didn’t have clearance he didn’t have access.”

    I sincerely hope this is true.

    “It’s also possible Cameron will simply let Labour chase their tails over the summer break over this pretty minor point if they want to keep chasing it.”

    I think it’s the Guardian and some Lab MPs who will pursue this. Whether it turns out to be minor remains to be seen.

    …………………………………..
    The point I suggest is that if the role requires DV clearance (which seems to be the case) this demands scrutiny of the person’s background with the allegations of connections with criminal activity and criminals having to be taken into accoun in the decision to appoint. It is evident that DC was informed of such relevant concerns about AC at or before his appointment. Accordingly, one can say AC was not suitable for the role to which he was appointed as he would (likely) fail the DV checks.

    The information supplied to DC about AC should IMO have been taken on board and AC not appointed to the role at no 10.

  34. Henry
    Thank you.

  35. Alan,

    ‘ If he didn’t have clearance he didn’t have access … and I suspect it’s not normal practice to make public someones job description and clearance levels and justification for them.’

    I think it would be hard for anyone to disagree with that, but I could be wrong.

  36. Mike N

    ‘Alan
    “If he didn’t have clearance he didn’t have access.”

    I sincerely hope this is true.’

    A good point and perhaps the words ‘if the security officers were doing their job properly…’

    I hope they are!

  37. They’ve already made public Coulson’s level of clearance. We’ve had one example already where he might have been present for discussion where a higher level appears to be needed.

    But in the end, the arbiter is Sir Gus (I think).

  38. “I suspect it’s not normal practice to make public someones job description and clearance levels and justification for them”

    I have insufficient knowledge of this where national security issues are involved, but in principle I see no prevailing reason why this information could not be provided under FOI.

  39. Henry

    Great post-thank you.

    Alec

    “However, what they did is now history, and unless Ed Milliband has dirty secrets to hide then the ipact on the current Labour party is not likely to be great ”

    But “history” is what this whole furore is about.
    One anticipates Judge Leveson being knee deep in “history” before he is through.

    I like your phrase ” the current Labour party” -a very useful concept for any political party I think :-)

  40. Mike N

    In terms of political judgement I think that Cameron comments on regret, support your point.

    In terms of security, if there was any risk to security then it is upto to the civil service security vetting process to identify. So if he was a risk then there may be a problem with the civil service vetting process.

    I don’t think the PM could have overuled the vetting process, or would have seen it in his interest to do so . But I could be wrong. I am sure such abuse of national security would be picked up by the judical review should this have occurred.

  41. Apparently the suggestion is that Coulson was briefed on secret information on a need to know basis and was not given access to any higher level material without supervision.

    If this is true this does beg the question as to why Cameron and senior civil servants were not prepared to provide Coulson with higher level clearance. The previous allegations about his previous employment with NI must have played apart in this. If Cameron was warned about this by Sir Gus O’Donnel or other senior civil servants, then Camerons level of judgement is in severe doubt. It is bad enough ignoring Clegg, but if he was given advice by the most senior civil servant and ignored it, that would be pretty serious.

  42. Mike N
    ‘I have insufficient knowledge of this where national security issues are involved, but in principle I see no prevailing reason why this information could not be provided under FOI’.

    I am hesitant about disagreeing with you, but I think you will find that FOI is not allowed to override national security, or for that matter Data Protection.

    But if I am wrong please let me know.

  43. @Colin – “But “history” is what this whole furore is about.”

    Not really. The debate is largely about the level of transparency that is available from the current occupant of No 10. There are a series of very simple questions where straightforward answers could be given. These include;

    1) What discussions relating to Bskyb bid did Cameron have with NI executives between May 2010 and now
    2) Were those minuted
    3) Who else was present
    4) When was it decided that Downing Street press officers needed an enhanced level of security clearance
    5) Why is the Libyan conflict seen as a greater security issue than the war in Afghanistan, in terms of press officer security clearance
    6) Which company conducted the vetting of Coulson

    With nothing to hide, these questions should be answered honestly, openly and with good grace.

    The issues are not about history – they are about the before right now of the Prime Minister.

    Re ‘the current Labour Party’ concept – I’m not trying to provide a route for Labour to slide away from responsibility, but I do think it is valid to point out that once a party leader is changed there is a de facto opportunity to break with the past and claim that things are different. Whether or not this is actually true isn’t really the point.

  44. Can anyone explain ‘who’ the employer of AC was in his role at no 10? Was it the Crown?

  45. @Alan
    “One possibility that occurred to me is that Coulson was in the middle of DV when he resigned.”

    If Coulson resigned in the middle of DV, it is highly likely that he thought he would not pass it. Shouldn’t that have rung alarm bells with Cameron and he should not have invited him to Chequers in March this year.

  46. Henry

    It seems implausible to me that the clearnce level is determined by who the individual is rather than by his/her role.

    Accordingly the divulging of information relating to the role I suggest should not conflict with data protection requirements.

  47. Martin W, Nick P & BAZSC

    It would be all too credible if the PM insisted that his “friend” get instant, cheap clearance because he is needed right away. Maybe his level of clearance can be raised later if it is necessary, when there is time but a new government can’t do without someone in this role. Newly appointed ministers don’t have the time to do it so he “must” be cleared right away.

    He was part of the team when in opposition and when they all changed from the bowling side to the batting side nobody carried out security clearance on DC did they?

  48. That’s a good point, Mike N

    cameron can have whoever he wants as comms director in opposition (hence the silliness of his retort to Milliband about his press man), but a special adviser to the Government has to have the appropriate level of cleareance.

    The sponsor decides based upon what access he needs what level to apply for. The sponsor is held responsible for that decision.

    Who was the sponsor? Why did he not go for DV? You could say they have already answered the second question: £500 was expensive and before Libya we didn’t think there was a security issue.

    I don’t think that answer stacks up, even for a second.

  49. John B Dick

    “It would be all too credible if the PM insisted that his “friend” get instant, cheap clearance because he is needed right away.”

    And there we have it!

    If the role requires DV clearance (and this seems to be the case) AC should not have been appointed to the role because of the serious allegations and concerns that were brought to DC’s attention.

    “…when they all changed from the bowling side to the batting side nobody carried out security clearance on DC did they?”

    One assumes that such checks were already conducted in the case of DC. I doubt he would have been leader of the Cons or invited by HMQ to be PM otherwise.

  50. I may be niave on these matters, but I personally would not want a press secretary cleared to the level he could see he the most secret of documents including issues of National security. When I saw posted that Alistair Campbell had such clearance some of the unexplained issues surrounding the famous “dodgy dossier” have become clearer in my mind. Stikes me the prime Ministers office was very sensible.

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