Could the hacking scandal bring down the Cameron Government?

Going by the silly history of the Profumo Affair, it don’t take much to bring down a British Government. And this one has implicated high-ranking Scotland Yard officials. Not anybody in the Cabinet, yet, that I know of – is that what makes the crucial difference?

Well, yes, that’s a big difference. Plus, the real political problem in the Profumo case was not that Profumo had an affair, but that he lied to Parliament about it. For the government to be threated by this scandal, something similar would have to happen.

Finally, the Profumo affair didn’t actually bring down the government. It is seen to have contributed to their losing an election the following year, but in a parliamentary system that doesn’t count as “bringing down the government”.

I don’t entirely understand the British government, but I was a little kid listening to my US parents’ car radio whilst on vacation and, though I was 9 and didn’t understand ANYTHING that I heard, I gathered why the Profumo affair was bad. Later, it took seeing “The Year of Living Dangerously” to realize that, as it seemed at the time, the Indonesian Revolution was a victory for both the opposition and Sukarno. Didn’t make sense at the time.

Words are slippery, but I would say that British governments are relatively stable, for systems without fixed terms. This particular government has an unusual weakness - it is a coalition. Even then, the reasons which led to its formation are relatively robust.

It’s hard to see the NotW scandal incriminating politicians directly - there’s no obvious way a politician would have been involved, other than as a victim. The police corruption aspects are a legacy from the previous administration, so not a direct threat to the coalition. Cameron’s mistake was hiring Coulson when he was aware of some of the allegations. We’ll have to see how that plays out, but it doesn’t seem fatal on it’s own.

The NotW scandal is a big story, but not necessarily a big political story.

The coalition’s main difficulty is a lack of delivery on other policies. NHS reform is being botched. Education reform is slower and less radical than planned. A high risk reform of public sector pensions is underway. Toxic defence issues - no money and wars to fight. Overall, a lack of clear achievement.

As usual, much will depend on the economy. Osborne seems unexpectedly competent, but external influences predominate. If the Euro area and the US destroy their economies then the UK will take collateral damage. It’s not as if the UK economy is starting from a healthy position. I remember being at a meeting last May which the Treasury official chairing opened with the words “we’re skint”.

I think the ramifications could be / are already very signficant, but it won’t bring down the government. They weren’t in power when it happened and whilst Cameron erred with the Coulson hiring it was at least completely out in the open. Compare that to the Met hiring that NotW guy on the QT whilst they’re supposed to be investigating them. The yellow party could start to make a fuss and agitate the coalition but why would they? They’ve got 3 years left before they vanish off the electoral map forever so why bring that deadline forward?

Sandwich is right in that it’s not necessarily a political story that can be pinned on any one party etc, but it should still change the political landscape. It’s more embarrassing for us collectively as UK society that we’ve tolerated an out of control tabloid press for so long, with a servile political class who have been terrified of taking them on. Mix in an apparently corrupt Met police force and there’s no doubt it’s a landmark case.

Indeed, and I think (like everyone) that Cameron is safe. He’d need a backbench revolt by his party to be deposed as leader, or desertion by the LibDems before Labour could bring a successful Vote of No Confidence in the Government (required for the Queen to dissolve parliament and bring a new election). I don’t think there’s much appetite for that from the Cons or LibDems at this point with the economy still so fragile.

Unless, of course, we discover something newly truly juicy like Cameron taking kickbacks from Murdoch or similar from my own personal fantasies.

Is Labour even ready to come back? From this side the pond it appears that they did not lose power for any particular failure or even accumulation of failures, the people just got sick and tired of them. Which will not have changed quite yet, will it?

I tend to disagree, but i’d suggest you’re right the other way around; rather, the Tories (and Lib Dems, technically) got into power this time around not through any particular strengths or new ideas or excellent leadership, but because they weren’t Labour. Hence why they weren’t elected by any grand majority; we didn’t like the current guys, but we didn’t have much faith in a change, either. It was an accumulation of failures and successful but disliked Labour policy that got them out, by and large.

That said, Labour have not as Opposition provided any strengths, new ideas or leadership this time around yet, but I don’t think that they are yet to the point of seeming better than the Tories/Lib Dems, aside from the usual political viewpoints to those who adhere to them. It probably wouldn’t take too much, though - if Labour can look convincingly Governmental again, they’ll probably get in.