Green saga shows government holes

I had lunch last week with Damian Green the day before he was arrested. We discussed his plans for the next few weeks oblivious to what the following days were to hold.

Tara Hamilton-Miller
Tara Hamilton-Miller

How Green, the Government, the opposition and the police reacted to this mess is revealing. The Government had no idea this was going to chime with the feelings the public already had. That is the root of PR and comms – being able to detect where the wave is coming from and ride it.

This whole saga has been significantly helpful to the Tories, who have been impressive at short-term tactics; they launched an all-out attack that has caught the imagination of everyone. They got it right; play to a prejudice that the Government is obsessed with control. The current Tory machine works best under pressure – Andy Coulson and David Cameron particularly thrive under Dunkirk conditions.

They were aided by the fact the police cannot say anything because of the investigation. But the public attitude to London’s Metropolitan Police Service was already tainted after gaffes, Sir Ian Blair and the enormous pay-off to Tarique Ghaffur.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has proved herself to be staunch, unflappable and the sort of woman who could take an interrogation and not break. If Brown wants his own Iron Lady, Mrs Smith is not for turning. Agree with her or not, her continuous appearances stony faced in front of the cameras have shown one staggeringly tough bird.

For Green, his star is rising. Well-liked but often overlooked by journalists, he is not part of the inner Cameron circle, but is now a bit of a people’s hero. The extensive publicity he has received is the political equivalent of winning I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and a brief fling with a member of Girls Aloud.

For Smith, her continual refusal to apologise and failure to understand what went on, never mind when she knew about it, suggests her time left as Home Secretary is short. Sorry really does seem to be the hardest word.

Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team

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