Goodbye Andy. And good riddance

Some random thoughts on Coulson’s resignation.

1) Where's Jo Moore these days? Remember the good ol' "good day to bury bad news" and 9/11? The problem for the Tories is that the news hasn't been buried – by Blair's return appearance at the Iraq inquiry or by Alan Johnson's resignation as shadow chancellor – and is leading all the bulletins, even on the BBC, which basically ignored the story for as long as it could.

2) That Coulson couldn't spin his own departure in a suitable manner speaks volumes about his skills (or lack thereof) as a top-level spinner.

3) That Cameron decided to back his director of communications so publicly – on Monday morning's Today programme – less than 72 hours before Coulson handed in his resignation speaks volumes about the Prime Minister's political judgement (or lack thereof) and so, too, of course, does his decision to hire Coulson in the first place.

4) It's been a bad 24 hours for the Chancellor, George Osborne. He'll have to raise his departmental game as he's now facing Ed Balls across the despatch box – Labour's most formidable economist (just ask Samuel Brittan of the FT!) and a brilliant political strategist, too. Plus, Boy George is the man who convinced Cameron to hire Coulson in order to (re-)build relations with the Murdoch empire and the right-wing press. Bad move.

5) Vince Cable's "war" against the Murdoch empire may have backfired but hats off to the Guardian's Nick Davies and the Labour MPs Tom Watson and Chris Bryant for leading the charge against the News of the World and the pathetic efforts by the Murdoch and Coulson apologists to shut this story down.

6) The Press Complaints Commission, the CPS and Scotland Yard should all hang their heads in shame and I'm sure they'll have to, at some stage in the near future. This story ain't going away.

7) On the issue of resignations, isn't it fascinating, in this era of leaks, gossip, 24-hour news channels, blogs and tweets, that both Labour and the Tories were able to keep their respective resignations (of Johnson and Coulson) under wraps and leak-proof? Johnson told Ed Mili that he was quitting on Monday; Coulson told Cameron he was standing down on Wednesday.

8) My then colleague James Macintyre predicted that Coulson would be gone within six months . . . four months ago. Semi-prophetic.

9) The political obituaries of Coulson seem to be glossing over his "bullying" of colleagues while editor of the News of the World. If you need a reminder, check out my NS column from September 2010 for the details.

10) Who succeeds Coulson as the Tories' – and the government's – spinner-in-chief? Will Cameron go for a Murdoch empire appointee? Ironically, Ed Miliband did (in the form of the ex-Times hack Tom Baldwin). Is the ex-Sun political editor George Pascoe-Watson the natural replacement? Or will it be the more thoughtful and Cameroonian ex-speechwriter and former Indie deputy editor Ian Birrell? Will the Lib Dems get a say in the appointment? Just kidding . . .

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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14 Labour MPs defy Jeremy Corbyn and vote for Trident

Backbenchers oppose SNP motion backing disarmament while six vote in favour of it. 

In an attempt to exploit Labour's divisions over Trident, the SNP today tabled a motion opposing its renewal. Labour whips instructed MPs to abstain on the grounds that the vote was "a stunt", as John McDonnell told reporters outside last night's PLP meeting.

But in defiance of the leadership, 14 backed the renewal of the nuclear deterrent. Their justification was clear: it remains official party policy to support Trident after annual conference voted not to debate the issue (a point made at the PLP by Ben Bradshaw, Chris Leslie, Jamie Reed and John Woodcock). For them, Labour's credibility depends on it maintaining its backing for the programme. By contrast, six MPs voted against renewal, the cost of which was revealed by yesterday's Defence Review to have risen from £25bn to £31bn. 

The SNP is, unsurprisingly, delighted at having divided Labour. Defence spokesman Brendan O'Hara said: "For Labour, today was a sign of their moral bankruptcy in the Trident debate. Astonishingly for a party that say they want to govern, some of their members abstained, some voted with the SNP and some even voted to support the Tory nuclear folly. Labour’s solitary Scottish MP Ian Murray abstained – despite voicing his opposition to Trident renewal. His leader Jeremy Corbyn also abstained – although he previously supported an identical SNP motion in January this year. This is just the latest evidence that Jeremy Corbyn isn’t changing Labour – Labour is changing him." 

A potentially far greater division lies ahead when parliament votes on renewal. Many Trident supporters abstained today but would not do so on the official decision. With the majority of the shadow cabinet in favour of renewal (unlike their leader), most frontbenchers expect Corbyn to offer a free vote. Andy Burnham, the shadow home secretary, has pledged to resign if the party opposes Trident renewal and others would likely follow. Among the most committed supporters of the deterrent are the deputy leader, Tom Watson, the shadow culture secretary, Michael Dugher, and the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Vernon Coaker. But with Corbyn and his supporters arguing that he has a mandate to oppose renewal, and floating the idea of an online ballot of party members, today's split is but a hint of the divisions to come. 

The 14 Labour MPs who voted in favour of Trident 

Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)

Mary Creagh (Wakefield)

Chris Evans (Islwyn)

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse)

Liz Kendall (Leicester West)

Chris Leslie (Nottingham East)

Madeleine Moon (Bridgend)

Albert Owen (Ynys Mon)

Jamie Reed (Copeland)

Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East)

Angela Smith (Sheffield Hillsborough)

Gisela Stuart (Birmingham Edgbaston)

John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness)

The six Labour MPs who voted against Trident

Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley)

Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Sparkbrook)

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North)

Geoffrey Robinson (Coventry North West)

Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton)

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.