Bad news for Cameron is not automatically good news for Miliband

Cameron's proximity to the phone-hacking scandal is damaging, but Miliband needs to be cautious in h

David Cameron is in for a rough few days. His former director of communications, Andy Coulson, is now accused of paying police for information. Coulson's involvement in phone-hacking resulted in his resignation; his alleged involvement in paying-off policemen, however, may result in prison.

This would be a bad break for any Prime Minister. But it doesn't stop there for Cameron. His flame-haired, horse riding buddy, Rebekah Brooks, is at the forefront of the Milly Dowler scandal.

Cameron has already stuck his neck out for Brooks once. According to Private Eye, Cameron talked Murdoch out of sacking Brooks earlier this year. Murdoch will be kicking himself.

On top of this, Cameron will face intense public pressure to put the kibosh on News Corporation's attempted takeover of BSkyB. If this doesn't go through, then Murdoch will be kicking Cameron.

Oh, and it's PMQs today, where Ed Miliband will no doubt give all the above issues a good airing.

Right now, what is bad for News International, is bad for Cameron. This does not mean, however, that it is all good news for Ed Miliband. Miliband has already called on Brooks to go. If - by some miracle - Brooks survives (and judging by the frantic briefing and counter-briefing that her, Coulson and Will Lewis are involved in, she is certainly trying to), this will be the second time since May that Miliband has called on someone close to Cameron to resign, only for them to turn and flick V's at him and stay exactly where they are.

As recently as two weeks ago, Miliband was happy to chomp on canapés with Brooks and co at the News International summer party. Cameron is up to his neck in News International's cesspit - but Miliband and Labour have certainly had a paddle. Miliband needs to be cautious and smart in his attacks on Cameron, and not look like he sprinting after a passing bandwagon. Cameron's proximity to the phone-hacking scandal has damaged him; Miliband need not lay it on too thick.

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.