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6 July 2011

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

By Duncan Robinson

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.

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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.