David Cameron is losing his touch

David Cameron is losing his touch

Reputations are hard to build, and easy to lose.  Between 2005 and 2010, when he became prime minister, David Cameron painstakingly rebuilt his party’s reputation, successfully recapturing the support of a large section of the electorate who had deserted in 1997. He was able to do so, at least in part, because he came across as decent and honest – a man who gave a straight answer to a direct question.

But the furore over his hiring of Andy Coulson has tarnished him. Suddenly Cameron looks slippery. Asked repeatedly if he regrets hiring Coulson, he refused to answer. Asked several times in Parliament if he’d had any meetings to discuss News International’s BSkyB bid, he repeated the same carefully crafted line, “I had no inappropriate meetings”. Cameron used to accuse Gordon Brown of “taking people for fools”. He’s in danger of doing so himself.

Politicians sometimes have good reasons not to answer certain questions. They might, for example, not want to prejudice confidential negotiations, might wish to save a particular announcement for a specific event, or might simply not know the answer. But they should at least have the decency to tell the journalist why they’re not answering, and their reason must be legitimate and credible. Otherwise the politician makes us suspect that the truth, which nearly always comes out in the end anyway, is too embarrassing and damaging to talk about.

Answering difficult questions truthfully can cause short-term hurt. But far better to take that hit than to build a reputation as someone that can’t be trusted.

Article date

July 21st, 2011

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer

@RT_MediaTrainer

My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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