Does David Cameron really need this tainted man beside him? | Peter Oborne | Comment is free | The Observer
One of the defining features of contemporary politics is the presence in the leadership entourage of a behind-the-scenes fixer and thug. George W Bush had Karl Rove, Bill Clinton the dreadful Dick Morris. Tony Blair benefited, at various stages of his shining career, from the near permanent availability of Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell.
These doppelgängers play an essential part in the construction of the public identity of a prime minister or president. Most top politicians need, as far as possible, to remain fragrant and project a picture of unsullied virtue. They almost invariably conclude that this can best be achieved if someone else carries out the function of striking background deals, terrorising subordinates and menacing opponents.
Andy Coulson carries out at least some of these duties on behalf of David Cameron. Dapper, bespectacled and highly intelligent, there is no question that Coulson is very good at his job. He took over as Cameron’s spin-doctor in July 2007, just as the Tory leader’s fortunes struck their lowest point. Before Coulson arrived, Cameron was struggling to find a way to combat Gordon Brown. Afterwards, it all seemed quite easy.