David Cameron too close to Rupert Murdoch, say constituents
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 10 May 2012
David Cameron's own constituents believe he is too close to Rupert Murdoch and his media empire.
A ComRes poll of 500 people in Witney, Oxfordshire, found that 49 per cent agree that the Prime Minister is too close to Mr Murdoch and News Corp, while 35 per cent disagree. The finding suggests that recent revelations could harm his image – even in his home territory.
Mr Cameron is friends with Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief executive due to appear before the Leveson Inquiry tomorrow, and her husband Charlie, who also have a home in the Prime Minister's constituency.
Mr Cameron won a huge 22,740 majority in Witney at the last election. According to ComRes, 54 per cent of his constituents now believe he and his government have not done enough to avoid a double-dip recession, while 40 per cent think they have.
However, by a margin of 2-1, they do not share the opinion of the Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries that Mr Cameron is an "arrogant posh boy". By a similar margin – 61 to 33 per cent – his constituents believe the Prime Minister understands their needs.
By a margin of 53 to 42 per cent, they think Mr Cameron is doing a good job as Prime Minister. Some 45 per cent are disappointed, while 51 per cent are not. People are evenly split over whether the Coalition has the right ideas for the country.
Only 29 per cent of those polled said they would vote Conservative if there were an election now. Although Mr Cameron would still win, a larger proportion (31 per cent) say they would not vote or do not know which party they would support.
When undecideds and non-voters are excluded, the Tories emerge with 46 per cent of the vote (down from 59 per cent at the last election), with Labour on 20 per cent (up from 13 per cent), UKIP on 10 per cent (up from 4 per cent) and the Liberal Democrats on 9 per cent (down from 19 per cent).
Today Mr Cameron's links with the Murdoch empire will be in the spotlight when Andy Coulson, his former communications director who resigned as News of the World editor over the phone hacking scandal, gives evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. Last night Downing Street admitted that it was "entirely probable" Mr Coulson had attended high-level Government meetings on defence and intelligence despite having only been subjected to a low level of security screening.
Yesterday it was revealed that Mr Cameron sent Ms Brooks a text message urging her to "keep her head up" in the week she resigned from News International. Downing Street did not deny a claim in an updated biography of Mr Cameron that he met Ms Brooks at an undeclared point-to-point meeting in Oxfordshire and at a Chipping Norton fair.
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