He toughed that one out – can he do the same this time?
The apparently audacious Cameron’s response to the Andy Coulson affair that he “believes in giving people second chances” brings back a painful betting memory for me – the time in October 2005 I underestimated the then Tory leadership challenger’s resolve and lost Â£470.
I’d got a spread bet on before the Blackpool conference that he’d win the leadership but then cashed it in for a small profit when everybody was asking about Cameron’s personal experience of illegal drugs with suggestions that he had in fact taken cocaine in his youth.
I could not believe that he could sustain his approach of denying that there’d been anything untoward since embarking on his political career but refusing point blank in interview after interview to discuss anything about what might have happened before embarking on his political career. Everybody, he kept on saying, had the right to a private life in their youth.
The questioning got tougher and tougher but Cameron stood firm and eventually the issue got forgotten about – almost. (He still gets called “druggie Dave” by Kevin Maguire – something that now says more about the writer than the Tory leader.)
What this taught me is that nobody is going to get rich underestimating the resolve of David Cameron – when he’s taken a decision like the Coulson one he’ll stick with it.
I love the giving Coulson “a second chance” line – something that’s designed to make his attackers sound unreasonable while at the same time giving the impression that he has a generous spirit.
Sure Cameron’s response could have been harder to sustain if the police had decided to investigate – but that’s now ruled out by Yates of the Yard – and Cameron’s gamble of this morning seems to have paid off.