The Week in Review: Cameron's mangled Olympic hangover

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One almighty Olympic hangover.
One almighty Olympic hangover.

How long ago the days of summer seem. It feels like months ago that the noise of the crowds in the Olympic stadium pushed British athletes on to victory, that we could relax with utter certainty of gold every time British pants sat on Olympic bikes.

Already the wind is growing cold, the nights are drawing in, the football is back and parliament has returned. Cameron is not basking in the glow of a successful Olympics, as all political logic dictates he should be. Instead he is shivering in the cold – rejected by the left, sneered at by the centre, distrusted by the right.

Even during the Olympics he wasn't having much fun, as every day brought new reports of quite how much everyone preferred Boris to him. Now new plots against his leadership are cropping up in the press every week. Meanwhile, the Tory right is forming dangerous new groupings, all with the power to stab him in the back when he least expects it.

Of course, there are other leaders having an even more torrid time. But no-one has ever been reassured by the idea Nick Clegg is worse off than them. It's like telling a whining child that at least they're not starving. They won't listen or care. So Cameron will not have been relieved to learn that Clegg's leadership was even more precarious than his. His right-hand-man/future-assassin Vince Cable had been texting sweet nothings to Ed Miliband, playing footsies under the table while snarling with his face.

Ming the Merciless attacked his colleague for the overtures, but he's just jealous. The former athlete was thrown out for being too old, if you remember, and now everyone talks about the 69 year old Cable like some great white hope.

The business secretary also notched up a couple of important victories this week – one on student immigration figures and the other on no-fault-dismissal, which no-one but red-faced, foaming-at-the-mouth right-wingers think is a good idea. Downing Street sent Michael Fallon to the Department of Business to balance out Cable's 'I'm not sure capitalism's really all that great after all' approach, but the early evidence suggests the Lib Dem is making mincemeat out of him.

Meanwhile, the Hillsborough report finally came out and made everything else look unimportant. The Commons sat in silence and some MPs wept openly as the findings were read out. It was the greatest establishment cover-up in recent memory. Days later, the ramifications were still being felt, and the sense that someone had to pay was growing stronger by the hour.

Cameron, who is increasingly a stranger to positive sentiments, pulled a blinder. Sincere, caring and statesmanlike, he apologised on behalf of the government and expressed the appropriate amount of raw emotion. It was a speech Boris simply could not have given – not just because he allowed appalling comments about Hillsborough into the Spectator while editing it, but also because his charming buffoonery prevents him appearing solemn or distinguished.

The closer Boris gets to the throne, the more these sorts of deficiencies will appear.

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