Dobbin-gate: The best comment on David Cameron’s ride on Rebekah Brooks’ and The Met’s Raisa
DOBBIN(G)-GATE: The best comments on David Cameron’s ride on Raisa, the horse the Met lent to Rebekah Brooks. Before the horse died, Rupert Murdoch’s tame tabby Rebekah Brooks let David Cameron have a ride on it – to go for a hack, as it were. Thanks to Murdoch, even right-wingers are agreeing with the Guardian. The media mucks out:
Michael Crick, Channel 4:
#horsegate In Commons in 2004 Cameron attacked plans for horse passports. He said they’d affect “every child’s pony, every happy hacker.”
The Telegraph’s Mark Hughes.
Mrs Brooks’s spokesman says that Rebekah only rode the horse once before discovering that Raisa was “too traumatised” to be ridden by a novice rider. Her spokesman said that reason was that the horse had spent “13 years in the riot squad”. Mr Cameron has admitted riding the horse, but did not say how many times meaning he potentially got more use out of it that Mrs Brooks.
Mrs Brooks’s husband Charlie, a horse trainer, did continue to ride the horse as he is an experienced horseman, the spokesman said. Mr Brooks has also apparently taken umbrage at the suggestion that the horse should not have been ridden at all. The spokesman said that Mr Brooks actually travelled to the mounted police headquarters, Imber Court, in Thames Ditton to demonstrate to officers that he could ride the horse. The spokesman added: “The police knew full well that the horse was going to be ridden.”
Telegraph’s Will Heaven:
Symbolically it could hardly be more damaging for Cameron. It confirms his place in the Chipping Norton set, and at the same time links him to the shadier side of the Metropolitan Police. But I think another reason why Cameron will hate this story is more basic: it makes him look like a toff.
Lord Norman Tebbit.
Personally, I think that Mr Cameron’s background as a public relations man blinded him to the need to change the relationship with people like Rebekah Brooks to something much more professional and distant when it became clear that, as Rupert Murdoch had withdrawn from day to day management of his British newspapers, some highly questionable practices had begun to take hold in The News of The World and The Sun.
Certainly it was unwise to have brought into No 10 as an adviser someone who might fairly or unfairly be tarred with that brush. That experience should have taught him two lessons: first, do not make that sort of mistake; but second, if you do, act quickly, act decisively and above all don’t not try to cover things up with half-truths.
The embarrassing admission raises questions about the closeness between Mr Cameron and Mrs Brooks, the former tabloid editor who quit as chief executive of News International at the height of the phone hacking scandal last summer. Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman said: “People will be dismayed that while News International was busy hacking phones, David Cameron was out hacking with Rebekah Brooks’s husband. David Cameron has not been straight about just how close he was to senior executives at News International and it’s time for him come clean about the extent of this relationship.”
Chris Bryant MP (Lab):
http://t.co/ZXBaaLQo I can’t decide whether this is just innocently surreal – or clear evidence that Cameron was far too entwined with NI.
This one will run and run, even if the running days of the former Met police horse that was lent to Rebekah Brooks are over. Raisa the horse, sadly, has turned up her hooves.
But we now know, thanks to the tenacity of the Telegraph’s Christopher Hope, that Cameron did ride the horse. Chris kept asking the straight question of Number 10 until he got an answer, or rather until the Prime Minister admitted that he had and then, in a classic Cameron way, deftly tried to laugh it off: “I won’t be getting back in the saddle any time soon”.
There are those who say this doesn’t matter at all. But they are just wrong.
Sometimes stories that seem to be silly (and this one is hilarious) illustrate bigger truths or become metaphors for a scandal. The duck house in the MPs expenses scandal is one such example. Horsegate, depending how far it runs and whether or not it seeps into the consciousness of voters via the News at 10 and satirical TV programmes, could come to be seen as an enduring symbol of the excessive closeness between the political, media and police elites.
“I can categorically state that he never rode that horse. I do actually live there. It’s all rubbish….I saw that horse and it wasn’t badly treated as some people were saying, it was beautifully treated, it was only there for a very short time and David Cameron never rode it.”
Will all the nation’s politicians start to distance themselves from equestrianism? The hospitality boxes at the Olympic three-day eventing will stand empty. MPs’ children’s ponies will mysteriously disappear from the stables; the price of glue shall plummet. Nick Clegg will spectacularly misjudge the public mood and buy shares in a racehorse called Cotswold John.
Tom Harper, Evening Standard:
I didn’t realise this horse story would have quite such long legs! #horsegate
Ian Katz, Guardian:
iankatz1000 ian katzHorsegate more than just bit of fun. Goes to heart of PM’s unhealthy relationship with R Brooks about which No 10 hs consistently dissembled
Paul McMullan (formerly NoW):
“Cameron went horse riding regularly with Rebekah. I know, because as well as door-stepping celebrities, I’ve also door-stepped my ex-boss by hiding in the bushes, waiting for her to come past with Cameron on a horse . . . before the election to show that – you know – Murdoch was backing Cameron.”
Denis MacShane MP (Lab):
DenisMacShane Denis MacShaneHorse gags are fun but allow jokes to submerge the collusion, corruption and criminality at heart of matterr
Tom Newton Dunn (Sun):
“Let me shed some light on it. I have known Charlie Brooks, the husband of Rebekah Brooks for over 30 years, and he is a good friend. Before the election I did go riding with him. He has a number of different horses and yes one of them was this former police horse Raisa, which I did ride… I am very sorry to hear that Raisa is no longer with us and I think I should probably conclude by saying I don’t think I will be getting back into the saddle any time soon.”
But he had “no recollection” of ever having ridden with the ex-tabloid editor herself and had not ridden with Mr Brooks since entering 10 Downing Street, she (Doening street spokeswoman) insisted.
“It’s a matter of record that I have been riding with Rebekah Brooks’ husband, Charlie Brooks. He is a friend of mine for 30 years standing and a neighbour in my constituency so that’s a matter of record, but since I have been prime minister I think I have been a on a horse once and it wasn’t that one.”
But the Met’s website says: “At the end of the Police Horse’s working life the animal is re-homed at one of many identified establishments who have previously contacted the Mounted Branch with a view to offering a home. The Mounted Branch is looking for suitable homes for retired horses, that is homes where the horse will not be ridden. Anyone in the south east of England offering such a home will be considered first.”
“The saga of the horse may seem trivial, “ said Tom Watson, a member of Parliament who has pursued allegations about criminality at Murdoch’s papers. “(However) it’s further evidence of the intensely close relationship between executives at News International and the Metropolitan Police.”
London Mayor Boris Johnson said he had not ridden the horse. ”I count myself proudly as a non-member of any kind of Chipping Norton set,” he told BBC London, in a reference to the area of Oxfordshire where Mr Cameron and Mrs Brooks live.
The fact that Brooks was ‘given’ a retired police horse in the first place has caused further speculation about inappropriate nature of Brooks’ relationship with the police. However, according to Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare (WHW) the former Sun editor was performing a charitable service by taking a retired police horse on loan.
“She saved the taxpayer money by paying for its food and vet bills while the horse remained the property of the Met, and by providing a loving home for an animal that has given such valuable service to society,” he said. “The real scandal is that so few people consider rehoming a horse, which is not the case with cats and dogs – even though horses live much longer.
Image: Sun, July 7, 2011. (Spotter.)