I’ve already written about the mess the government has made with the handling of the situation in Libya. As we continue to evacuate the last British citizens from the desert of north Africa and Libya heads ponderously towards civil war, the blame game will get underway. Just whose fault was the poor response from the UK?
Despite his claim that in the age of the BlackBerry he is always in charge, David Cameron will be manoeuvring to make sure that the finger isn’t pointed at him.
Nick Clegg, although he ended up looking foolish with his statement that maybe he was meant to be running the country and had forgotten (what with all the skiing), won’t be blamed for the failings of this operation.
No, even though the Tories would like to be able to blame the Lib Dems or even Labour, the most obvious fall guy here is going to be William Hague.
Hague has always been a great speaker, a consummate performer in the House of Commons where his skills as a debater combined with his quick wit make him a star at the despatch box. As leader of the opposition, he was always worth watching as he went up against Tony Blair during Prime Minister’s Questions. But at the same time, there was always something lacking in him as an administrator. There were flaws in his party management back then, and there have been flaws in his leadership of the FCO in the last couple of weeks.
Not only could he not organise the chartering of some aircraft, something that there are surely contingency plans in place for, but he then announced to the world that Muammar Gaddafi had fled Libya and was en route to Venezuela. Not only did this mislead people in Libya and around the world, but it caused a totally unnecessary diplomatic incident with Caracas.
Forcing your boss into a place where they have to apologise in the media for the government’s performance can’t possibly be good for your career prospects. Hague may have survived the Ashcroft affair, but this time he is a very attractive scapegoat for Cameron. And, as the bookies have him as the 8/1 favourite to be the next to leave the cabinet, I’m not the only one who thinks Hague may have to go.