Has David Cameron been damaged politically by the conviction of Andy Coulson?

Ben Harris-Quinney, director of Conservative Grassroots, says Yes.

The phone hacking saga is still unfolding, but it is unlikely that the verdict on David Cameron’s hiring of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as director of communications at Number 10 will change.
The whole episode puts a question mark over the Prime Minister’s judgement.
Cameron has said that his decision to employ Coulson on the basis of the undertakings he was given was wrong. But under the circumstances, the Prime Minister should have insisted on a more comprehensive independent vetting investigation before bringing Coulson to Downing Street.
Cameron has been right to subsequently apologise over the matter. But the harsh irony is that, despite his apology to the nation this week, the incident will damage Cameron personally and politically more than the government or anyone within it.
The issue is likely to haunt the Prime Minister for some time.
Charles Lewington, managing director of Hanover Communications and former director of communications for the Conservative Party, says No.

Voters made up their minds about Cameron and Coulson years ago. A 2011 ComRes poll showed two-thirds felt Cameron’s decision to hire Coulson showed poor judgement. The remaining third didn’t seem to notice or care.

Since then, as the economy recovered, the Conservatives have led the polls on competence and capability. Cameron’s personal ratings have remained high.

In the long run, economic competence matters a lot more to voters than HR competence.

Cameron’s rapid apology was a communications master class in moving a story along. His dogged belief in second chances and emphasis on the trust he places in his team will also have not been lost on the public, who view politicians as fickle creatures.

While this story will be frustrating for Cameron, for those that care about the issue, the damage has already been done – and for those who don’t, nothing will have changed.