Vince Cable described as “moral centre of the Coalition”

Praise for the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable comes today from a very surprising source, Peter Oborne in the Daily Telegraph.

Rebuking Adrian Beecroft for calling Vince a socialist, Oborne heaps praise on him:

I believe that any serious and objective consideration of Mr Cable’s record in office shows that he has been a formidable Cabinet minister, an important ally of enterprise, and, above all, one of the most loyal and supportive members of this Government.

And praises his record on employees’ rights:

Mr Cable is right and Mr Beecroft, along with his Conservative admirers, has taken a very dangerous wrong turning. The kind of untrammelled free market capitalism which Mr Beecroft is advocating is inhumane, unedifying and unBritish, and ultimately comes close to the false proposition that the Conservative Party should be the plaything of very rich men pursuing their financial interests at the expense of a disempowered workforce.

And shows how he brings business and jobs to Britain:

Mr Cable deserves the bulk of the praise for the recent small surge of inward investment into Britain, though characteristically he has not tried to grab all the credit.

Oborne then goes on to wax lyrical about Vince’s life experience:

It sounds paradoxical to say so, but Mr Cable is a new type of politician. He has knocked about the world, working as an adviser to the Kenyan government and chief economist of Shell. He has unusual personal accomplishment, as anyone who saw his remarkable appearance on Strictly Come Dancing will know. He is the author of the most gripping memoir by an active politician since that by David Blunkett. He has known personal tragedy through the slow death from cancer of his first wife, Olympia. He has rough edges and has enjoyed a genuine career outside Westminster. Alone among the Liberal Democrat members of the front bench, Mr Cable has managed to stay loyal to the Coalition without surrendering his identity.

Of course, I couldn’t agree with him for a whole article. That would be ridiculous. I’ll just point out that Oborne, in the last sentence of the paragraph above, seems to have forgotten the paper that he’s writing for ran a sting operation at the end of 2010 where Liberal Democrat ministers were recorded saying things you would very much expect Liberal Democrats to say. I wrote at the time that the whole episode had confirmed my faith in our MPs, even if I disagreed with some of the decisions they had made.

And, finally, the highest accolade:

 Mr Cable is now in that very interesting place: he is the moral centre of gravity for the Coalition and of British public life

He even throws in a bit of a comparison to Gladstone.

You can read the article in full here.

* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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12 Comments

  • mike cobley 24th May '12 - 6:25pm

    Hmm. Were I Vince Cable, how would I feel about such praise? Peter Oborne may be that rarity, the somewhat sensible, thoughtful conservative – but he still a conservative.

  • Make him Chancellor!

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th May '12 - 7:39pm

    Mike, I am no Oborne fan at all, particularly after his dreadful performance on Question Time the other week. But a broken clock is right twice a day.

  • Actually Oborne has produced some excellent articles for the Telegraph in the last year. He is by far their best commentator, which you might say isnt difficult considering the rest of them, but this article is not a one-off in that sense.

  • Keith Browning 24th May '12 - 8:45pm

    @David Pollard
    And why has no-one tried to connect Vince’s sting with all the other Sky shenanigans exemplified by Fred and his 1000 emails, texts and phone calls. There has to be a connection somewhere – surely. I wonder who suggested the sting and how many times they tried to stitch him up before they got the answer they wanted.

  • It would have been better had he been in the commons today giving some moral direction. There is opportunity to put real clear blue water between the Lib Dem position and that of the Tories over employment rights. Cameron refused to answer the question at PMQ’s and Vince was not there today. Whether the trip was pre-planned or not it allowed the impression of ducking the question to be made by the opposition.

  • Geoffrey Payne 24th May '12 - 10:41pm

    I find it difficult to like Tories, but I respect Peter Oborne for having a mind of his own. Many of his articles are really very good.

  • Daniel Henry 25th May '12 - 1:53am

    When the rest of the country was going all “hang ‘em, flog ‘em” over the Abu Hamza situation, Oborne wrote a great article reminding us that Churchill was a founding member of the ECHR and that these international rules are the to be upheld for good reason.

    Like Caron said, twice a day! :)

  • Alex Sabine 25th May '12 - 3:04am

    It’s a shame that Oborne occasionally resorts to some rather lurid invective in order to make an otherwise reasonable case: for example his outburst on the ‘traitors’ who dreamt up and colluded in the euro, and recently on Newsnight being made to look rather childish by Tim Montgomerie with his ad hominem attacks on ConHome and the Tory right.

    But he is an interesting commentator because – unlike so many – he defies easy categorisation, and thinks for himself rather than following the crowd. If I had to place him I would say he is an authentic small-c Burkean conservative who values institutions and ‘little platoons’ more than ideology, and distrusts great projects to remake the world like the euro or foreign wars.

    He has quoted with approval the important conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott, who once said: “to be conservative is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.”

    Keith, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree if you think the Telegraph organised the Cable sting because they were in cahoots with Murdoch. On the contrary, the Telegraph – for its own commercial reasons – was a leading opponent of News Corp’s bid to acquire the whole of BSkyB, and its chief executive signed a letter asking Vince to consider blocking the takeover.

    And when it published its Cable story in December 2010, it chose to omit his remarks about Murdoch and the BSkyB bid (the most explosive and newsworthy of his comments). Robert Peston blogged at the time when revealing Vince’s views on the News Corp deal having been handed the full recording by a whistle-blower: “You have to draw your own conclusions about why the Telegraph would choose not to publish those remarks (although following my publication of them, the Telegraph has now published them). Some will notice that when it comes to opposition to Mr Murdoch’s proposed takeover of Sky, there is a convergence of the Telegraph’s views and Mr Cable’s views.”.

    Finally, some other Telegraph columnists worth reading: Charles Moore (for his lucid writing and historical perspective), Matthew d’Ancona (perceptive observations on British politics and insight into Cameroon thinking), Jeremy Warner (intelligent non-doctrinaire economic commentary, like his former colleague Hamish McRae of the Independent), Roger Bootle (the Telegraph’s resident Keynesian and economic intellectual), Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (for you market monetarists), Sue Cameron (for Whitehall watchers), Mary Riddell (for insight into Team Miliband and those holding out hope for future Lib/Labbery)…

  • Let’s also not forget that Obourne co-authored with Jesse Norman MP “Churchill’s Legacy: the Conservative case for the Human Rights Act (Liberty, 2009). The very fact of this publication is a useful tool in arguments with Tory backwoodspersons.

  • Tony Dawson 25th May '12 - 5:01pm

    And now David Willetts describes Vince as a ‘Flinty Gladstonian’!

    http://playpolitical.typepad.com/uk_conservative/2012/05/cable-isnt-a-socialist-concludes-david-willetts-but-a-flinty-gladstonian.html

    Would that be a Gladstonian from the Maelor Saesneg?

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