Robert Peston nails the Cable story

I was going to write a post about the Cable / Telegraph / other Lib Dem ministers story, but reading Robert Peston’s post I see he’s said what I was going to say – but said it first and said it better. So over to him:

What I still feel bemused about is why the Telegraph, for which I used to work, did not publish the one story that would have unquestionably legitimised its under-cover exercise to elicit the private views of Lib Dem ministers.

Pretty much everything these Lib Dems have been caught saying about their Tory colleagues is what one would expect them to say to their supporters in private. And readers of my blog, among others, say there are questions to be asked about whether democracy is best served by hounding MPs to such an extent that perhaps in future they will feel safe to speak their minds only in the matrimonial bed.

Vince Cable speakingBut Vince Cable’s remarks that he had “declared war on Mr Murdoch” were in a different category … because there was something very special about Mr Cable’s legal status as business minister, in respect of his dealings with Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation and its attempt to buy the 61% of BSkyB that it doesn’t already own…

Why didn’t the Telegraph publish these remarks when it exposed much of the rest of what Mr Cable said to undercover reporters overnight on Monday? Why weren’t these remarks included in what it called, on its website, a “full transcript” of the secretly recorded interview?

The small caveat I would add is that, as I pointed out yesterday morning, it was evident that the “full” transcript, although described as such had been edited. The small jumps in the audio version also made clear that the text could not have been the full text (and that the audio was not the full audio). But overall Peston’s on the money with his views. You can read the rest of his post here.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Surely the fact that a government minister makes the final decision rather than an independent authority means this is inherently a political decision anyway? People expected Vince to oppose it just like they now expect Jeremy Hunt to approve it. If the Government didn’t want to be in this position they should have appointed an independent judge on the matter.

  • david clayton 22nd Dec '10 - 12:46pm

    Go back to your constituencies and prepare for opposition. The Lib Dems are stuffed. Everyone else appears cleverer, nastier, more honest and capable. That is one hell of an achievement.

  • Gareth Epps 22nd Dec '10 - 1:14pm

    Far from act as an echo for Peston, an individual who has never shown anything other than contempt for Liberal Democrats and Cable in particular, people should be asking why Peston should be choosing to kebab his current and former employers? His ‘have you stopped beating your wife?’ line of questioning of the Telegraph focuses attention away from the paper’s underhand tactics (which his colleague Nick Robinson argues correctly are likely to undermine the democratic process) in an attempt to smear the current editorial team.

    Worse still is his fawning adoration for Jeremy Hunt, who is at least as prejudiced as Vince Cable on the subject of Murdoch and should never have been handed the responsibility.

  • I think Peston’s judicial analogy is quite inapt. Judges do not refer cases for investigation- prosecutors do that. It should come as no surprise that Cable thinks there is something amiss about the Newscorp takeover, otherwise he would be just wasting a vast sum of Ofcom’s funds. The Bus Sec’s role in this is part prosecutor, part judge and the roles may blur.
    Having said that, politically he was very unwise given that he is dependent on Cameron, who is dependent on Murdoch.

  • Dominic Curran 22nd Dec '10 - 2:47pm

    @ david clayton

    If the telegraph came after any other party as single-mindedly as they have the libdems, believe me, then those parties would look just as bad.

  • I have no inside knowledge on the DT story but I have long experience as an investigative journalist. I won’t get involved here in the rights and wrongs of what the actual journalists did although so there is no mistake in my position I don’t think there is any argument against the Public Interest position and, indeed, by Cameron taking some disciplinary action against Cable he actually upholds that position IMHO.

    Leaving aside conspiracy theories for the moment let’s look at what the DT did with the info. They ran a story which would have annoyed the hell out of Cameron and Clegg especially as they were having their Xmas wash-up press conference on the same day.

    Still they had taken the necessary action to slap-down Vince and the cabinet meeting must have been hell for Vince. What we don’t know is whether Vince revealed the full extent of his gaffe to Cameron and Clegg or did he just sit stumm and hope it would all just go away.

    In any case the Daunless Duo held their conference and did reasonably well in dealing with Cable’s gaffe. But within minutes they were then hit by the Murdoch angle and well we all know what followed.

    Looking at the mechanics – if you have a lot of exclusive info in a story you will try to maximise it’s value in terms of news impact and circulation. Often you will lead with the ‘weaker’ side of the story and then sucker-punch with the real blockbuster and this is what happened here. The strange difference is that the real story wasn’t carried by the DT but by broadcast media viz BBC TV.

    I am dismissing today’s follow-up on the other 3 LibDem ministers as being fairly weak and I doubt if they factor in the equation we are discussing.

    I realise some argue minor details about full transcript/not full transcript etc. Even if the DT had always meant to run the second story itself it would have referred to the first story transcript as the ‘Full Transcript’ because that’s what it actually was for that story. I think anyone involved at the heart of breaking big sensitive and important stories would readily accept that. In any case the DT had made it clear there would be more to come.

    But what followed is difficult to explain. I don’t accept for a second that a whistleblower handed over the tape and transcript to anyone outwith the DT without being told to do so. The material involved would be held by a very small number of people at a very senior level and any whistleblower would be instantly identified and sacked and I doubt if they would ever be re-employed by any other media employer – even the BBC. After all, if they did it to one employer chances are you will do it to you.

    So I have to conclude that on face-value, at a senior level in the DT, a decision was taken to gift the story to Peston or someone else in the Beeb who dressed it up a bit to disguise the true origin.

    What is undeniable in media terms is that if the Murdoch angle was held until the next day by the DT it would still have had a huge effect and the outcome vis-a-vis Cable would still probably have been the same. But the timing of the TV release just after the press conference when Clegg and Cameron thought they had walked on water and got away with it was exlplosive.

    So was it the DT on some other agenda oither than just genuinely breaking a great news scoop – I don’t know the answer to that.

    But I recognise that other forces may have been at work – possibly the leak to the BBC came from another source and the favourite suspects would be an anti coalition LibDem MP/Minister; a similar Tory source; the Murdoch camp. Again I have no idea from where but it remains a possibility.

    All they needed to know was that the Murdoch angle existed and they would then pressure the DT for the tape and transcript on the basis that the DT wouldn’t have an exclusive the next day – everyone would have it and really how many would read the boring old transcripts when the juicy bits could be filched from the DT early or first editions. The transcripts in hard reality were most useful for the journalists submitting their entries for Investigative Journalist of the Year Awards – trust me, you have no idea what a spur that is to a journalist and I readily admit being infected with it on quite a few occasions 🙂

    Far-fetched? Not really and you have to factor-in the internal politics of the DT given the info they were holding on the Murdoch angle which could easily be regarded as a hot potato. The editor would be fighting to keep his exclusive but much more senior people could easily have seen a structured leak as the best way forward and at the end of the day the DT still had the credit of some good investigative journalism.

  • Actually the biggest missed story was at Nick and Cameron’s press conference when they both opened the way for a joint coalition election campaign at the next election. Which is a merger by any other name.

    Yet Nick and Cameron got away with saying it.

  • @Dominic Curran who stated: ‘If the telegraph came after any other party as single-mindedly as they have the libdems, believe me, then those parties would look just as bad.’

    Dominic – the reality is this was a good idea from someone in the DT and it was a very basic investigation which would have cost pennies to carry out. Take it as a lesson – the LP is under no illusion about the DT political agenda and now the LibDems realise that being in bed with Cameron doesn’t provide them with a shield against the DT and its agenda which is supported by a vast number of Conservatives.

    I once did an investigation which stretched over 5.5 years and even saw me cut my honeymoon short because of a break in the story. I regard the outcome of that as the greatest thing I have ever achieved journalistically. I’m not decrying the DT journos but deary me Vince made it awfully easy for them – they didn’t even raise Murdoch.

    Vince spouted off about his powers unbidden and revealed a very dangerous character flaw which will see his removal as a Minister before long with a glissade down the corridor to the ‘other’ place where he might even end up as a very cross-bencher.

    But as he sits there he will have a lot of time to ponder on what might have been and how he might actually have done his country an enormous service by stopping Murdoch. But that’s life and politics for you.

  • As ever, the Westminster world misses the point. Similar to Mark’s own comments on the BBC last night, the fact is many ordinary LibDems (and many others opposed to Murdoch who are not LibDems) will be delighted that a senior LibDem is (a) taking such a forthright position against Murdoch and (b) expressing himself so strongly within the coalition.

    For the Westminster massive this is a story about “politicking”. For the rest of us it is a story about a respected (!) politician being honest, passionately standing up for what he believes is right, and not kowtowing to one of the world’s most powerful media owners. Was Cable politically foolish to say what he did? Perhaps, within the confines of the way that Westminster works; arguably he’s lessened the likelihood of NewsCorp being rebuffed in its full takeover of Sky, now that he (opposed to NewsCorp dominance) has been supplanted by Hunt (perhaps less so…). But the electorate are not completely dumb, and will not see this as the media forcing the government to be fair and impartial in its dealings with an innocent party. They will not be thinking “shame on Vince Cable”, “poor Murdoch”. In short, they will be little surprised by any of this:

    * They will see the Daily Telegraph desperate to discredit LibDems ministers – no surprise

    * They will see the Tories protecting Murdoch – no surprise

    * They will see any future capitulation on the part of Hunt in favour of NewsCorp as final proof of the Tories being in hock to Murdoch

    * They will see Vince Cable being principled in his views and vocal in his opposition to NewsCorp – little surprise there either.

    What is a little surprising is the fact that the Daily Telegraph should choose to run this story (through whatever means) when the outcome is ostensibly to increase the likelihood of NewsCorp getting the all clear on BSkyB. Could they be even more opposed to the LibDems than to Murdoch…?

    As a final thought: perhaps, after all, the fact that Vince Cable is still in his job reflects a realisation by Cameron and crew that – far from having “lost all credibility” as Milliband has it – Vince Cable’s reputation amongst ordinary people may by untarnished, perhaps even bolstered, by these events. Not only would that make his sacking a potential “nuclear” event for LibDems, it may make the Tories feel the NewsCorp situation is, strangely enough, more finely-balanced than ever.

    Through his (perhaps inadvertent) transparency, Vince Cable has cast a bright light onto the NewsCorp affair, making Jeremy Hunt’s hand more difficult to play than many commentators seem to think. Could the DT be hoping that transparent politics will save the day, after all?

  • @sidf

    I tried to deal more with the mechanics of the story propagation here rather than more general matters.

    However you stated: ‘ They will see Vince Cable being principled in his views and vocal in his opposition to NewsCorp – little surprise there either.’

    I find this a strange statement as Vince attempting two impress a couple of female reporters who giggled encouragingly for him is what the public will remember of this personally very sad episode for Cable and his wife.

    You seem to miss the whole point that if Vince actually was principled in his views and vocal in opposition to Murdoch he required to step aside from the decision and if he had voiced his opposition in cabinet or in discussion with any ministerial colleagues I feel certain he would have been told he should stand aside or at the very least seek legal advice on his position as a cabinet minister and the duties he was required to discharge impartially.

    I have recognised that some LibDem activists will be comforted by the statements made by the four ‘outed’ ministers. But the problem that exists is that their opposition appears to have had no effect and one wonders how this ‘opposition’ was actually voiced. Was it voiced in Cabinet? Was it voiced in the guise of a constituent – honest a real one – expressing concern and the MP then acting as Royal Mail by posting a letter to the relevant minister.

    Quite frankly, if the latter, then that is the coward’s way out. Principled voicing of opinion in this context means the LibDem minister arguing against it in cabinet and I have no indication from anywhere that this actually happened.

    Sadly, the quality of our broadcast and a lot of the print media journos these days is so poor they are incapable of putting these kind of questions let alone press the interviewee to give an actual answer.

    Although personally opposed to Murdoch, I often think that today’s poor quality journalists are a bigger threat to an effective media in this country than Murdoch.

    Cable isn’t being kept by Cameron because the ordinary people love him – he is there to prop-up an increasingly shaky looking coalition which if it collapses with take Clegg and Cameron with it and consign them to a small footnote in a dusty tome on constitutional history noting the failed coalition experiment.

    You also laud Vince’s transparency well you obviously haven’t read the comment, on another thread, from a Twickenham activist a tad annoyed because Vince had shared more with two strangers that at his recent local party agm or conference.

    However, I actually hope that left of centre libs can take some heart from the slight stirrings of conscience in LibDEm Ministers who voted for the tuition fee increase and every other draconian Tory measure with plenty still to come.

  • @Niklas Smith

    I take your point to an extent but, in general, it’s quite common not to give the journos comments and to be honest to move sections of a transcript around with the ‘tastier’ material at the start rather than at the end after pages of ramblings which no ordinary member of the public would read. But there is always a balance to be struck in keeping matters in context and balance.

    Also in stories like this the pressure on the journos involved in the newspaper office is enormous with a barrage of questions about the story, rewrites, changes, deadlines, policy conferences, news conferences and all the rest.

    If I thought the DT had got it wrong badly then please believe me I would have a go at them. I am judging the finished article using my professional knowledge of these situations in real life and yea there may be some small discrepancies but do they actually alter the truth of what happened.

    The public’s lasting memory of this – as opposed to LibDem activists of whatever persuasion – I believe will be Vince being lured onto the rocks not by a siren song but by enthusiastic giggling. But then that’s not truly accurate either because the reporters didn’t ask Vince about Murdoch, as far as we know. But even if they did it would have had no effect on the outcome.

    Indeed if they had specifically asked him then it might bolster the conspiracy theory in that it had been already leaked to the DT by someone. Perhaps that is a bit cut-out from the tape and transcript – possibly.

    Another thing to remember is that it is often a nightmare transcribing from a tape or even a digital recorder and often impossible to decipher some words or phrases. Personally, I tended to ignore these sections if I was unsure but the tape was always there as well as a full transcript showing where the blanks were for legal scrutiny.

    But to be honest this is picking over the chicken-bones – there has been no complaint from Vince that he was misrepresented or words put in his mouth or used out of context.

    Often as a journalist when I was interviewing a politician on-the-run that I knew and asked for a quote, they would often say – you know what I would say anyway, just make it up yourself. This wasn’t just LP politicians btw. But it was a different era and I would never quote someone saying something that they wouldn’t say and I didn’t twist anyone’s words whether I made up the quote or not lol. Possibly that shocks you but there was trust,

    In terms of changing what politicians say, as a young journalist I covered a small local council and like my predecessor I cleaned-up the copy to make it intelligible for public consumption. After a by-election a new members complained officially that I had put things in the local paper that he hadn’t actually said. Didn’t change the meaning of what he said but fair enough I got my knuckles rapped.

    I then covered the council verbatim for three months. Well, every councillor from every party were begging me to go back to the old ways and remove the countless uhms, ahs and all the other noises and verbal gaffes which I had sanitised. I even got the offer of a PR job from them later and who knows whether they were trying to buy me off.

    But one good thing was that we had a hugely increased letters page input and two of the parties reselected new more articulate councillors to replace long-standing ones at the next election. So things work in mysterious ways as my granny always used to say 🙂

  • David Allen 22nd Dec '10 - 6:55pm

    “The public’s lasting memory of this … I believe will be Vince being lured onto the rocks not by a siren song but by enthusiastic giggling.”

    That depends very much on how effectively it is spun and followed up, by whom, and for what purpose. Sidf above, who clearly hasn’t a clue about the legal implications of fettered discretion, but does have a clue about understanding the public mood, may have called it right.

    What Lib Dems must do is to build on the positive side of this, start speaking up for their real beliefs, push for a more even-handed coalition, and admit that the Trappist policy was a mistake. If that happens, the public will forgive the fact that it took two giggling girls to break the logjam.

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd Dec '10 - 7:16pm

    The comments on Mr Cable in the press strike me as very similar to the Politburo in the last days of Soviet Communism desperately trying to defend their orthodoxy and power by raising as “enemy of the people” any of their number who stepped out of line. Mr Cable has spoken the truth, and they don’t like it. The silly little puppets who are trying to curry favour with their masters by knocking Cable here are just the sort of creeps we always see in these situations. I suspect the vast majority of British people who care about thee things will say “I agree with Vince”.

    I can now see that Thatcherism/Blairism/Cameron-Cleggism is on its way out. What we have seen here is the beginning of the end.

  • @EcoJon

    Can’t argue with your analysis of the mechanics of the DT’s decision, and everything you have said from a journalist’s perspective. But my point is that things seen from the point of view of a journalist (on the DT or anywhere else) do not necessarily chime with the way things are seen beyond the Westminster world. What might be spun as “being lured onto the rocks not by a siren song but by enthusiastic giggling” to journalists and politicos may well be seen by some others as innocent, slightly foolish, but hardly his fault. In short, he may be seen – by some – as victim as much as culprit.

    And in respect of the legal / ministerial responsibilities of the matter – as also alluded to by @ David Allen – my point is that the minister-in-charge being opposed a priori to NewsCorp’s acquisition of BSkyB is – legally-speaking – actually no worse than the minister-in-charge being a priori in favour of it.

    Public perception of politicians is such that there is little expectation or trust in ministers acting impartially in such matters – indeed isn’t almost naive to think so? In pure legal terms, of course, removing the decision from Cable’s remit was the very least that had to happen – it is indeed surprising in many ways that he’s still in his job. My conjecture is simply that more people may side with the “principled objector” than with the “compliant approver”, and that in practical terms this inadvertent / foolish / unusual transparency may have a more complex impact on the final outcome than might first appear.

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd Dec '10 - 8:08pm

    On the Murdoch issue itself, quite obviously anyone who is a member of a political party which has had the enthusiastic support of the Murdoch press is just as biased as Mr Cable is on making this decision. No-one who espouses the sort of ideology that Mr Murdoch runs his empire to promote can possibly make a neutral unbiased decision on this. Putting this decsiion into the hands of a Conservative Party MP is like asking a member of Mr Berlusconi’s government to give a neutral opinion on media control in Italy.

  • David Allen 22nd Dec '10 - 9:33pm

    “the reality is this was a good idea from someone in the DT and it was a very basic investigation which would have cost pennies to carry out.”

    The charge made is that this is no different from the undercover sting which exposed a Labour minister as a “cab for hire”, and that if Lib Dems applaud that piece of investigative journalism, they should be equally happy to accept that what the DT did to Cable was fair dinkum.

    On reflection, I beg to differ. If you go undercover to find out if someone will take a bribe, you are specifically searching out evidence of criminality. There is a public interest defence for that. There is also no way that an honest man might be caught out by a honeytrap operation in those circumstances. No amount of giggling would persuade an honest man to take a bribe!

    I don’t know if David Howarth is right to say that what the DT did was illegal: but it should be. I am not saying that out of any sympathy for Cable. He should not have got conned. However, a con trick should not be legal.

    While we are on this topic the other issue to consider is the Mrs Duffy episode. That is similar to what happened to Cable, with the exception that the microphone was said to be there because of an honest mistake. Are we sure of that? Will the next “mistake” be genuine? Should the law prevent (or, at least, impose sanctions against) disclosures like the Mrs Duffy episode? Difficult one, but the answer might have to be yes, if the alternative is that nobody ever feels safe talking to anyone else about what they really think.

  • @sidf

    Very interesting link sidf. I would agree with you that being pre-disposed towards or against, before hearing the evidence, are both equally wrong.

    However it’s a bit like defining National Interest because the Tory definition of that is different from the LP and to be fair to the LibDems, their core definition I believe, is also different to the Tory one. This also means that the children of Thatcher will go for the ‘compliant approver’ as it suits their economic interests.

    Sadly Clegg and Alexander are so painfully inexperienced that Cameron has rolled all over them and it doesn’t help that they are so politically aligned with him. And it’s this kind of thing that worries me because various grandees have been wheeled out for interview today saying just how neat and clean it would be if these decisions were dealt with by say a Regulator and not by politicians. This would be a terrible road to go down and what an abdication of responsibility to the non-elected, non-accountable faceless ones.

    You know I am now beginning to believe that the DT has to be asked questions and if I was a journo on the story the first one would be: ‘How is your investigation into the whistleblower going?’ I am now more than ever convinced there is no whistleblower and that really does open up very serious questions and a Commons Cttee should be pursuing the issue.

    But will Clegg or Cable attempt to do this or are they afraid that the ‘dogs of war’ may be loosed by that move?

    I hear what you say about Vince but he is finished and actually was finished over tuition fees in the public-eye but Cameron still has a use for him in January to argue the second stage so I think any sympathy he might garner back as a ‘principled objector’ on this issue will be swamped by tuition fees 2. I think you must also remember that Murdoch gives the populace carnivals and cake via Sky so they are unlikely to have much empathy with Cable who may find himself demonised by the Murdoch media.

    So I’m sorry but Cable will have few friends – he never really had any – at Westminster and will be dead man walking until he is discarded IMHO.

    Btw sidf I am not and have never been part of the Westminster Village and am not a political journalist – I am much more deeply rooted in reality.

    @David Allen who stated: ‘What Lib Dems must do is to build on the positive side of this, start speaking up for their real beliefs, push for a more even-handed coalition, and admit that the Trappist policy was a mistake.’

    David, we are seeing a vicious attack being launched on all fronts, aimed at the middle classes down to the unemployed and unemployable, by the Coalition Government. The victims don’t give a sh*t about a lot of policy issues the LibDems see as important. They are worried about their jobs, keeping their homes, trying to educate their children, worrying about benefits if they are out of work and similar basic issues. Do you think any of them actually care about the likes of AV while they are tearing their hair out with worry.

    The vast majority have no interest in what – in the current climate – could be seen as esoteric Liberal policies and Cameron knows this but he will let you have the odd bauble to keep you wedded to his Tory ideology. The Coalition is playing Russian Roulette with the economy and the people who are already paying the price are the poor.

    Slowly you will come to realise there can’t be a more even-handed coalition – this is not what this is all about. The agenda is the destruction of the LibDems as it currently exists. Will Cameron achieve it? Who knows but he will have a lot of help from the right of your party. So there are huge stakes to play for and acts of courage required way beyond turning a Nelson Eye and hoping the bad boy will go away.

    He won’t and sadly Vince has weakened your chance of a fightback and when he ends up a saddened old man on the back benches he will serve as an object lesson for upward striving LibDem MPs.

    But I’m an optimist – there will be some MPs who fight and I believe a lot of the party members will as well. But who knows people may find it easier to become an adjunct to the Tories.

  • David Allen 22nd Dec '10 - 9:55pm

    “The victims don’t give a sh*t about a lot of policy issues the LibDems see as important.”

    Dead right. We have been bought off with trifles.

    “Slowly you will come to realise there can’t be a more even-handed coalition”

    What is the alternative? For the Lib Dems to declare that there is no way they can get involved with governing, and so they must take the responsibility for precipitating a second election straight after the first, at which, of course, they will be obliterated for their inability to collaborate? No chance. We have to push for a more even-handed coalition. If that fails, it must be clear that we tried and the Tories didn’t.

    “The agenda is the destruction of the LibDems as it currently exists. Will Cameron achieve it? Who knows but he will have a lot of help from the right of your party.”

    Dead right again with this one. It is an agenda we must fight.

  • @Dave Allen

    I don’t accept the ‘cab for hire’ analogy – the two issues are different. I think from memory that Dispatches knew before it mounted the sting that the former ministers were at it.

    But I suppose it raises the question as to what happens if the sting is purely a fishing expedition but reveals wrong-doing. Does that mean the sting retrospectively becomes OK? Some tricky concepts around that one as to whether the end result justifies the means.

    I have always held that in the current case the Public Interest defence held good – this was before the Murdoch angle was revealed – because we had Cameron and Clegg and other senior Tories and LibDems publicly announcing just how wonderful the Coalition was.

    But anyone involved in politics was well aware of the turmoil going on in the LibDem party. But I think the flashpoint was the school fees rebellion. I think at that stage the DT idea was born. They would have looked at some MPs and decided who might be worth targeting and Vince would obviously be included as the architect of the policy.

    I don’t know whether the DT had any advance knowledge of the actual position of those visited and it’s worth remembering that there may have been more visited than we currently know of.

    So my view is that it was legitimate to attempt to gather evidence to show whether it was a happy coalition or not in the public interest and in view of the huge amount of media coverage then I think that public interest has been established and as I said earlier the fact that Cameron disciplined Cable this also beefs up the public interest argument.

    As regards Mrs Duffy, I have lost count of the number of open mike incidents and I personally know of a number manufactured by broadcasters with malice aforethought although I have to confess that I have used the information, on occasion, where I deemed the public interest trumped any attached taint. Saints don’t make good journalists in my experience but my conscience is clear because I always operated within my conscience and often suffered for it employment wise and had the proud badge of Honour of being on the Economic League blacklist 🙂

    I know who my class enemy is and perhaps a lot of LibDems may be unhappy with that stance but, trust me, I think they may become closer to my position the longer this deceitful coalition continues. And that’s why I support the DT investigation – even though their motive is different from mine in all probability – to show the tissue of lies that glue this opportunistic alliance together.

    I think ordinary LibDem members and some MPs are beginning to realise what they have got into and are wondering how to extricate themself and preserve their party – it won’t be easy and there will be a lot of casualties along the way.

  • @David Allen

    I hear what you say about no alternative to fighting for a more even-handed coalition.

    Of course there is – confidence and supply. It really is that simple and the worst of the Tory economic attack on the poorer and disadvantaged sections of society can be muzzled. In a coalition you cannot be anything else but a very junior partner and it is really curious how the LibDem Ministers have been expertly cast by Cameron as the panto villains.

    Supply and confidence still allows you to do deals with Cameron to get some LibDem policies through. But your party has to be realistic in that if we aren’t actually facing an economic emergency we will end up doing so by the time these cuts bite in the coming 12 months.

    I have argued on many previous threads that Cameron will manufacture the break-up of the coalition when it suits him and I would see that in year 4 before the giveaway budget as he doesn’t want the LibDems to be able to claim any electoral reward from the war-chest distribution.

    I think Clegg, Alexander and some others will make the jump at that time and those left behind will be reviled as not prepared to work in the National Interest. Clegg will be so sad as he explains how these LibDems he is leaving behind just want to be in opposition and can’t take the responsibility of government. He will point to the fights you have fought for your ‘bauble’ policies instead of concentrating on the economic issues which are paramount and which only the Tories are serious about. He will have a tear in his eye as he tells how he has no choice – in the National Interest of course.

    Your party will be trashed and to be honest a lot of them will go willingly to the Tories. You know I have fought the Tories for my whole life in various arenas and I can honestly say that I have never come across the level of nastiness and blinkered self-righteous self-interest that I have encountered on LibDem blog sites – it is quite scary as I am used to the Scottish Liberal radical tradition for which I have enormous respect. The only thing I have seen like it before was the SNP in the 1970’s.

    Don’t get me wrong if you go for supply and confidence next year, there will be immense opposition from Clegg and his clique and he’ll swear blind that Cameron will go to the country. He won’t but it will take immense courage to stand up to that pressure.

    Don’t do it next year and it’s too late with the die cast and the fearful will lose their nerve and argue that after so long you have to hang-in till the GE. But I just don’t believe you’ll all get there and where some are going I have the feeling that you wouldn’t want to be anyway.

    Of course it’s all supposition because I suspect only Clegg, Alexander and Cameron know the big picture and Alexander probably hasn’t been show all the jigsaw pieces and to be fair there will probably have to be fretsaw adjustments on some of the pieces although it may turn into a chainsaw 🙂

  • @EcoJon said:

    “Btw sidf I am not and have never been part of the Westminster Village and am not a political journalist – I am much more deeply rooted in reality.”

    Praise be! I guess I have a concern for / bee in my bonnet about the whole Westminster Village thing; did not mean to tar you with that brush btw. I find it worrying that “politics” in its widest sense, which should be of interest to everyone in the country, has become so dominated by “politicking”: spin, power games, tactical party politics, influence and patronage… perhaps ’twas ever thus. I guess I had hoped this coalition, with the pic’n’mix of policies and openly-expressed differences of opinion, would usher in a more transparent, honest and policy-driven sort of politics. Less ideology, less New Labour “strategy”, more “running the country by making difficult decisions in the open”. Probably wishful thinking on my part, but the unintended outing of all parties’ (small-p and big-P) positions on the NewsCorp question – by making it clear that everyone has a political take on it and no-one is really neutral – feels like good politics to me.

    I was wondering whether Cable has inadvertently stumbled upon one of those “conventional weapons” he said he lacked; if this had stayed behind closed doors, the NewsCorp decision could have ended up with a high-noon of Tory pressure v. Vince’s nuclear option… and it could have gone either way. Although Cable may pay with his political career, on this one issue he yet get his way, without bringing the government down. Maybe. !?

  • It is their story and they can choose to edit it however they like.

  • @sidf

    I have no doubt that Murdoch will get the go-ahead because there is no real reason he can be refused. Pains me to say that but I reckon that’s what will happen.

    I’m also convinced that Vince wouldn’t have been able to refuse either – so I reckon it’s a strong possibility that Vince knew his bluff was going to be called and he had to escape the rock and the hard-place. Now it could have been cowardice or possibly he thought if he voted against it might have caused another damaging split with a potential to bring down the coalition.

    I don’t know enough about the position of the LibDem Parly Party to even make an educated guess on that one.

    But if we go down the conspiracy road – well everyone else does – maybe he sussed that the two ‘constituents’ were actually reporters and came up with the cunning plan to bring Murdoch into the conversation. Imagine his surprise next day when it wasn’t in the story 🙂

    Of course maybe Cameron and Clegg were in the loop as well and that’s why he wasn’t fired and the decision was transferred to a safe pair of hands and the coalition lived to fall-out another day.

    Hey I think I’m going to work up a screenplay and sell it to NewsCorp. Vince can play himself of course as he’s a one-off. But Cameron and Clegg clones are 10 a penny at central casting. I think I’ll play Murdoch.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Peter Davies
    @James Fowler, @Chris Moore. At this election, Labour will be 'Most Trusted' on the NHS in all the polls but we should have no trouble being more trusted than t...
  • Alex Macfie
    The Scottish Highlands is one of those places where electoral success depends strongly on personal popularity, and ideology is a lesser consideration. If this A...
  • David Evans
    Kit, I sad to have to contradict you, but there is evidence. You seem to be choosing to ignore it and that is a concern. All the best, David...
  • Katharine Pindar
    Correction: Michael BG's important article on how deep poverty could be ended by 2029 was of course posted here in October 2023, not 2013; the reference I gave ...
  • David LG
    Bit worried that Angus MacDonald openly identifies himself as economically right wing on the highland lib dems website, how's that going to go down in such a po...