Vince Cable: I could bring down the government

When I talked before about the Liberal Democrats showing in public the behind-the-scenes disagreements in the coalition with the Conservatives rather more, this wasn’t quite what I expected…

Vince Cable has privately threatened to “bring the Government down” if he is “pushed too far” during fractious discussions with his Conservative colleagues, The Daily Telegraph can disclose…

He believes that policies are being rushed through by the Conservatives and that ministers should be “putting a brake on” some proposals, which are in “danger of getting out of control”. Mr Cable says that, behind the scenes, the Tories and Liberal Democrats are fighting a “constant battle”, including over tax proposals. Likening the conflict to a war, he says he can always use the “nuclear option” of resignation. His departure from the Government would spell the end of the Coalition, he claims.

The disclosures emerged in a secret recording of a conversation Mr Cable had with two reporters from The Daily Telegraph posing as Lib Dem voters in his constituency.

In a rarely seen move, the Telegraph also criticises a politician for being too honest:

Mr Cable’s comments are likely to raise serious questions over his judgment. He spoke frankly to the reporters posing as young constituents during his first and only meeting with them.

In addition to the political substance of the report, it does also raise a question about journalistic ethics – is a sting operation in which journalists try to fool someone by faking personalities acceptable in cases where there is no allegation of law breaking?

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  • Grammar Police 21st Dec '10 - 8:21am

    Politician in honest (although obvious) statement shock.

    I suspect we may see more of this yet, given what The Torygraph promise in the opening para.

    Would be awful if it meant that MPs became more guarded with their constituents, in case they weren’t.

  • Good on Vince. We need to know someone is in there fighting the Lib Dem corner. As for the Torygraph, well, what a surprise that they would want to try and do down a Lib Dem!

  • Who is the real Vince Cable ?

    I think the issue is again one of trust. He has not simply gone along with those policies he criticises in private, he has positively promoted them. Either they are the cost of coalition or they are the “best option”. The public need to be able to trust what their elected representatives say and when you consider the frankly cringeworthy interviews he gave over the tuition fees issue and not this I don’t think they will know what to believe.

    How can they believe a word he states in public if he then takes the opposite position in private. There is a word for someone who acts like that, hypocrite.

    By the time he uses his nuclear option he will have zero credibility.

  • david clayton 21st Dec '10 - 8:42am

    It may be an idea for him to have a think about what is meant by Collective Cabinet Responsibility. If he can’t maintain it he cannot be in the government. Whether that would lead to an election or not i am not sure but i bet there are a few Tories doing calculations about what would happen if they went for an election now while the Lib Dems are in the bin, Labour are not looking too full of ideas and the Tories could present themselves as the hard but fair Party who is actually doing something.
    Personally (labour member so feel free to ignore) it looks like the Cons are using the Lib Dems as cover for their worst excesses and will ditch them when convenient. Given the nature of our political system this would have happened if it had been a Lib Dem – Lab coalition. So why would any Lib Dem want to be in a coalition government? Judging by these comments it seems awfully like the simple pleasure of being important.
    And don’t forget that there is a serious argument alluded to by Cable that the coalition is about to cause a lot of damage in its Maoist drive to change. Large portions of the cons would be happy to replace the NHS and other such institutions with private alternatives and this is the way they are heading. Are the Lib Dems in favour of this, in which case Collective Cabinet Responsibility will be easy to maintain, or just going along for the ride in a Ministerial car?

  • Has Vince Cable been fooled? Certainly as to the nature of his audience, but surely the wider issue is his foolish presentation of a different argument in private, to an assumed friendly audience, than the one given in public. But the Telegraph have exposed in public the lie that all is rosy in the coalition.

    It is the role of journalists to expose in public arguments that some would prefer to remain in private. The Telegraph have done this, the question now, as it has been for some time, is who is winning these internal arguments between Lib Dems and Tories?

  • Simon McGrath 21st Dec '10 - 8:49am

    ‘But the Telegraph have exposed in public the lie that all is rosy in the coalition.’
    sorry but who has been lying about this? Have the LD ever suggestion we agree on everything with the Tories?

  • More politicians are going to be caught in this sting and I doubt they will all be Liberal Democrats.

    However, what it reveals is that the spin from the Thatcherite Orange Bookers supporting Nick is just so much hogwash.

    Vince is 100% right about the reckless breakneck speed of these hastily cobbled together Thatcherite creeping privatisations of the NHS, Education and the appalling Welfare reforms. He’s also right to try and put the bankers on a leash like Ireland did, even if Osborne doesn’t want his banker friends to feel any pain.

    Make no mistake, everyone around Nick and in the Liberal Democrat Party will give 100% support of Nick in public. Just like they did for Charles and Menzies, right until they threw them both out.
    Though it must be noted that Nick couldn’t even manage that kind of support for Menzies since he said of Menzies “Ming the Mediocre, according to Clegg, is hesitant and disorganised, commits avoidable errors and lacks momentum”.

    The fact is behind the scenes everyone knows Nick is far too toxic to ever fight another election.

    This will be proved in May and the only way to ever get the public trust back will be with a new leader unsullied by grubby deals, Thatcherite policies and breaking pledges.

  • Keith Browning 21st Dec '10 - 8:52am

    Looks to me like the first major speech of the upcoming by-election – it also takes the heat off Nick.

    Naive politician or a rather clever poitician.

    If Lib Dems win the by-election this might be the key moment.

  • TheContinentalOp 21st Dec '10 - 9:03am

    Nice try Vince. Actions speak louder than words – and signed pledges – and you’re as guilty as the rest of them.

  • @Simon McGrath

    Have the LD ever suggestion we agree on everything with the Tories?

    No, but the line from the coalition has always been that they are working well together, despite gossip to the contrary. This is the first time a minister, afaik, has asserted that this is in fact not the case.

  • What the DT did here was perfectly legit as it was done in the public interest to expose the true nature of the internal workings of the coalition.

    And, it should be remembered, that if senior coalition members, including Clegg and Cameron, hadn’t been painting this as a mutual love-in to the public then there would have been no story. If Cable or any of these colleagues had made these statements in Parly there was no story but they chose to hide the true nature of the coalition. Why should the public have to wait for the memoirs of politicians to read the truth – sorry strike-out ‘truth’ and change it to anything you like and you too can be a politician with no principles.

    And it doesn’t wash to try and minimise the damage by stating it doesn’t matter because we all knew. Well perhaps LibDem apologists knew – although personally I doubt that very much – but the activists who have left the party don’t appear to have known otherwise they might have stayed and fought their corner. And the public didn’t know and aren’t they the ones that politicians are meant to be serving and not telling lies to.

    So before you all get on your high-horse and attack the DT for LibDem bashing you should always remember what a free press is meant to do. It’s meant to actually investigate and expose lies and in purely journalistic terms it did just that and did so extremely well.

    Vince showed utter naivety in discussing these issues with two total strangers and I’m afraid that when men get to a certain age – and I am at that age – they often fall easy prey to young women and as I have spent the majority of my working life as an investigative journo I have seen the phenomenon occur many many times.

    I’m not alleging any sexual impropriety but saying it is a common device to lower someone’s guard.

    The Tories have already been muttering about the freedom of LibDem coalition members to do as they please and Cameron can’t allow a senior minister to go ballistic and talk about nuclear options of bringing down the government.

    Probably sacking him immediately would be too damaging but he will go and go soon with health reasons or wanting to spend more time polishing a dance floor cited as the reason for his sad last waltz. Oh he’ll get the obligatory ministerial farewell letter and be told what a Titan of a minister he was and how everyone is so sad to see him go but they wish him well tripping the light fantastic.

    Cameron will never forgive Cable for revealing what any rational political observer is saying which is that whether you agree with the Tory ideology at work or not – the whole pace of legislative reform is too hurried, there is no detail and all sorts of consequential issues flowing from it haven’t even been anticipated let alone catered for.

    I know that LibDem coalition apologists will try and brush this off as of no consequence but they will not only fail but be laughed at. I actually believe that Vince is being honest about what he says but when you buy into collective cabinet and ministerial responsibility you don’t tell strangers all the tittle-tattle including naming Tory MPs as being on your side – no this just smacks to me of an old man trying to impress.

    Sorry to be blunt but that’s how I see it. Still it’s another nail in the coffin of the ‘new politics’ we were promised – underneath its still the same old rotten horse-trading that’s it always been. And of course there’s now a vacancy in the ministerial food-chain although I think the Tories might be pressing hard to get their hands on it.

    Another point is that Vince was obviously sold a pup on tuition fee as has now been revealed by the further cut in funding to unis announced yesterday as well as the revelation that the extra 10,000 places are only for this year and next and then going to be scrapped.

    And lo and behold the government in their new uni grantr calculations use an average grant figure of £7.4K – whatever happened to ‘exceptional circumstances’ looks like another broken or ignored pledge to me.

  • I think sting operations in this case are wrong, those reporters took time from real constituents. Then again maybe Vince realised the game and took the opportunity to get across that the LDs are fighting hard. I certainly hope so, I was despairing over fees and NHS shouting at my TV “co-alition apart you are duty bound to represent your electorate”. I accept they are in a difficult place but think the Tories are frankly taking the piss now and would welcome more public open LD critiscism of plans even if it ended the government. Britain needs to restore faith in it’s electoral system. What’s that? “but the markets wouldn’t like it?” stuff the markets, stuff the banks, they are the root cause of all that got us here today.

  • Emsworthian 21st Dec '10 - 9:42am

    Vince was silly perhaps to be caught out by the DT. There are forces both sides of the coalition who would be
    delighted to see the end of the whole enterprise. Vince is a deeply troubled man but not the only one although most of us, unlike him, can say what we like without fear of consequences. Bringing Laws back and putting Cable outside the tent could be even more destablising than leaving him be

  • @ OP

    “– is a sting operation in which journalists try to fool someone by faking personalities acceptable in cases where there is no allegation of law breaking?”

    Yes, in certain circumstances it is acceptable. I think most reasonable observers would say this situation qualifies as just such a case, because it confirms both that the LD’s are not being open with us about how the Love-in, sorry…Coalition is going, but also it shows that Uncle Vince has apparently lost his mind, as well as the few shreds of credibility he retained after the ideological gymnastics he has been forced to perform over the past six months.

    Either he’s losing his grip by falling for such an obvious honey-trap, or he’s deliberately trying to send a message that he’s being held hostage by the nasty Cleggites, and doesn’t REALLY believe what they do. Why not just grow a pair Vince, and admit that the whole idea was a wrong ‘un from the start?

  • Leviticus18_23 21st Dec '10 - 10:04am

    Go on Vince…

    Do it. Do it. Do it!

    Then you’ll be free to concentrate on reality TV.

  • @Emsworthian – if, as a councillor, someone came to one of my surgeries and asked me what I really thought of the coalition, I’d probably tell them (and it wouldn’t be too different to what Vince said.) What the DT has done is fundamentally undermine not only the ability of an MP to tell it straight to constituents, but also the confidentiality of the MP’s surgery – presumably, the tape would have had to have been started before they entered the room, and so could contain pictures or conversations snippets of other constituents discussing confidential matters. Even if the DT doesn’t publish these – and I’d be prepared to accept that they won’t – they would have been seen or heard by people within Telegraph Towers and so the confidentiality has been breached.

    On what he said, though, should we be really surprised? Surely that’s the case with any government? Gordon Brown certainly knew he had the “nuclear” button under Tony Blair; likewise David Miliband under Brown. In the current Cabinet, George Osborne and William Hague probably have the ability for the Tories, and alongside Vince, Danny Alexander would too.

    In any case, is it not just refreshing to hear a Cabinet minister day “if there’s a policy introduced which I don’t like, then I’ll resign” rather than just swallowing hard and publicly supporting it while all the time trying to kill it behind the scenes (a la Gordon Brown?)

  • Hmmm.

    Clever politics or unguarded naivety?

    It feels like an Andy Coulson jape to be honest.

    Problem is – it further fuels the impression that Vince says one thing in public; one thing to Conference; One thing to the Tories; One thing to Clegg and one thing in interviews.

    It was only a matter of time.

  • @EcoJon

    “What the DT did here was perfectly legit”

    No it was not. It was information obtained by deception. How precisely is that supposed to be OK? If someone tricks their way into your office under a false identity and steals information from you, that would be a crime.

    There was nothing legitimate about it. It is utterly disgusting. These reporters should be sacked.

  • @Robert C


    “What the DT did here was perfectly legit”

    No it was not. It was information obtained by deception. How precisely is that supposed to be OK? If someone tricks their way into your office under a false identity and steals information from you, that would be a crime.

    There was nothing legitimate about it. It is utterly disgusting. These reporters should be sacked.

    How about if somebody wins your vote by making pledges they cannot keep?

    Still, I suppose that the public now know that not only is Cable dishonest on tuition fees but that he is dishonest about the coalition.

  • @Ian Parker 21st December 2010 at 9:18 am who attacked the DT ‘sting’ and said it took time from ‘real constituents’. I’m afraid I find that slightly pathetic Ian as ‘handling’ constituents is a major part of what MPs and their office staff do and especially to make sure that they don’t clog-up a surgery.

    But it’s quite funny to hear your view that Vince realised it was a ‘sting’ and decided to turn the tables on the DT to show that the beating heart of the LibDem Parly party, with Vince in the forefront, was actually fighting back against the evil Tory Empire.

    I’m afraid that watching Vince since he took office that I’ve always wondered at the wisdom of someone his age having to carry the heavy burden of a major government office especially when I really don’t think he agrees with what is going on. I think he is an honest person and I actually believes he is working not actually for the sole benefit of his party but actually for the National Interest.

    He is probably the only coalition minister that I would say that about – but Vince is from another age, another generation. I really do hope that his health both physical and mental stands up to the strain but in spite of what he has done over tuition fees I do regard him like an old warhorse. But he has served his purpose and should be retired and he is of no longer any use to Cameron so he will go – he has got the tuition vote through and that’s what he was there for.

    Vince will now have no support from his Parly colleagues so I really think he has lost his nuclear ‘option’ and the time of his going will now be determined by Cameron and not left to Vince to decide when it might be best to inflict maximum damage on the Tories.

    Politics is often a dirty game and never more so when you are actually in power – that’s when the real assasinations are done. The Tories will start leaking all sorts of stuff about Vince and his ‘eccentricities’ and to show he isn’t fit for office. They are masters at this and especially behind the scenes. At least the LP has its brawls right out there in public or it used to 🙂

    It was interesting to hear from one poster that Vince didn’t share his frank views with his constituency party earlier this month and I keep wondering why he is getting reported as being ’embarassed’ about his comments – why isn’t he proud?

  • @ G posted 21st December 2010 at 10:17 am:

    ”@EcoJon who said: “What the DT did here was perfectly legit”

    G responded: ‘No it was not. It was information obtained by deception. How precisely is that supposed to be OK? If someone tricks their way into your office under a false identity and steals information from you, that would be a crime. There was nothing legitimate about it. It is utterly disgusting. These reporters should be sacked.’

    G – I spent a lifetime obtaining information by deception and a lot of people ended up behind bars as a result. Do you honestly believe that reporters walk up to major criminals and say hey I’m a reporter with the Daily Blah and I want you to give me the low-down on your evil activities so I can destroy you.

    Yea I’ve conned my way into offices using false identities and often gone to work for companies to get the facts I needed to run a story to expose what they were up to. However, I always operated within the NUJ Code of Conduct and never did anything that I couldn’t justify to MYSELF as being in the public interest.

    I had a long career in journalism and am proud of just about everything I did and I never ever broke the criminal law except once in another country to help political refugees escape from a dictatorship. Am I sorry I did that – absolutely not I’m proud of it and would do it again tomorrow. It wasn’t in a national interest, it was me abusing my position to save people who would at a minimum have spent many years in prison if they hadn’t got out.

    The reporters I would sack are the increasing new breed who think they are there to comment on the news and take political sides and not report factually and actually make the efforts to ask intelligent and probing questions. They also are so ill-versed that PR people and those who have had media training run rings round them and never ever actually answer a question and it seems to be beyond the wit of the interviewer to cut through the blackmange and hold the interviewee to account.

    I have a lot of issues with the DT and interestingly a lot of the same issues with the Guardian – but there you go. Basically newspapers are there to make money because the shareholding base has changed over the years. I look back with longing to the time I worked for papers with a madman hands-on owner at the helm who strangely enough, in my experience, often allowed much more freedom for real journalism than that weak ersatz copy that we have today where all that matters is the bottom line.

  • Sorry G – The response to my post was from Robert C Posted 21st December 2010 at 10:10 am and not yourself and I should have responded to him and not your good self. I’ll now go and have a cup of coffee lol.

  • @EcoJon – the prime difference is that what you did was to expose wrongdoing, criminality, or a breach of human rights. In each of these situations what you did was perfectly legitimate and the correct thing to do. This doesn’t even come close to falling into any of those categories, however.

    Public interest? Possibly, but to me it’s right up there in terms of public interest with who Ashley Cole is sleeping with now or the “secret arguments” going on behind the scenes at “The X Factor.” It’s not – or shouldn’t be – a surprise to find a Cabinet minister who disagrees with government policy. What should be a surprise is to find one who will admit to the disagreement and say that he’s prepared to resign if he sees it necessary. That, to me , is something to be praised, isn’t it?

  • @ EcoJon

    The very fact that you can compare entrapment of people involved in criminal activities and the Telegraph “scoop” shows just how much you are willing to twist things fit your contorted ideology. I too have worked as a journalist and what the Telegraph did was totally unethical. To say they were exposing crime is simply a lie.

    Just because someone is forced by financial reality (i.e. there is no more money to spend, as demonstrated amply by the latest record government deficit figures issued today) to change policies does not make them a criminal. Hypocritically pretending there is unlimited money and irresponsibly denying the need for cuts like Ed Miliband and Labour are now doing is a far worse offence.

  • @ KL

    “Public interest? Possibly, but to me it’s right up there in terms of public interest with who Ashley Cole is sleeping with now or the “secret arguments” going on behind the scenes at “The X Factor.” ”

    Oh, purleez! Spare us your faux outrage! You are being disingenuous. Of COURSE there is a public interest – Cable is being shown not only to have bad judgement, but also being a humbug. He doesn’t actually believe in much of what he is doing, but is quite happy to try and justify his supine acceptance of Coalition policy by telling what he believed were young activists what he probably felt they wanted to hear.

    I’m not sure what is more nauseating, his ability to be so two faced, or his lack of courage to actually be open about his misgivings and do something about them.

    No wonder people are deserting you in droves; you are little better than New Labour or the tories under all the rhetoric.

  • @Tim 21st December 2010 at 9:24 am who stated: ‘It’s sadly ironic that probably the worst thought out of all of the policies the coalition has implemented is the one on university funding.’

    I’m afraid Tim that you have totally missed the point on university funding. It is probably one of the the most thought-through Tory policies because at its heart is the full-blooded privatisation of our university education system so that Cameron’s pals can set up alternatives to current universities which I think will be poor substitutes but which will generate enormous profits for the shareholders.

    Is there anything wrong with profit – well in some cases there is and if it means a possibly destructive change in a world-recognised system for purely private gain then this is one of the cases.

    I have said here and in various other places that too many people and I include Cable in this got totally lost in the nuts and bolts of tuition fees and a progressive repayment system when the real issue was the government taking initial giant steps to walk away from public funding of unis and putting the sole cost of teaching on the shoulders of students.

    The principled debate that should have been held was lost in smoke and mirrors of statistics and inadequate information and I am sure our unis will be terribly damaged by the change. It’s interesting to hear the squeals now coming from those in the uni sector who only the other week were supporting the tuition fees increase.

  • Grant Williams 21st Dec '10 - 11:15am

    I can understand Vince’s embarassment. When I was a district councillor back in the 1990s, there were three years when we had a hung council. That led to a minority Conservative administration, not quite a coalition but with agreements between the parties on various matters. There were times when it was quite tough, and it is not unusual to have arguments within a party and with partners from other parties. You’re not going to agree on everything, and sometimes you have to be quite firm about where your particular “red lines” are drawn.

    Equally, you have to retain a degree of flexibility, and Vince is quite right when he says that he has to pick his battles carefully.

    Coalition government is not easy, but in a sense given the histories and make-ups of all parties, even majority government is a kind of coalition government.

    The print media in particular seem to expect that governments of all kinds will be completely loved-up, without dissent, debate or critical comment. Unity is not always everything, sometimes you need to have a bit of an argument, if only to show how strongly part of a party or one part of a coalition feels about something. Without debate, how on earth does policy more on, and how, in the words of Harold Macmillan, do you respond to events, dear boy?

    Just as it is important to take hard steps at the start of the administration, equally it is important to define boundaries, and for ones partners to know that if they want to push too far, or expect docility at all times, they are in for some disappointment and maybe harsh words.

    If there was a coalition riven by disagreement, paralysed and unable to govern then the Telegraph article might have had more value.

    Vince, at worst you were indiscreet. Stuff happens. We’ll get over it, and so will the Tories. As for the “undercover” nature of the journalism, I guess it’s something we’re just going to have to get used to.

  • Grant Williams 21st Dec '10 - 11:17am

    CORRECTION – in my last comment it should read “how on earth does policy MOVE on” rather than “more on”.

    I guess I’m the moron for not checking before I submitted.

    TELEGRAPH EXCLUSIVE – former Lib Dem councillor admits to being a moron! Earth begins to shatter….

  • @KL
    “In any case, is it not just refreshing to hear a Cabinet minister day “if there’s a policy introduced which I don’t like, then I’ll resign” rather than just swallowing hard and publicly supporting it while all the time trying to kill it behind the scenes (a la Gordon Brown?)”

    But he hasn’t been saying it publically. In public he is all smiles and love for the coalition and it’s policies. It would be refreshing if had the integrity to tell the truth. Therefore to use your words just like Brown he is “publicly supporting it while all the time trying to kill it behind the scenes”.

  • @Galen10 – “He doesn’t actually believe in much of what he is doing, but is quite happy to try and justify his supine acceptance of Coalition policy by telling what he believed were young activists what he probably felt they wanted to hear.”

    Ed Miliband, 28th September 2010 – “I do believe we were wrong. Wrong to take Britain into war [in Iraq] and we need to be honest about that.”

    Prior to 2005, Ed Miliband worked for Gordon Brown. if I had gone to Miliband’s surgery between 2005 and 2010 and asked him “Were we wrong to have gone to war in Iraq?” would he have given me the answer above?


    Did Ed Miliband ever, during the 2005 parliament, express his true views on the Iraq war (assuming the above is is true view, and not a politically opportunistic one?)


    What’s worse – hiding your true thoughts to all but your very closest allies, or being prepared to tell strangers who visit your surgery what you really think?

  • @Robert C Posted 21st December 2010 at 10:59 am

    My My Robert – the DT ‘scoop’ certainly appears to have upset you. Please don’t twist my words Robert and give them a meaning that is incorrect and highly misleading.

    As you have been a journalist too I trust you are interested in fact so let’s remember what you said which was: ‘It was information obtained by deception. How precisely is that supposed to be OK? If someone tricks their way into your office under a false identity and steals information from you, that would be a crime. There was nothing legitimate about it. It is utterly disgusting. These reporters should be sacked.’

    Ecojon responding said: ‘There was no crime here – deception is a routine tool employed by all investigative journalists and even reporters and I am surprised that with you having a journalistic background that you seem unaware of this. Indeed it appears that the deception level in this case was absolutely minimal and any suss politician would have been much more circumspect in their responses.

    There was nothing stolen – in fact it looks at though the journos would be worried their tape was running out with the amount Vince was willingly spouting,

    ‘Some people, depending on their personal viewpoint may find deception disgusting in certain circumstances, but journalists have to try and be professional and not let personal emotions colour their actions.

    ‘It is obvious you personally have been strongly affected by this but I really don’t think that it excuses your call to have the two reporters sacked and I have little respect for those who call for others to be sacked for doing their job whether you personally happen to agree with it or not.

    ‘I also take great exception to your comment that I am willing to ‘twist things’ to fit my ‘contorted ideology’. Strange that someone who has been a journalist would come out with such a personalised attack on someone merely expressing an ideology-free opinion. I have another post ‘under moderation’ which I think would show that I have respect and sympathy for Cable but quite frankly reached the conclusion prior to the latest situation that he was not up to his job.

    ‘If you think a crime has taken place then report the matter to the police. If you think the DT have breached the PCC code then make a complaint. You can also make a complaint under the DT ‘house’ Code of Conduct. I would suggest these are appropriate actions but personalised attacks on people making a comment which you don’t agree to is quite sad, especially from someone who says he has journalistic experience but appears to have remembered nothing about professional detachment being key to success in the profession as well as creating good journalism.’

  • Principal asset to major liability in six short months. Such a shame.

  • Well done Vince!

  • @Steve Way: “But he hasn’t been saying it publically.”

    And what would have happened if he had? Exactly the same as happened this morning.

    At least he was prepared to say it in (what he thought was) a private meeting. And Vince certainly hasn’t been all smiles and love for the Coalition.

  • This is positively staggering.

    As a constituent of Vince Cable’s, I’ve been in fairly regular contact with him (particularly post Coalition) and he’s never, not once sought to have a heart to heart with me and I’ve known him for ages.

    This was a pretty shitty thing to do, the open relationship between an MP and their constituents is something that should be respected, not exploited. This is likely to dent that relationship in some way making MPs suspicious of constituents.

    Anyway, there must be many LibDem ministers who feel the same way – I believe the economically right wing brigade to be a small minority.

  • @ KL Posted 21st December 2010 at 11:39 am who said: ‘What’s worse – hiding your true thoughts to all but your very closest allies, or being prepared to tell strangers who visit your surgery what you really think?’

    I would draw KL’s attention to the post by Chris Squire Posted 21st December 2010 at 9:14 am who said: ‘As member of his team of activists here in Twickenham, I feel somewhat miffed that he has been considerably franker to a couple of strangers than he was to us at our LP AGM earlier in the month.’

    On a wider note KL I wonder whether you think if the DT had gone to Milliband’s surgery as you posed whether this would have been an acceptable deception or not. In any case my understanding on Milliband’s position on Iraq was that he changed his mind over time and to me that is generally a good quality in any human being who can admit getting things wrong.

    I also don’t remember the DT being slated for running selected out-of-context portions of private NUS emails to Cable’s office on tuition fees which Aaron Porter stated on TV was leaked by a special advisor to Cable and named the individual. This was a cynical attempt to use the media and perhaps the DT who only, according to Porter, got an edited version of the emails has decided to teach Cable a lesson for duping them.

    I’m afraid that’s what newspapers do – is it an abuse of power or merely an acceptable warning-shot to politicians deluded enough to think they can actually control newspaper stories using spin and dubious methods. I note no investigation appears to have been carried out into this leak by Cable’s department and haven’t noticed any apology given to the NUS or Porter.

  • The LibDems in government have forgotten who they represent. Of course the public have a right to know that they are being railroaded into implementing Tory policies and are having no effect in government. Vince has voiced concerns about the ideological rush into implementing policies without proper considerations and analyses. That the LibDems are supporting this destruction of our Education System, the NHS etc. and not coming out of this Coalition suggests that Clegg et al are only in it for themselves. We always thought it but this DT exposure has proved we were right.

  • @KL
    “At least he was prepared to say it in (what he thought was) a private meeting.”

    And so was Brown, so again it negates your point.

    Regarding Milliband and Iraq. He has stated that he now believes Iraq was wrong, not that it was wrong to have made the decision with the information available at the time. I don’t agree with his points just pointing out the difference. Cable is acting as a cheerleader for the coalition, he has openly supported the Child Benefit cuts and other issues he has now privately disagreed with.

    Collective responsibility of cabinet is not an excuse. It is acceptable to disagree with a policy publically but to still be bound by the collective agreement (unless of course it is felt serious enough to warrent resignation). It is dishonest to publically praise that which you dissaprove.

    Surely plural politics is about being adult enough to disagree but to accept there is compromise.

  • What strikes me about this affair is Cable’s isolation and evident frustration, which has led him to blab to strangers. I guess this has much to do with Cable’s rather individual views, which can’t be neatly pigeonholed as either orange-book or social-liberal, and which (fatally) include a genuine belief that students should pay fees. So, whereas our social-liberals held together fairly well and made a principled stand (which, if unsuccessful, at least didn’t pass un-noticed), Cable was left on his own to smoulder.

    Cable’s “nuclear option” is, I fear, vanishing in front of his eyes. A lone resignation over a single issue such as bank bonuses could simply be met with a brutal “very sorry to lose you, but bye, your replacement wil be an orange-book clone, now face the music and dance.”

    Time for some home truths. The tuition fees issue has clearly been treated, by Cameron and probably by Clegg too, as a rite of passage for the Coalition. Swallowing a tripling of fees was a kind of primitive tribal initiation ceremony for the Lib Dems, after which the partners are truly bonded in blood. That insultingly high figure of £9K, along with the threadbare excuse about “exceptional” circumstances, was not an accident. it was there to rub our noses in defeat, and to make it psychologically harder for anyone to go for the “nuclear option”.

    Had the Coalition concept been a more genuine partnership, the story would not have played out that way. In all probability, there would have been a big public battle (either real or staged), at the end of which the Tories would have won their fees increase, while the Lib Dems would have been able to point to substantial concessions gained, the obvious option being the abandonment of the “exceptional” £9K and its replacement by a rigid cap at £6K or less. That wouldn’t have left us smelling of roses, but it also wouldn’t have left us stinking of manure.

    But it isn’t like that. It is an ambitious, radical, right-wing five-year plan, described by Clegg as “Maoist” presumably because that reference actually makes it sound better than it really is. It is being driven through by Cameron and Clegg with single-minded ruthlessness, and they are winning. Hence Cable’s frustration.

    There are two ways this can go. We can watch as our poll figures go on sliding and our orange-bookers get gradually absorbed into the Greater Conservative movement, and leave it to Ed Miliband to find a voice of opposition. Or we can ask Cable to abandon his isolation, we can ask Huhne to look beyond his energy remit, and we can prepare to challenge our leadership from within. Soon.

  • EcoJon is pretty much spot on with anything.

    He is obviously toeing the ‘coalition line’ in parliament and in public but holds different opinions in private; without an expose’ you will never fully understand the views of arl Vincent.

    Here’s to more exposes’ and to the death of the coalition; it’s about time you apologists recognise that the glory associated with Government responsibility isn’t worth the political values you once held.

  • I can’t help but see many parallels with the Wikileaks situation.

    Information is obtained about Vince Cable surreptitiously, and then he gets put under pressure to make a statement in response to the revelation.

    Information is obtained about the US Government surreptitiously, and Julian Assange gets put under pressure to justify publishing the information.

    This is not consistent. The BBC interviewed Julian Assange at length this morning on Radio4. Shouldn’t they be interviewing the two undercover Telegraph reporters?

    Wikileaks have greater justification than the Telegraph.

    The “high-tech terrorist” is only the publisher; the information was passed onto him/his organisation. The Daily Telegraph, on the other hand, mounted this operation themselves – and published it.

  • This is a good news story for us in my opinion, but why on earth did he apologise? If he belives what he said, and i suspect he does then he should be a man and stand by what he said, he would gain more respect for doing so wouldn’t he?
    Surely any intelligent person will know that the Coalition has and will continue to have ‘Battles’ within it, ‘Wars’ if you like but if we really do want ‘New Politics’ if we trully believe in ‘Open’ government then we need more of this, and not in private but out in the open. It does not mean the Coalition has to fall because Vince or any other LD minister openly challenges what the Tories want to do does it? It shows the electorate that Coalition is about compromise and fighting your corner, lets see the battles, lets hear the debates in public!
    I do however want the party to publicise the lines they will not cross and to genuinely mean them 100%. I want to know exactly what our party will not countenance. The Fees mess has lefty a nasty taste in the mouth of many people i persauded to vote LD and a definate lack of trust, not because of the actual policy that the coalition has introduced but because of the damned pledge, we must draw our ‘Red Lines’ and we MUST stick to them if we are to regain that trust and remove the bad taste left.

  • @ Matt
    “To be honest, I am quite looking forward to the revelations that will be exposed by the Telegraph”

    Yes, so am I, because it will shut up Labourites like you who are spreading lies about the Lib Dems being crypto-Tories.

    “What the Telegraph has exposed through Vince Cable, is proof in my opinion that plural politics isn’t working and the Liberal Democrats are being railroaded by the Tories”

    No Matt, what it actually shows is the opposite: that Lib Dems ARE fighting their corner.

  • @James

    “EcoJon is pretty much spot on with anything.”

    He is spot on with precisely nothing. He is just trying to defend journalists obtaining information by deception and abusing what was meant to be a private and confidential meeting between an MP and his constituents.

    This whole thing is a stitch up by the Telegraph’s owners the Barclay brothers because they fear Cable might attack tax exiles like themselves. Yet Labour supporters are queueing up to support them.

  • @ David Allen

    “But it isn’t like that. It is an ambitious, radical, right-wing five-year plan”

    ….to bring public spending as a share of GDP down to exactly where it was in 2006/07 under Gordon Brown.

    What part of that is an “ambitious right wing plan, exactly? You bunch are convinced that if you repeat your conspiracy theories often enough, some poor fools might start to believe you rather than actually looking at the facts. 40% of GDP is higher spending than under Blair’s first term, FYI. Unfortunately, so far, some people have been taken in by this.

  • @RobertC
    “No Matt, what it actually shows is the opposite: that Lib Dems ARE fighting their corner.”

    If that’s the case (and I hope it is), presumably they’re losing?

  • David Allen 21st Dec '10 - 2:12pm

    Robert C,

    The public spending “statistic” you quote is deliberately misleading. In 2006 GDP was huge due to the bubble. In 2010 GDP has collapsed due to the inverse bubble. So 40% of 2006 is a lot more than 40% of 2010. It was a private sector boom and bust. It is private consumption rather than e.g. schools which should take the main brunt of the boom and bust.

    That said, the deficit does need to be cut, though not at a deliberately excessive rate which meets ideological needs more than real needs. It is the so-called “Maoist” private sector driven revolution, and the “shock and awe” tactics being used to drive it through, which are the greatest threat.

  • Foregone Conclusion 21st Dec '10 - 2:23pm

    I don’t know if anyone’s already said this… but I agree with Vince.

  • I recommend people here read the transcript (link below) of what Vince said rather than the at times misleading write-up. I think most Lib Dem supporters will, like me, find it broadly reassuring that he is strongly pressing the Lib Dem case on a lot of issues within government. Of course Vince has some concerns – does anyone really think he wouldn’t? Every government has internal battles which mostly stay hidden but sometimes spill out through leaks or indiscretion. It would be surprising if a coalition didn’t have more than its fair share.

    Vince probably shouldn’t have been quite so indiscreet to a constituent he didn’t know well, and it will probably hinder ministerial relations, so overall it was probably unwise. But ‘Lib Dem minister privately (in theory) admits concerns about some Tory-inspired government policies to worried Lib Dem supporter’ is hardly the stuff of which scandal is made!

    Incidentally, following up Chris Squire’s post, I was also at the AGM in Teddington and thought Vince was reasonably candid in what he said about how the coalition was working and areas where he was pressing the Government, but just rather more coded (not surprising given the audience of 50 or 60 people).

  • Robert C,

    Did either Brown or Blair throw £500,000 public sector workers out of their jobs?

    Brown and Blair did many awful things, but create mass unemployment isn’t one of them.

    The fact that Liberal Democrats are helping the Tories do this really does make me fume with rage. It isn’t what I voted for. It isn’t what I campaigned for. In fact, it is the exact opposite of both.

    Come on, Vince. Stick the knife into Clegg and be done with it.

  • coldcomfort 21st Dec '10 - 2:32pm

    The torrent of words commenting on this non-story demonstrate yet again how alien the concept of true democracy is to this country. I would fervently hope that the LibDems & Tories in Government do go at it hammer & tongs when debating issues & policies. That doesn’t mean to say that there is any lack of mutual respect, or that the coalition is about to fall, or that ‘working well together’ is a lie, much as the many wishful thinkers pray that were true. For decades this country has been brought to its knees by ‘Government by Clique’ and the rest of Parliament being whipped to do what the Party says. Hooray for ‘spats’ public or private.

  • @matt – it’s quite an easy report for the DT to write really. All they need to do is speak to a number of Lib Dem activists who will quite freely talk about concerns over policy – in fact, they don’t even need to look much further than this website to get their info!

    @Ecojon – had the situation been reversed I’d be pretty sure I’d think the same thing. To me, there’s two issues here – firstly, Vince’s views on the coalition, and secondly using fake identity to abuse an MP’s surgery. Vince’s views could indeed be said to be of public interest – though how much I’m not sure – but a politician’s surgery relies on the confidentiality of the matters discussed. If a politican fears that his comments may be repeated outside the room, it will make the job much more difficult – for example, a Government MP dealing with a query on housing benefit or overpayment of tax credits, something which happens very frequently. Likewise, for people attending the surgeries, if they have a concern that a journalist is in the room it may make them more reluctant to attend in the future.

    I’m glad he’s said what he did though, don’t get me wrong – it’s how it’s come out that bothers me.

  • David Allen 21st Dec '10 - 3:09pm

    “a politician’s surgery relies on the confidentiality of the matters discussed”

    Why don’t MPs make their consultees sign a quick chitty agreeing that the discussion is indeed confidential and is not to be disclosed except with the MP’s agreement? A sensible precaution?

  • @David Allen Posted 21st December 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    “a politician’s surgery relies on the confidentiality of the matters discussed”

    Why don’t MPs make their consultees sign a quick chitty agreeing that the discussion is indeed confidential and is not to be disclosed except with the MP’s agreement? A sensible precaution?.

    Ecojon commented – well if you live in a didctatorshp it might be a sdensible suggestion. Is this what LibDems have actually come to to support coalition politics.

    It looks as though it is all over for Vince anyway with his extraordinary attack on Murdoch. I have little time for Murdoch and picketed at Wapping and have never changed my mind about him. But Cable spilling the beans to a couple of giggling females on issue which he is involved with in a statutory capacity is unbelieveable.

  • coldcomfort 21st Dec '10 - 3:29pm

    Just broken on the News, (isn’t the timing fascinating just as the Clegg/Cameron News Conference ends – one of those accidents that is carefully stage managed?), Cable said that he and Murdoch were at war ( thank God someone is) & that the whole Murdoch Empire is under threat. I fear that Vince will now be sacrificed – a victim of his own basic honesty and ignorance of how really serious power makes sure it protects its own interests. If you are going to take on such people you really do have to keep quiet about it. I do hope nobody is deluded enough to believe that real power rests with the Prime Minister and our elected representatives.


    This now turns him from a fool into a dangerous fool.

    He acts in a quasi judicial role in these matters and has now completely broken the integrity of his office. You cannot tell others you are “declaring war” on someone who’s business practice you have to judge on. News Corporation will have no problem establishing his impartiality is suspect. The really stupid thing is he’s right to take issue with them.

    His position is now untenable.

  • @coldcomfort – and that revelation makes me like him even more!

    I actually think that, if Cable doesn’t want to resign, then this will actually make him more difficult to remove. Nothing he’s said thus far will worry the majority of Lib Dems, who I reckon agree with him, and if Clegg did sack him (because he would make the decision) then it leaves a major rallying point for most Lib Dems on the back benches, more so than Simon Hughes or Charles Kennedy. As his role is quasi-judicial, there will have to be a “fall back” should the role holder have an interest (for example if Vince was a BSkyB shareholder.) I would imagine that this will kick into action now.

    @Ecojon – while I understand David Allen’s view, I actually agree with you on this. A chitty wouldn’t work – the whole system of surgeries relies on unwritten understandings and if it was formalised would simply fall apart.

  • Looks like Cable will be able to spend more time polishing his dance technique than he could have wished.

  • @ coldcomfort

    Couldn’t agree more with what you say. If you cross the real wielders of power in Britain they grind you into dust and this is what will happen to Vince.

    But, to be honest, he was so naieve on the tape with a background of girls giggling encouragement to him to reveal all, that actually questions his fitness to hold high office. He will resign this afternoon – there is no other option. Sad but that’s how it goes in the dark corridors of power.

  • @KL

    Vince is actually too honourable to wait and be sacked and trust me – if need be Cameron will sack him. But Vince will go voluntarily.

    I don’t think he will be a focus of opposition on the back benches because of the tuition fees issue. I think he will be very isolated and it’s a sad end which I wouldn’t have wished on a personal level.

  • Tucked away at the bottom of the BBC website about Vince Cablegate, was this:

    “The BBC understands that several other leading Lib Dems, including health minister Paul Burstow, have also been approached by undercover reporters.”

    Does this mean there’s more to come?

  • @EcoJon – you’re probably right on that.

    But there is a big difference between the views of backbench Lib Dem MPs and the views of the party membership at large that’s never really been investigated by the media. It kind of stems from Charles Kennedy’s forced resignation, and the way that was conducted – remember, Lib Dem leaders are voted for by the membership. If Cable is sacked or resigns, it’s inevitable that the membership will look to him as someone who it can rally to, whether he likes it or not.

    Laws can’t come back yet (assuming he wants to) because the ruling on his expenses still hasn’t been published. And if he did, I do think it would cause more trouble now than his original appointment, given he’s made it clear how much closer he is to the Tories on financial policy.

  • @RichardSM – the Telegraph does say as much in its own report.

  • The Telegraph does have motive in publishing this, of course. It has never been comfortable with coalition – what it wanted was an outright Tory victory. So what it’s trying to do is force a collapse of the coalition, with the ensuing General Election before the AV referendum can take place, which – based on current polls – would give the Tories a nice comfortable victory.

    Murdoch isn’t the only major newspaper publisher intent on corrupting the political system for his own ends.

  • David Allen 21st Dec '10 - 4:05pm

    Oh b*gg*r! Murdoch will be over the moon. Cable looks like toast. You can’t make an “impartial” judgment when you have declared bias.

    I wonder, is it possible that the “whistleblower” who conveniently found some extra material in the transcript that the DT had somehow left out might be playing a dirty game for Murdoch?

  • It’s strange but I go back to the selective leaking of bits of the NUS/Porter emails to Vince Cable’s office re tuition fees.

    Porter named the Cable special advisor who leaked the confidential correspondence and I wondered at the time how anyone could have confidence in dealing with Cable when bits of their emails, which supported Cable’s position, would be leaked to the media.

    No call for an investigation into the leaks and apparently nothing dome to discipline the special advisor by Cable.

    It really made me doubt his conception of fairness, impartiality and propriety.

  • I’m disappointed by VC’s naivety, having heard the tapes on the BBC. However I’m SHOCKED, but not surprised at how quickly the Labour Party has jumped to Rupert Murdoch’s defence.

    I also think we’re getting a lot of nonsense talked about impartiality of ministers. Does anyone seriously believe that any Minister with such a role can set aside personal and party views when taking such decisions?

  • Man on the Bus 21st Dec '10 - 4:09pm

    “Likening the conflict to a war, he says he can always use the “nuclear option” of resignation.”

    Looking more like a suicide bombing …

  • Nick (not Clegg) 21st Dec '10 - 4:10pm

    Vince has since apologised. Whatever for?

    Was he ordered to do so, by Clegg, in order to placate Cameron?

  • @David Allen Posted 21st December 2010 at 4:05 pm

    David – the DT didn’t just find this bit – in time-honoured fashion held a goodie back. They waited till after the Clegg/Cameron Press Conference to see what would come out from them.

    When it looked as though they were going to hunker-down and try and ride it out, then they released the blockbuster and they obviously have plenty more. I would imagine they have enough for another 3-5 stories on other LibDems with possibly a token Tory thrown in for ‘balance’.

  • “Did either Brown or Blair throw 500,000 public sector workers out of their jobs?”

    No, but they did:

    1) Get us involved in two vastly costly and useless wars;
    2) Let public spending rip, with no regard to later consequences in terms of the impact on the deficit.
    3) Waste vast amounts of the money they spent by recruiting, alongside the worthwhile and valid nurses, doctors, teachers etc. large numbers of workers who create little public benefit.

    Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe public spending is a good thing, but only under two clear conditions:

    1) The money is spent efficiently on projects of clear public benefit;
    2) What is spent is roughly equal to what is raised in taxes.

    On both these counts, Labour failed.

    @ Matt,

    “You bunch” are the ones who maintain that the need to bring down the share of public spending to what it was under Gordon Brown is some kind of neo-con conspiracy rather than just the difficult but inevitable choice taken in order to ensure our public debt doesn’t get out of control.

    @ David Allen

    They’re not talking about 40% of 2010 GDP. They are talking about GDP in 2014-15, when the economy will be larger than in 2006, so your point is wrong.

  • @matt I’m listening to (some hypocrisy) from John Denham on this now

  • @matt – so the Telegraph would throw into doubt the position in Government of the party it supports to potentially throw one Lib Dem to the wolves – and in the process give support to many, many Lib Dem voters who think exactly the same way Vince does? Newspapers don’t do anything without motive, so where is it?

  • I think at least that we can all now accept that the deception by the journos was most definitely in the public interest.

    What you have to remember is that it was highly unlikely that the journos went cold-calling. There is every possibility that they knew exactly what buttons to push because they had received prior info. I would be amazed if this didn’t happen.

    On that basis they would also have similar type of info on their other ‘targets’. So the question exists – who did the briefing/leaking. Was it the Tories or disaffected LibDems and, if so, at what level.

  • Obviously the owners of the Telegraph, the Barclay brothers, have decided to have another go at the coalition.

    Does anyone here know of any matter being handled by Cable that would have had an impact on their affairs? Probably some kind of a crackdown on tax avoidance was being planned.

  • David Allen 21st Dec '10 - 4:28pm

    Robert C

    “They’re not talking about 40% of 2010 GDP. They are talking about GDP in 2014-15, when the economy will be larger than in 2006, so your point is wrong.”

    Who can know how the economy in 2014 will compare with 2006? It could be even smaller than 2010!

    If your point was correct, then the Coalition plan to retain public spending at 40% of GDP would mean a plan to increase public spending. Don’t tell me that that’s credible! This stuff about keeping public spending to 40% of GDP is just a fiddled statistic to make excessive cuts look better.

  • If this had been a Labour Minister he/she would have been crucified by the Press by now and their resignation demanded – that’s the way it is.

    I thought Denham played it with a straight bat. He doesn’t need to do any more as the story now has its own momentum.

    @KL who said: ‘Newspapers don’t do anything without motive, so where is it?’

    You know KL sometimes the motive is simply that it’s a good story. And this is a cracker. While everyone has been doing the boringggggggggg 12 month round-up, the DT has gone out there and thought it would be a good idea to do a series of cameos on what is the actual reality of coalition government.

    Yea there may be some political gain for it with the Tories but it could be it really is just a great news story done for buttons and which will obviously boost circulation and you can be sure NewsCorp will be banging the drum. Their share price has been falling since it came out so they’ll be looking for some form of financial/political ‘compensation’ from Cameron.

    Sorry but as a journo I’ve got to applaud the DT on this one no matter my personally jaundiced political view of them.

  • Man on the Bus 21st Dec '10 - 4:34pm

    BBC now has a live, automatically updating page entitled “Vince Cable under pressure”:

  • @Matt

    Absoulutely right – he could have survived a few comments about the coalition but sounding off on a subject where he had to look squeaky clean is just not on… I suspect he will resign by end of play.

  • @Robert C Posted 21st December 2010 at 4:23 pm who stated: Obviously the owners of the Telegraph, the Barclay brothers, have decided to have another go at the coalition. Does anyone here know of any matter being handled by Cable that would have had an impact on their affairs? Probably some kind of a crackdown on tax avoidance was being planned.’

    Ecojon said: If it’s tax avoidance your after or should I say tax management then perhaps you should start looking at the multi millionaires in the cabinet. Or could it be the banker bonus brigade?

    The Barclay Bros wouldn’t want rid of Cable who they know would support them against Murdoch so stop looking for a conspiracy with them which is a ludicrous non-starter. It almost certainly is just a great news scoop – nothing more and nothing less.

    I can’t believe that on TV Lord Razzal – LibDem peer – doesn’t think Cable’s comments bring his judgement into question. What planet are some of these Peers actually on. Maybe time for his Lordship to get a visit from DT reporters lol.

  • @ Robert C

    I should have said if you want to know what ‘dirt’ Vince has on the Barclay Bros why don’t you just give him a phone – doesn’t matter if you don’t know him – he’ll give you all the info anyway.

    That’s how sad this whole affair is – no conspiracy – just someone who couldn’t keep private matters private. Instead of looking for conspiracies, look at Vince and ask why he felt the need to impress these two unknown females so badly.

  • david clayton 21st Dec '10 - 4:54pm

    Clegg is right, Murdoch is a menace, but what poor judgement. So who next? The one whose finances were a bit dodgy of one of the many who don’t really agree with Nick. I am off on betfair – if this coalition makes it to the summer i am going to be poorer.

  • david clayton 21st Dec '10 - 4:55pm

    ahhh Cable not Clegg – sorry

  • @ Matt and EcoJon

    Just look at you Labourites queueing up to justify journalists obtaining information by deception, false identity and breach of confidence.

    If it was Ed Miliband who had been stitched up in this way, you would be crying blue murder.

    Yet because it does damage to an opponent, you conveniently seem to believe that the end justifies the means.

    @ David Allen

    They ARE planning to increase spending in cash terms. You have been hoodwinked by leftwing propaganda.

  • patricia roche 21st Dec '10 - 5:02pm

    so the saint has become a sinner. Perhaps laws will become a saint and replace him.

  • Who looks like Mr Bean now? Never mind, he can always find a job at the Arthur Murray school of dancing. What a shambles: travel chaos, U turns all over the place. Massive cuts that penalize taxpayers and workers by making them pay twice for the bankers’ greed; and ministerial gaffes that put the incident with Mrs Duffey completely in perspective. This Tory led coalition is rapidly degenerating into farce. But then it is the pantomime season! Come back Gordon Brown.

  • Man on the Bus 21st Dec '10 - 5:03pm
    “It looks like the “quad” (PM, DPM, George Osborne and Danny Alexander) with advisers are currently meeting in No. 10 to decide if Vince Cable must resign from the Cabinet.”

  • @ Robert C

    You don’t have to be a Labourite to justify it. I hate the Labour party almost as much as I hate the Torygraph – but I still think what they have done is in the public interest. Cable has been exposed as a self important, delusional fool who has very possibly harmed the chances of blocking the further advance of Murdoch’s interest by his naivete.

    I’d love it if Miliband got caught out the same way, or indeed any other politician who had started to believe his own PR and thought he was more important than he really is.

    The damage inflicted is entirely self-inflicted; people whingeing about it being deception, and breaching confidences are missing the point. However given the mess your party seems to have gotten itself into, this hardly a surprise to anyone, whether Labour, social democrat, liberal or Tory.

  • Man on the Bus 21st Dec '10 - 5:08pm

    “1706: International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has arrived in Downing Street, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reports.”

    Why mention that, unless he’s going to be Cabel’s replacement?

  • @ Robert C

    “If it was Ed Miliband who had been stitched up in this way, you would be crying blue murder.”

    People did scream blue murder when Gordon Brown was stitched up over Mrs Duffey but all that the Lib Dems and the Tories did was laugh!

  • @Robert C

    “If it was Ed Miliband who had been stitched up in this way, you would be crying blue murder”

    People did scream blue murder when Gordon Brown was stitched up over Mrs Duffey but all the Lib Dems and the Tories did was laugh.

  • Vince Cable is toast… and rightly so.

    Someone with judgement THIS bad shouldn’t be trusted with running a Church Fete, never mind deciding on weighty matters of state.

  • Paul McKeown 21st Dec '10 - 5:18pm

    I am very much saddened by this: I am a big fan of VC, but I can’t see how he can remain in position as Business Sec. There is a moral in this story, though, which is that the Barclay Brothers hate this coalition and will do anything to bring it down, force an election and with luck, as they see it, return a hardline Conservative government. In fact they would rather have a Labour government with a small, unsafe majority than this coalition, which threatens to neuter many of their favourite policies for a very long time. Every LD minister and MP is their prey.

  • david clayton 21st Dec '10 - 5:22pm

    this IS a hardline conservative government!

  • Man on the Bus 21st Dec '10 - 5:23pm

    “1721: Former Lib Dem communications chief Mark Littlewood says it is doubtful that Vince Cable will remain as business secretary. He may be shuffled into another ministerial role, he adds. But Mr Cable is not “easily dispensable”, as he represents the social democratic wing of the Lib Dems in government, Mr Littlewood says.”

    You’ve got to laugh.

  • If VC is pushed out, then Gove must also go, given his recent U-turn, errors and general bad judgement, which are all going to have a far more negative impact on real people.

  • Given current polling and they way people feel about both parties in the Coalition, a slim Labour majority is at least as likely as the scenario you talk about. Much as I hated New Labour, I’m not sure that would be any worse than what we have now!

    Perhaps the LD’s ought to thinking about their exit strategy…?

  • david clayton 21st Dec '10 - 5:28pm

    The Lib Dems were the party banging on about a new honest politics in the last election – an end to lies etc. You have no grounds to complain when journalists start to do the things they are meant to do – find things out. The more openness the better. Stop slagging the journalists and start to look at the weaknesses in your (and others) party leaderships.

  • @david clayton. Nice one. It”s all beginning to fall apart. Bye Bye Vince.

  • Of course there were thousands of students and parents like me who voted Lib dem who would have felt sad over his troubles had he not ignored his promises, so i have zero sympathy.

    As for the howls of protest supporting Cable, imagine how you would have acted this time last year if a Mandleson had been caught “declaring war” when he held the quasi judicial role. I would have expected him to resign and I expect nothing less from Cable. Still I expected him to keep the pledge so I guess with his current level of integrity he may stay…….

    As for it being a Telegraph bid to bring down the coalition, possibly but not on the News Corp issue. They wanted the judgement to go against News Corp that’s why they edited the original “full” transcript.

    I think it’s going to be a tough Christmas for Lib Dem MP’s.

  • david clayton 21st Dec '10 - 5:32pm

    I am sure we wouldn’t have him. We have plenty of our own self important careerists

  • Apparently he will not resign, not a shred of integrity left…..

  • David Allen 21st Dec '10 - 5:46pm

    Robert C:

    “They ARE planning to increase spending in cash terms.”

    Care to tell us what the cut is in real terms? Or how the deficit can be presented both as a massive mountain (when you’re blaming Labour for it) and as something that can be eliminated with a spending increase (when you’re defending coalition policies)?

  • Man on the Bus 21st Dec '10 - 5:47pm


  • Responsibility for Murdoch decision to go to Culture Department. Presumably they will be able to take the right decision 😉

  • Cable not to resign – his dept greatly diminished – Hunt put in charge of decision on BSkyB – Cameron’s Christmas has come all at once – the once great Cable cant even fall on is sword – I have no sympathy whatsoever for him.

  • A Minister makes himself incapable of fulfilling his whole duties and stays in office, it’s the Blair years all over again.

    The Lib Dem leadership are turning to three past PM’s for guidance……..

    Thatcher for policy, Major for discipline and Blair for integrity.

    Next May they plan to turn to Brown for tips on popularity and winning elections

  • Foregone Conclusion 21st Dec '10 - 5:57pm

    “Vince Cable will stay on as business secretary, but all responsibility for the BSkyB takeover and other such media deals will go to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the BBC is told.”

    A good compromise, really. It would have been impossible for Vince to make the judgement after what he’d said about BSkyB (which was wrong), but I think that the government and the country would be poorly served by his resignation now that the decision’s been taken out of his hands.

  • @Foregone Conclusion

    I would say it’s a foregone conclusion that Vince will be moved aside by the end of January. He’s a lame-duck and can’t go on as he has no credibility.

    The bankers will be laughing their head off and I think the bonuses are safe.

    Cameron is letting him stay for now to slowly roast him before he’s chucked. And the Tories, at all levels, will be furious and putting pressure on Cameron,

    And at the end of the day the decision on Murdoch now goes to a Tory – well whadda u know lol.

  • Cameron should have been decisive and sacked Cable. It shows what a weak Prime Minister Cameron is. Cable should do the decent thing and fall on his sword as he is Business Secretary now in name only. Still, it gives him extra time to brush up on his routine for Strictly Come Dancing. Total humiliation! Cable has gone in just a few short months from John Maynard Keynes to Mr Pastry.

  • Man on the Bus 21st Dec '10 - 6:20pm

    “Still, it gives him extra time to brush up on his routine for Strictly Come Dancing. Total humiliation! Cable has gone in just a few short months from John Maynard Keynes to Mr Pastry.”

    Sneak preview of the Strictly Come Dancing routine

  • @ matt

    I think we’ve already established that yer died in the wool LD’s have a huge capacity for self-delusion; their initial concern was how nasty the Torygraph was for being nasty to poor old Uncle Vince!

    Cable’s bluster has been exposed for what it was; so much hot air. In the meantime, he has weakened his party further and strengthened Cameron’s hand, and exposed the already unconvincing argument that the LD’s could moderate Tory policy. They haven’t done so to any meaningful extent, and are even less likely to manage it now.

    If Vince had any shame he would resign…… but I’m not holding my breath.

  • @ Man on the Bus
    “Sneak preview of the Strictly Come Dancing routine”

    Many thanks. Hilarious. I must be psychic!

  • David Allen 21st Dec '10 - 6:52pm

    “Someone with judgement THIS bad shouldn’t be trusted with running a Church Fete”

    Can we just have a little bit of balance and humanity please? Tony Blair’s judgment was bad enough to use deceit and cause mass slaughter, but he didn’t resign. Many MPs have blatantly milked the system, and very few have resigned. Cable made a very stupid mistake, but it wasn’t deceitful, venal, or corrupt. He merely got conned too easily. He will be lucky to survive in the longer term, and he hasn’t had a great ministerial career, but he also doesn’t deserve to go from hero to zero.

  • @Steve Way

    “The Lib Dem leadership are turning to three past PM’s for guidance……..
    Thatcher for policy, Major for discipline and Blair for integrity.”

    Also Heath for judgment and Alec Douglas-Home for competence!

  • He now will have to take the lead on the remainder of the tuition fees debates. How many times will Labour (and maybe Tory) MP’s use the phrase “declare war” in those ?

    How long before the next non media business challenges his independence ?

    He will look increasingly like the lame duck that he is. I don’t think his nuclear option is much of a deterent now, more of a rained off fireworks party……

    When he finally goes it will not bring down the coalition, it probably won’t even make top billing on the news.

    He’s finished.

  • Jeremy Hunt on Murdoch (

    “The important thing is not whether a particular owner owns another TV channel but to make sure you have a variety of owners with a variety of TV channels so that no one owner has a dominant position both commercially and politically.

    “Rather than worry about Rupert Murdoch owning another TV channel, what we should recognise is that he has probably done more to create variety and choice in British TV than any other single person because of his huge investment in setting up Sky TV which, at one point, was losing several million pounds a day.

    “We would be the poorer and wouldn’t be saying that British TV is the envy of the world if it hadn’t been for him being prepared to take that commercial risk. We need to encourage that kind of investment.”

    Presumably Cameron will have to find another Minister to take the decision.

  • In the ‘cold light of day’ I think Cameron and Clegg will be loathed to sack Cable. It has been said that Vince Cable is the standard-bearer for the Social Democratic part (the majority) of the LibDems, I agree with that anlysis. I think that If Vince was sacked he would be potentially lethal to the Con-Lib arrangement as a leader for the “left leaning” part of the LibDems, the part that included me at the last election and the part that Clegg dislikes. One way or another it will all fall apart.

  • @ David Allen

    “Can we just have a little bit of balance and humanity please?”

    I’m afraid hero to zero is exactly the track he has taken, tho doubtless his mate Nick can give him plenty of tips about the journey. Bad judgement on this scale is reason enough to wonder if he’s really up to the job; comparison with other offenders doesn’t mitigate his manifest unsuitability.

    I would argue he has been deceitful, but worse he lacks both the political “smarts” and the courage to actually come out and say what he really thought when it might have made more of a difference.

    All he has achieved now is a further weakening of his party, a strengthening of Murdoch, and a filip for Cameron.

  • It’s totally unacceptable for Cameron to give responsibility for the Murdoch deal to a known admirer of Murdoch, as raised by Donald, and if your party has any backbone it will say as much. From a European friend.

  • @ edward

    “………and if your party has any backbone it will say as much”

    Hahahahahahahahha….. you are a day late and a dollar short I fear.

  • Patrick Smith 21st Dec '10 - 8:13pm

    The Telegraph `honey trap’ in Twickenham will probably result in new realism for our `die-hards’ and will actually help to swing the voters towards the excellent L/D candidate in Oldham East and Saddleworth.

    I rate Vince Cable very highly and the lynchpin L/D Minister and would like to see him to play a major role in Cabinet over the full term of the 5 year `Coalition Agreement’ Parliament.

    The Telegraph has done the nation a public duty by exposing the venality of the `MPs Expenses’ scandal but now every Minister will be on their guard to spot a fake constituent wearing mascara and concealed recorder working undercover at their local Surgeries.

    Is `nt there a wider public interest question to be tackled by the Press Council as to whether this sort of ` honey trap’ is acceptable media practice, with sole intent to trigger a `news story’ by covertous means in an MP`s Surgery?.

  • @ Steve Way
    When he finally goes it will not bring down the coalition, it probably won’t even make top billing on the news.

    He’s finished.

    But if he is will he not take his revenge on the backbenches? Is that why he is still in place? I am wondering whether he is playing a game here, after all he IS a politician. Personally I believe that the coalition is unfit to govern and is full of incompetents.

  • Vince was at least prepared to stand up to Murdoch.

    Labour supporters can wake us all when blank sheet Miliband has a policy on Murdoch that isn’t the same fawning capitulation of his hopeless incompetent predecessors Brown and Blair. Or when Ed son of Brown has a policy on anything.

  • Some councillor wrote about “the confidentiality of the MP’s surgery”.

    That would be the confidentiality the MP owes to the visitor – there is nowt going
    the other way. Or is the MP some kind of priest with a holy nimbus around
    his head?

    Since Cable was telling his confidants (and surely the reporters have not
    been the only ones) about a commercially significant decision, he was
    within a whisker of inciting and facilitating the crime of insider trading.

  • In case anyone reads down this far I would like to express some support for Vince in his predicament. Of course he is a hypocrite – most if not all politicians in government have to be. Any expression of individual views which differ from the Government consensus will be slapped down, as is shown by the present furore.
    Covert recording of private conversations can only be justified by a public interest benefit. Your judgement on that will be determined by which political party you support.

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