Vince Cable: stays in Cabinet, responsibility for takeover ruling moves

The net upshot of the day today:

  • Vince Cable disagrees with Conservatives (shocking news, I know)
  • Vince Cable tells people he thinks are his constituents the truth when asked (grounds for questioning his judgement on this, yes, but isn’t it rather odd to see the Daily Telegraph thundering about how awful it is that a politician told the truth?)
  • Yup, there was something significant in the Telegraph publishing what it claimed was a “full” transcript but which in fact clearly had been edited – though the reason wasn’t one I’d expected
  • Decision on Rupert Murdoch takeover plans has been moved to Jeremy Hunt (inevitable in the circumstances, and Vince Cable really should have known better than to express any views – even to constituents on this point – on an issue on which he would have to make a semi-judicial ruling)

UPDATE: Here’s what some LibDem bloggers have been saying this afternoon:

UPDATE 2: Here’s the next round of revelations:

In the latest report, Mr Moore described the decision to stop paying child benefit to all mothers as “blantantly not a consistent and fair thing to do”.

Mr Davey said the announcement came out of the blue at the Conservatives’ party conference and left him “gobsmacked”.

He also warned the undercover reporters changes to hosuing benefit would “put people below the breadline”.

Mr Webb said he had written to Chancellor George Osborne to complain about the child benefit reforms because “the details aren’t right”.

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110 Comments

  • A different view 21st Dec '10 - 8:02pm

    Hmm, that’s the full net upshot of today is it?

  • Hank from Surrey 21st Dec '10 - 8:15pm

    It really is very sad to watch Mr Cable, not long ago regarded as one of the most respected politicians in any party, turn into a figure of abject ridicule. I’m afraid it doesn’t augur at all well for the LibDems if the only serious source of respectability can allow himself to be so easily marginalised (and, I venture to suggest, humiliated)…

  • Jermey Hunt? – well I think that’s BSkyB sold to Murdoch already then

  • The Conservatives must be dancing a jig now. The Coalition hating DT made to look like a gutter rag, Cable and the Lib Dems weakened and humiliated, BBC hating Hunt placed in charge and, the cherry on top, the media running Lib Dem hostile stories over the quiet Christmas period, whilst Cameron looks like the one let down. Thanks Mr Bean.

    I make no apologies for the DT here, to use a constituency surgery like this is outrageous. But Vince, a cabinet minister subject to collective responsibility has got to know better. Even if he had not said anything about News Corp, this would be bad enough, but to place himself in jeopardy like this smacks of a man rather too comfortable in permanent opposition.

    Vince might be right on News Corp, but once again a senior Lib Dem has not understood the difference between politics and government and it is now starting to cause a problem. If the Conservatives did not have their calculators out about whether they have a majority to cash in with a snap election, they do now.

    I would also add one other point. Some people seem to think that the DT hacks are bad people for telling lies. I don’t remember anyone having a similar problem with Stephen Byers being stung by fake lobbyists who lied. In taking the smooth of these journalistic practices, sadly the party has to accept the rough too.

    As a note here, the DT are not, ‘thundering.’ This is some whistleblower, the DT went out of their way to not include the stuff about Murdoch.

  • I’ve found it odd to say the least that the Lib Dems are so rubbish at covering up their U-turns and tactics, the Tories aren’t, nor are Labour, I mean they are groan worthy and wide open to accusations of spin but they have that sneaky politician loophole down to a tee, the Lib Dems are simply full on full of it at times and have no defence.

    Now being part of the coalition you’d think someone from Tory HQ would have a word or two, that doesn’t seem to be the case and seems rather telling that the Tories are happy to let the Lib Dems sink.

    Vince is unfortunately a busted flush, it’s a matter of when he goes from government now, not if.

  • well done vince,you could have given murdoch a black eye,instead your indiscretion with those undercover telegraph journos means murdoch is laughing his head off now.

  • Anthony – ‘Now being part of the coalition you’d think someone from Tory HQ would have a word or two, that doesn’t seem to be the case and seems rather telling that the Tories are happy to let the Lib Dems sink.’

    With the greatest of respect, I don’t think it is for the Conservative Party to defend Vince on this one, largely because it is a matter for the government, not the party.

  • @Red Rag, that’s some hypocrisy coming from a Labour supporter. Your own party has its own divisions between market supporters and others.

  • @Red Rag you know Cable wrote a chapter in the Organge Book

  • Cable should try and retain some dignity and just resign now. It is a bit of irony that the man said to have wielded the knife on the past two LibDem leaders, should have this happen to him. He has been left almost fatally wounded. Just where Cameron and Clegg want him. He is now to be used as Clegg’s shield, his last political act before the final blow is struck. Very sad, if only on a personal level. I warned that the LibDems do not know just how ruthless the Right are. It was inevitable that LibDems would be targeted. The Right want unfettered right=wing Tory government, LibDems, especially non-compliant ones, are seen as an obstacle to that. Don’t think that Cable is the last of it.

  • Three more LibDem MPs/Ministers to be outed after being secretly recorded by DT reporters.

    I’m actually now beginning to wonder whether this is a fightback from the left of the LibDems against the Tory drift of their party.

    Interesting times.

  • Grant Williams 21st Dec '10 - 9:51pm

    We should regret that which we have done, not that which we have failed to do.

    The big problem is that Mr Murdoch would have his Application for Judicial Review before the courts quicker than you could blink.

    Remember General / Ex-President Pinochet?

    A lot depends on what the review recommends; IF the Culture Secretary goes against any recommendation, then he would need sound grounds to do so. The European Competition Commissioner has said that there is no problem with Mr Murdoch’s company getting the rest of the shares, and that’s a powerful voice. A predecessor, Mario Monti managed to prevent Honeywell and General Electric merging, both American companies, which gives an idea of the level of clout that position holds.

    I am no fan of News International, BUT if they take over Sky, there MAY be a price for doing so, for instance providing better terms to third party broadcasters such as Virgin. In any case the main problem for Liberal Democrats is not Sky, providing sufficient is done to avoid taking an unfair advantage of the satellite market, it’s much more the printed media, where bias is open and not constrained in the same way as the electronic media are around elections.

    Let’s just hope that if the buy-out does take place that the regulators are mindful of their obligations, so eloquently put a couple of hundred years ago by the then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Ellenborough;

    “There is no doubt that the general principle is favoured, both in law and in justice, that every man may fix what price he pleases upon his own property, or the use of it; but if for a particular purpose the public have the right to resort to his premises and make use of them, and he have a monopoly in them for that purpose, if he will take the benefit of that monopoly, he must, as an equivalent, perform the duty attached to it on reasonable terms”.

    If only we could make the press do the same…

  • @Dara I agree it’s not for the Tories to defend Vince here, but I do think they could be giving the Lib Dems a bit of coaching on how to try and avoid these situations, Tory HQ are fully aware of how dirty a game politics is.

  • Conservative 21st Dec '10 - 10:29pm

    the Lib Dems are going to have to pull themselves together and dust themselves off this Christmas because the next 6 months will be even more difficult than the last few…No one has to look far to find another negative story about the lib dems – rochdale, exeter, north norfolk, last week’s byelection results, tuition fees, vat, council housing, cuts, NHS, Trident, Nuclear power, Chris Huhne, David Laws, Vince Cable, Richard Drayson, Poll ratings – all battlegrounds which you need to leave behind.

    Win Oldham and Saddleworth (with Cameron’s help) and try to make May not the month of ‘MAYDAY’ because I don’t think you will survive three successive bad results…Happy hunting!

  • Truly shocking.

    Badly executed, badly managed, badly dealt with, badly spun. A horror show.

    Bad for Cable. He has no career left. Humiliated with a demotion like some scolded child.
    Bad for the Lib Dems. Vince acted like an amateur, speaking openly with 2 utter strangers – this can’t help in the OE+S byelection. Negative press about the Lib Dems is building and will soon get totally un-controllable.
    Bad for the Tories. Cameron again proves he can’t sack loyalists and within weeks will surely have a backbench (or at least 1922) rebellion. You know that if this was a Tory MP, Cameron would have ditched them instantly
    Great for Labour. An early Xmas present – an utter gift.

    Vince cannot stay in his role surely. This wasn’t a mistake. It was a clear error in already discredited judgement.

    And as for the latest revelations (3 LD MPs directly criticising the Tories) – No wonder Clegg looks so surly. His party looks unelectable I’m afraid to say.

  • Vince has gone some way in rescuing the reputation of the party (great), but may well have succeeded in rescuing Murdoch’s BSkyB bid in so doing (not so great).

    Murdoch, like Cameron, is an asset of the US military industrial complex and billionaire families. It is they who gave Murdoch US citizenship and allowed him to buy up media outlets in the USA. It is they, through the mechanism of Frank Luntz and the right-wing UK media, who installed Cameron as Tory Party Leader. One word from Washington and Vince would have been out, but Cameron needs the Liberal Democrats to prop his government up, so I guess he had to get on his knees and plead.

    Murdoch is a deadly danger to everything liberals and democrats hold dear. Allow him majority control of BSkyB and we can say “good-bye” to functioning democracy in this country.

  • David Arkley 21st Dec '10 - 10:50pm

    I think that Vince Cable is right in attacking the Murdoch empire – control of all the media is not ‘open government’. Perhaps Mr cable should resign and then we could see how much support Cameron really has and which side of the political divide he falls – another election in the Spring? Hopefully before the bankers get another bail out and the public services are not destroyed.

  • Conservative,

    You’re right except about the local byelection results. Last week we won none and lost none. No big deal. The week before we won 2 and lost 1. A net gain. They’re not bad results by any standard. It will be a tough 6 months though.

  • You make a fair point up top about the DT being incomplete in its reporting of VC’s sting – one of the reasons we need to view the selectivity of WikiLeaks with caution.

    At least we can have some explicit public examination of Murdoch’s increasing grip on our TV – as well as the Tories’ pre election discussion of scrapping the political impartiality of broadcasters.

  • Sorry Sesenco

    Cable has done nothing to enhance the party’s reputation.

    Clegg’s strategy has been to say “Coalition makes government better”; “you can have different opinions and still make things better”.

    How has the Lib Dem’s most popular member being demoted like a naughty infant by a Tory PM rescued the reputation of the party? It’s only politicos (like me) who care about anyone’s view about Murdoch. Why do you think his newspapers sell so many daily copies? It’s not because people are willing him to fail.

  • Cuse,

    “Great for Labour. An early Xmas present – an utter gift.”

    Do you really think so, Cuse? Find me a senior Labour politician willing to utter a word of criticism of Mr Rupert Murdoch. Ed didn’t do it tonight, did he? Not likely. He used the affair as an opportunity to score political points against Vince and Cameron. OK, that’s what party leaders do, so I can’t really complain. But ask yourself this. Will Labour ever win again if Murdoch is allowed 100% control of BSkyB?

    “His party looks unelectable I’m afraid to say.”

    Rather the opposite. It shows that some Lib Dem ministers still believe in Lib Dem values. Strange, though. You’ve been knocking Lib Dem ministers for months on end for caving in to the Tories. Now they’ve shown a bit of mettle, you’re still knocking them. They can’t do anything to satisfy you, can they?

  • Cuse,

    “Cable has done nothing to enhance the party’s reputation.”

    I disagree entirely. I think he’s given it a new coat of paint, and more.

    “How has the Lib Dem’s most popular member being demoted like a naughty infant by a Tory PM rescued the reputation of the party?”

    An odd comment from a Labourite. Remember Ken Livingstone and Rhodri Morgan? Did their reputations sink when they were shafted by Blair?

    “It’s only politicos (like me) who care about anyone’s view about Murdoch.”

    Oh dear. Everyone loves Murdoch? Labour really is sunk for all eternity.

  • Donald Smith 21st Dec '10 - 11:03pm

    I’m fascinated that most people see this as a story about the coalition or the Lib Dems. I see it as a story about journalism. A journalism that is rotten to the core, unaccountable and over-powerful. The rot set in over 20 years ago and is getting worse. Cable was stung by fraudulent journalists – not his fault. His sentiments are absolutely right and the party needs to begin to fight back hard against the media. All parties need to realise the media can turn nasty – may of all colours were caught up unfairly in the expenses scandal alongside the few who deserved being ‘outed’.

  • @Donald Smith

    we get the media, and for that matter, the politicians we deserve.

  • Grammar Police 21st Dec '10 - 11:11pm

    @ Donald Smith – you’re spot on here.

  • Hank from Surrey 21st Dec '10 - 11:13pm

    Sesenco

    So Cable’s actions “show that some Lib Dem ministers still believe in Lib Dem values” and have “given [the party] a new coat of paint’? Oh, perlease… He might possibly have retained a small amount of credibility if he hadn’t been obliged to issue such grovelling apologies for expressing his opinions in order to keep (half) his job. What earthly use is it to the party if its most respected minister ostensibly says what he thinks, but then immediately looks hugely embarrassed about it? How exactly do you think that improves the party’s image…?

  • Sesenco.

    You keep making the mistake of making this story about firstly Murdoch and then Labour. The story is Cable. I’ll give him another month, maximum. He’s totally discredited. Perhaps to a Lib Dem it shows strength – but to the electorate it just shows stupidity.

    Again I ask – where is the evidence that Murdoch + his empire bothers the electorate in the numbers that would mean Dr Cable’s intervention would do the party a favour? All Cable has done is (1) given the impression that he can’t be trusted and (2) effectively waved the Murdoch bid through due to his rank stupidity.

    If you insist that Murdoch is the story – Cable has actually made Murdoch’s job far, far easier. Corks will be popping at News Corp tonight. You’re the one who keep saying “to get rid of Clegg stay in the party and fight”. How exactly is Cable getting the Murdoch brief removed going to improve the case against the BSkyB bid? How is giving it to Jeremy Hunt going to enhance Lib Dem reputations? This just doesn’t make sense I’m afraid!!!

    And as for Labour’s view of Murdoch, again, I say that isn’t the story. The story has been about Cable’s abject humiliation. To deny that this doesn’t present Milliband with the World’s largest open goal to flog the Coalition with is strange. Livingstone + Rhodri Morgan??? Blair might have shafted them but they weren’t humiliated. Cameron has in effect totally boxed Cable in. “You can keep your job but I’m taking away the really important bit”. It removes his influence and Authority and makes him (Cable) look childish.

    It shows mettle does it??? Saying some hyperbolic words to two pretty girls at a constituency surgery shows mettle? Crikey. I just thought he was slack-jawed.

    And as for opportunism – come on. When Clegg launched the Gurkha campaign – are you saying that wasn’t opportunism???

  • Man on the Bus 21st Dec '10 - 11:18pm

    “I see it as a story about journalism. A journalism that is rotten to the core, unaccountable and over-powerful.”

    Oh yes indeed. And it’s high time that someone cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play.

  • Rolling over for Mudoch. The shame of it.
    We certainly know who Cameron listens too and it isn’t Liberal Democrat Ministers.

  • Man on the Bus 21st Dec '10 - 11:21pm

    Please cut Sesenco some slack.

    He’s been pinning his hopes on Cable as the Brutus to Nick Clegg’s Julius Caesar. A nice thought but Cable’s no longer in a position to assassinate anyone.

  • Of course, it’s the journalists fault.

    Please, Vince has been in this game long enough to not act like such an infant.

    Even if the pretty young ladies he bragged to hadn’t been journalists – they could have rang any number of newspapers to sell their story.

    This isn’t “when journalists attack”. It’s “when politicians act like idiots”.

  • Hank from Surrey 21st Dec '10 - 11:25pm

    Sorry to lower the tone, but…
    Is anybody still looking forward to Celebrity ‘Strictly’ on Christmas Day? It will be…excruciating.
    Any chance of the Beeb editing VC out (for his own sake)?

  • Silly billy 🙁

  • Cuse,

    “You keep making the mistake of making this story about firstly Murdoch and then Labour.”

    When Murdoch gets complete control of BSkyB (with the result that Labour is excluded from power for decades) tell me again that the story isn’t about Murdoch.

    “but to the electorate it just shows stupidity.”

    How do you know what the electorate thinks? Have you asked them?

    “How exactly is Cable getting the Murdoch brief removed going to improve the case against the BSkyB bid?”

    But you just said the story isn’t about Murdoch! Some consistency, please.

    “And as for Labour’s view of Murdoch, again, I say that isn’t the story”

    It will be when Murdoch uses BSkyB to trash your party, day in, day out.

    “and makes him (Cable) look childish.”

    Really? You’re not an impartial observer exactly, are you? Some would say it makes Cable look brave, honest and principled.

    “I just thought he was slack-jawed.”

    Look who’s talking!

    You see, Cuse, you are allowing your obsessional hatred of the Liberal Democrats to get the better of you. In the scheme of things, I don’t suppose Vince Cable’s reputation matters that much. He’s done himself some good, and he’s done the party some good. But there’s a bigger issue. And that is Rupert Murdoch and his backers, the US military-industrial complex and billionaire families. Do we want a bunch of mega-rich, war-mongering gangster plutocrats to control our politics, our economy, our media, our lives, from here to kingdom come? That’s what’s at issue. If Murdoch and his kind are given complete control of the UK media (the BBC next?), things like fairness, democracy, pluralism, accountability, all are dead. Yet all Labourites commenting on this site seem to care about is throwing petty playground insults at Liberal Democrat politicians. If Ed Milliband had said something like “Murdoch is a deadly danger to this country and its politics, he absolutely has to be stopped”, then he would have my respect. But he didn’t and he doesn’t.

  • Leviticus18_23 21st Dec '10 - 11:44pm

    Prior to the election, Vince was the only man to understand what had happened to the economy and how to fix it.

    It’s all gone a bit wrong hasn’t it…?

    Still, Murdoch gets what he wants so at least someone is happy.

    Well done Vince. You couldn’t have made a bigger mess of that if you had tried.

  • To all those claiming Vince is some sort of hero for speaking out against the Tories.

    He didn’t to anyone he thought mattered. When confronted he backed down and apologised. He continued to lie about his true feelings. He has not, Robin Cook like, stood up from the crowd of yes men to stand up for a point of principle. He has simply been very stupid and opened his mouth before opening his brain.

    His biggest crime was abusing his position. He was required to act in a quasi judicial role. In this role he had to be impartial, and had to be seen to be impartial. He was neither. If he was a judge making decisions before the evidence had been presented we would be demanding his resignation.

    To those who claim the journalism is at fault.

    Where were the cries of protest when it was Labour ministers and ex ministers being stung. They have shown a minister of the crown to be breaking the rules of his office. The rest made him look stupid and ill informed, although if he had stood by his words he would have had integrity. The News International stuff was totally disgraceful and will mar any future action he takes against any organisation. Are the lib dems now wanting to restrict our press? Reading this site today you would be forgiven for thinking so….

    He lost an incredible amount of respect over tuition fees, he has lost even more now. He cannot seem to tell the public the truth either when campaigning or when promoting policies he privately criticises. He should resign now and try to preserve the last scrap of his integrity.

  • Hank from Surrey 21st Dec '10 - 11:49pm

    Sesenco

    I see you choose to reply to Cuse on the grounds that you appear to know where his/her political affiliations lie, and so he/she is an easy target. You don’t know mine (nobody here does), so could you answer me, please.

    Exactly how has Cable ‘done himself some good and done his party some good’, when he was immediately obliged to apologise for expressing his opinions, and looked abjectly embarrassed doing so? How has handing the devil Murdoch exactly what he wants on a plate advanced Cable’s cause, your cause or any correct-thinking and socially responsible person’s cause? How does having your best man reduced to half a lame duck help anybody?

    Answers, please, without deflecting the argument to what Labour did/would do/might have done because, frankly, I’m just not interested in that right now.

  • Cable has made a very stupid mistake which will do neither him nor his cause any good whatsoever. Nevertheless Sesenco has a point. For months, our ministers have maintained an unconvincing Trappist silence over the appalling neo-con programme emerging from the Coalition, and have been rewarded by incomprehension and a steady decline at the polls. Now, at last, we have evidence that they have not all lost their marbles and jettisoned their principles. It has hardly come out in the best way, but, at least we now know that some of our ministers – alongside the many backbenchers who rebelled over tuition fees – are not slaves to the Orange Book.

    We should make a virtue of necessity, and build on these revelations to put pressure for a change in the way the Coalition operates. We should not fear a snap election – because Cameron would be likely to lose it. It won’t be easy to regain public trust, but the way to start doing so will be to show that we have principles and that we will fight for them.

  • Hank from Surrey,

    “How exactly do you think that improves the party’s image…?”

    Are you not being a little bit hypocritical here?

    Labourites posting on this site have spent the last 9 months insisting that Lib Dem Ministers actually believe in the policies that the government is pursuing (that they’re really Tories). Now that one or two of them have demonstrated that they still believe in Liberal Democrat policies and values (and are no kind of Tories) – something that Labourites have been so plangently demanding – they give them no credit at all. Instead, they find other ways of demeaning and insulting them.

    This is the politics of the playground.

    But then, I suspect that Mr Murdoch would far rather non-Tory politicians poked insults at each other than stand up to the real enemies of progress.

    Well done, Vince, you’ve done us proud today.

  • Hank from Surrey 22nd Dec '10 - 12:04am

    Sesenco

    Are you incapable of writing a complete sentence without referring to Labour? I am NOT one of the Labourites you refer to, so please answer my question.

    Exactly how have Cable’s actions enhanced the party when they have a) virtually guaranteed the doomsday outcome he was supposedly arguing against; b) made him look utterly foolish in the process, thus undermining any credibility he may have had as the party’s ‘conscience’; and c) lost all the influence he once had in cabinet? For God’s sake, can you not see that Cable’s ’cause’ (if he actually had one) is now in shreds?

  • @Sesenco

    The problem is that these protestations are not being made in an open and frank manner. And the fact that apologies are being made for them once they out in the open. And yet these same ministers will come out in full support of the policies that they claim not to support. Let’s not forget this is supposed to be new politics.

  • Hank: Sesenco has been unremittingly hostile to the coalition, and actually I’m amazed he still claims he is a Lib Dem, so his point of view is certainly not a “tribal” Lib Dem one. He is right though that Labour’s toadying to Murdoch today is pretty shameful to watch.

  • Richard Swales,

    Spot on. What Clegg should have said is: “… coalition government can only work effectively if disagreements, where they exist, are thrashed out in public, and we let the voters see how we come to a resolution.”

  • (Matthew 12:25). ‘And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand’.

  • Is this not an inevitable part of the coalition process?

    He’s been used to being totally honest with everyone because for most of his life as a politician what he said didn’t matter. Now it matters, and for once he was indiscrete, now seriously burned, and will in future in all probability be very discrete indeed. So what is the big deal?

    Surely the fundamental question is was he right to stand up to the Murdich Empire?

  • As Vince Cable has been stripped of his responsibilities for Ofcom, media policy, broadcasting, and telecoms sectors, shouldn’t he be taking a pay cut?

  • Hank from Surrey 22nd Dec '10 - 1:05am

    Pimkie

    This is my final comment, as it’s patently obvious that the point isn’t getting through.

    Cable ‘stands up’ to the Murdoch Empire in the most inappropriate way imaginable. As a result he loses all influence he once had over the decision, which will now almost certainly go in Murdoch’s favour. So by his horrendously misjudged actions he achieves exactly the nightmare outcome he purports to have opposed.

    The ‘fundamental question’ is not ‘was he right to do it’; it is ‘who benefits from him having done it in the way he did’. Answer? Murdoch. That’s not Cable being ‘totally honest’; that’s him being naive, arrogant, thoughtless, insensitive, vain, inept… Take your pick.

    And yes, the Labour Party’s position re: Murdoch is utterly nauseating (as is so much else that they do). But, hey, get this: THEY’RE NOT IN POWER. The Lib Dems are, and Cable’s actions have swept away any realistic possibility of Murdoch being blocked.

    Thanks, Vince, and good night.

  • John Roffey 22nd Dec '10 - 1:18am

    Objectively, I am afraid the Coalition has been a disaster for the Party. The reputation of its two most senior politicians in tatters, poll ratings slashed and a sizable rebuilding job ahead. The cause no doubt MPs inexperienced in the actuality of government and overwhelmed by their new stature coupled to a coldly ruthlessness Tory Party.

    I wonder if VC will want to continue in the cold light of morning – if he does, holding political office must be very dear to him indeed.

  • Those who think Vince is the most damaged would do well to remember he was telling the truth.

    You take on Rupert Murdoch and his papers will declare war on you, or are memories so short that they can’t remember the election campaign ?

    He said he was crucial to the coalition and couldn’t be sacked.
    Has he been sacked ?

    He said long ago that that the Liberal Democrats had to be seen to disagree with the Conservatives.
    A view Nick has only just reached after it’s far too late to save his and the Party’s plummeting popularity.

    Vince was entrapped into saying something in private that only the most naive Nick loyalists and Thatcherites were pretending wasn’t being said in private.

    He might have lost the power to okay the BSkyB decision but that decision could and probably would have been over-ruled by Cameron anyway since Cameron has now revealed how scared he is of Murdoch.

    And who do you think the Liberal Democrat grassroots will be more inclined to support now, Nick or Vince ? Vince is hardly going to be hated by the public for standing up to Murdoch or saying he won’t roll over for the coalition and will quit if they push him too far. Cameron could push Nick over a cliff and Nick would look up from the carnage of the polls claiming it was all in the interest of the coalition. Like he has done.

    At least there can be no more pretending that Cameron and Nick’s close friendship is all that matters and everything will turn out nice is we just wish hard enough. While those Labour supporters crowing about this just seem as terrified of Murdoch as they were when he was visiting Blair and Brown to tell them what to do in Downing Street.

  • Sesenco – “Some would say it makes Cable look brave, honest and principled.”

    Oh for goodness sake, brave, honest and principled would be to state what he thinks out in the open and damn the Tories. Braggadocio in front of a couple of pretend constituents just makes him look like a slightly sad middle-aged man trying to impress a couple of young women (“yeah, well actually I’m really hard and macho and stuff and really stuffing Murdoch and the Tories”), especially when followed by abject and grovelling apologies to keep his position.

  • Better trying to impress his constituents than Cameron and Osborne trying to impress by prostrating themselves for the U.S. President or for an Australian Media tycoon with an aversion to paying taxes.

    Cable has been far more honest than Nick and Cameron about voicing dissent and he has done it on public or don’t you remember the conference ?

    Sad to see so many willing to roll over at the slightest criticism of Rupert Murdoch but that is the default position for Labour and the Conservatives.

  • Poppie's mum 22nd Dec '10 - 9:05am

    What a shame Lib Dem mimisters are happy to share their thoughts with two giggly [presumably attractive] young females in private but act like Tory Stepford Wives when they are talking to the electorate as a whole.

    As a neighbour told me last night, an enthusiastic Lib Dem voter for many years, ‘well that’s it then. I thought the Lib Dems were different but now I think they are just as unprincipled as any other party and on top of that we can see that they have not got the experience to be in government. Cable behaved like a naive old fool, taken in by a pretty face’.

    How many others, like her, who’ve been clinging on to their support of the Lib Dems in the last months are finally throwing in the towel now ?

  • On the BBC website 80% of posters are supporting Cable in his views about Murdoch. On Lib Dem Voice about 80% are hostile. That’s because the majority of people who’ve posted on here are not Lib Dems, and most of them are supporters of a party which has sent the best part of two decades sucking up to Murdoch. OK, they may say that Murdoch isn’t the issue and Cable’s stupidity is, but your party and your party’s policies in government were in hock to a man and a corporation whose interests are at odds with decency, democracy and internationalism. There are plenty of people in the Labour Party who share our detestation of Murdoch and all his works, but unlike your party our party’s senior figures agree with us.

  • @tonyhill people aren’t hostile to Vince’s dislike of Murdoch, they’re pointing out that in his position he shouldn’t have made that public, which is obvious, he’s in a position where political bias should not be influencing the decision on whether Murdoch can take complete control of SKY, it doesn’t matter which political party the person making that decision represents, it’s a legal and not political decision.

    Vince made a huge error.

  • @Sesenco
    “Labourites posting on this site have spent the last 9 months insisting that Lib Dem Ministers actually believe in the policies that the government is pursuing (that they’re really Tories). Now that one or two of them have demonstrated that they still believe in Liberal Democrat policies and values (and are no kind of Tories) – something that Labourites have been so plangently demanding – they give them no credit at all. Instead, they find other ways of demeaning and insulting them.”

    I think you’re missing a point here. Vince didn’t do you proud. In public, and in voting, he remains a slave to the Tories. He would never have publically made these comments, nor would the others who have now been stung. I am no Lbourite, but like many others I have been demanding that Ministers state OPENLY their misgivings and stop the love in. they have not had the moral courage to do so. They need to stand up and be counted not have their views weasled out of them by undercover reporters. Then they can make us proud.

    Also Vince broke the Ministerial Code, has demeaned his office, and could have cost the Country millions in court cases had News Corps found out about the recording post any decisions. He has also ensured that the decision will now be taken by a Tory Murdoch lover. Not a lot to be proud about I’m afraid.

  • David Lawson 22nd Dec '10 - 9:49am

    This is unspinnable. LD members are not – should not – be in any way reassured by politicians gobbing off in private. Vince will be remembered for tuition fees. Robust views will not change that nor reasssure me that he will carry through those robust views this time round.

    Also, Vince’s mistake is not saying it but thinking it. Surely Murdoch is entitled to the same judgment that we ourselves would expect. A fair one.

  • I am actually impressed and agree with these Mp’s private thought I now want them to say them in public. I have hope for this party. I just don’t see how the Conservative lead government (that what it is – the evidence is now out there) will survive once the going get treally tough next year.

    Time will tell it always does!!

  • @Peter Posted 22nd December 2010 at 8:43 am

    I think you have put the position very succinctly and correctly.

    At the end of the day quite a lot of LibDem activists will take comfort and cheer from what Vince and the other three ministers did. The party has been heading to disaster under Clegg’s Tory-leaning leadership and the fact that there is some kind of rebellion among ministers as well as backbenchers will persuade these shell-shocked activists to regroup and fight for their party which to me is no bad thing.

    As to whether they can pull it off is another matter and I think this will all be down to the wider party making a decision as to whether the coalition, on balance, is ‘good’ for Liberal values. But it should always be remembered that being in government is a heady mix of gas and air for all those involved.

    It even percolates down to ordinary party members at conferences who increase in stature because a government minister and not just a party worthy stops to say a few words to them on a personal level. It also gives activists, long-used to Parly opposition, the chance to feel they are useful and making a valuable contribution to building a better society.

    And I think the last point is the key to the whole issue. Does coalition with the Tories bring about a ‘fairer’ society?

    Looking at the four ‘outed’ Ministers it’s obvious Vince is finished and will go in the not too distant future. What a gaffe and what a gift to Murdoch. It appears that his nuclear warhead was actually signed away in the small print of the coalition agreement and he didn’t realise.

    But the other three are more interesting to me as their comments are about policy issues with no taint of an old man being ‘conned’ by a couple of young female reporters giggling encouragement to him to spill the beans. Indeed he revealed the Murdoch battle unbidden.

    I hear what the other three say to ‘constituents’ but have they actually made these arguments in cabinet? That is an important question and I think goes to the heart of the matter. If they didn’t, it might just be down to the fact that they got totally caught-up in the mystique of governemnt and before they knew what was going on they were ‘bounced’ by Cameron into impossible positions which they now regret. But a point which is being ignored by many is that these three whether they agree with a coalition policy or not become tied to the ministerial doctrine of collective responsibility once the Cabinet adopt the policy.

    However, there are other LibDem ministers who fully adopt the Tory ideology and another group who are there for the personal power, prestige and ministerial Mondeo and a few other backbenchers desperate to join them. this isn’t an attack on the LibDems as it happens in every party.

    But LibDems have got to realise that this whole affair may go away over the Xmas break for journos and even the public. But Cameron will not forget and will already be amending his battle-plan for disposing with the LibDem social conscience which, unlike his, is actually IMHO genuine and therefore dangerous to Tories.

    And then there are the Tory backbenchers who, quite rightly on a personal level, are seriously aggrieved at what they see as Cameron pandering to the LibDem and being lenient when they break the coalition agreement when they wouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

    Cameron has his own problems and his own political future is on a knife-edge and if he ends up a one-government wonder he will be consigned to the dustbin of political history with a speed and ruthlessness that only the Tories can muster and he knows it.

    Initially I was surprised that Vince wasn’t sacked on the spot but his survival really shows how ‘dodgy’ a position that Cameron and Clegg individually occupy.

    Clegg could rescue himself and his party by standing up to Cameron on LibDem policies and rewriting the coalition agreement to reflect the experience of the last six months or so. Don’t see how anyone could argue with that as it is ‘New Politics’ after all. Isn’t it?

  • TheContinentalOp 22nd Dec '10 - 10:44am

    I’m not sure how any Lib Dem can take a crumb of comfort from this debacle. What these revelations show is that we have politicians willing to defend in public policies they don’t agree with. Willing to vote for policies they believe to be regressive and unfair.

    There’s nothing brave or honourable about their actions. Far from it. It’s spineless, gutless. How much damage were these men prepared to be done before they finally gave up their ministerial posts and comforts. I think we’d have been waiting a while.

    Tim Farron’s glib tweet misses the point here. What the DT has revealed is not disent. It’s the fact Lib Dems lack the backbone to voice concerns in public. To actually stand up and be counted. It seems Clegg has them all on message -protect the coalition at all costs.

  • An issue that seems to have been overlooked in the Cable/Murdoch issue is that Vince obviously had a strong personal opposition to Murdoch’s consolidating move. I think the language used makes that abundantly clear and it is laughable to listen to LibDem worthies on telly trying to persuade everyone that Vince really would have been neutral in handling the issue as the government minister responsible.

    Let me remind you of ‘New Politics’ and also remind you of the innate commonsense of the public – anyone who has heard Vince on tape knows exactly how strong his personal opposition to Murdoch was. It would appear that a lot of senior LibDem figues, in an attempt to spin the story to their or the party’s advantage, have again treated the public as idiots and again damaged the LibDems electorally.

    The brutal truth here is that Vince should have recognised his personal position and stood aside from the whole Murdoch issue. Always remember the old but very sound mantra: ‘Justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done.’ I suddenly thought that possibly this could be adapted to include coalition policy making 🙂

    But another worrying thing about many ‘defending’ Vince is that they explain his gaffe away by saying well everyone knows what his position was and he made no secret of it. Well, that really is worrying because if it was that well-known you can bet that Murdoch or at least his minions would have known and if the judgement had gone against him then the UK would have been hit by a crippling legal action for damages. These people should have acted to ensure Vince was removed from the firing line – of course maybe it suited them to allow him to carry on and later be ‘exposed’ by the DT. Politics is a murky game and often your most dangerous enemies are your political colleagues

    I have no time for Murdoch and used to work for a paper he bought and resigned from it shortly afterwards and have watched sadly down the years as it was trashed in the pursuit of profit. I’ve also done my bit picketing in London and Glasgow against his trade union attacks. So I am opposed to any increase in his power as I have watched how his media outlets have been cynically used over the years to advance his Empire and narrow personal/political objectives at the expense of fair and balanced news coverage.

    Meant to say in my previous post: Was it Confuscious who said something like: ‘We live in interesting times” or perhaps it was Mao who also gave the good advice: ”When in the sea of the people, swim like a fish”.

  • “What these revelations show is that we have politicians willing to defend in public policies they don’t agree with.”

    Well, perhaps that will change now, and not before time. The threadbare excuse has been collective Cabinet responsibilities. Tell that to those Tories who have entered into robust discussion on Ken Clarke’s new prison policies. They have done well to do so. Government is better when policy decisions are properly and openly argued in public. Lib Dems should do likewise.

    Why didn’t they? I blame the leadership. Clegg and his little group of pro-Tory zealots have been determined to stay joined at the hip to Cameron. They have done the party great harm by submerging its identity. The ministers who have unwillingly gone along with this for the sake of their new ministerial careers bear a lesser responsibility. Now, the activists all over the country should target those ministers, with a very simple message:

    “WE WANT OUR PARTY BACK!”

  • Ecojon,

    “The brutal truth here is that Vince should have recognised his personal position and stood aside from the whole Murdoch issue. Always remember the old but very sound mantra: ‘Justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done.’”

    I guess you have a point. But it applies with equal force to Jeremy Hunt, doesn’t it?

  • • Sesenco
    Posted 21st December 2010 at 11:51 pm | Permalink (To Hank from Surrey)

    “Labourites posting on this site have spent the last 9 months insisting that Lib Dem Ministers actually believe in the policies that the government is pursuing (that they’re really Tories). Now that one or two of them have demonstrated that they still believe in Liberal Democrat policies and values (and are no kind of Tories) – something that Labourites have been so plangently demanding – they give them no credit at all. Instead, they find other ways of demeaning and insulting them.”

    The reason that we Labourites regard the lib dems as Tories is because they have clearly demonstrated that like the Tories, they prefer power above principle. Deeds, not words please. If Cable seriously believed in Liberal Democrat principles he would have resigned early over the raising of tuition fees not justified it and steered the legislation through the House of Commons. Yesterday he had the opportunity to commit himself again to Liberal Democrat values and yet again he flunked it. When I heard what he had been saying I cheered and assumed that he would be going to the back benches to lead you in a principled fightback. Not so. His one resignation would have done far more to restore your party’s morale than any amount of words. Talk is cheap. Cable should have told Cameron to stuff his job where the sun doesn’t shine. As it is, he has, in the course of just a few months, gone from John Maynard Keynes to Mr Pastry. And Cameron has proved that he is the heir to Neville Chamberlain.

    As for your crocodile tears concerning Labour being kept from office by Murdoch’s empire, I think you ought to read a little history. The mighty forces of capital, (including the Liberals) and its monopoly over the media, have always been alligned against Labour. It has never stopped us from gaining power when we have deserved it.

  • What I don’t understand about so many party members posting on here (and elsewhere in places like Liberal Conspiracy for example) is how divorced they seem from reality.

    If the tuition fees fiasco weren’t enough, Uncle Vince now makes a drama out of a crisis; his actions aren’t only a tragic own goal however, they are massively damaging to the party, to the chances of stopping Murdoch take over BskyB, and to your future prospects and how you are seen by erstwhile non-member supporters and voters.

    Lify your eyes for a moment from the faux outrage expressed about the DT’s duplicity, or from trying to make a silk purse out of the sow’s ear that is LD “dissent” showing that they have principles.

    You may be able to fool yourselves, but you aren’t fooling many of those like me who have never voted for anyone else, but are now abandoning you in droves. Perhaps you feel you have no alternative but to carry on eating this rat sandwich of a Coalition and pretending that you actually find it tasty; perhaps some of you even believe in it, and what it is doing. Those of you who don’t need to ask yourselve some very tough questions however if you are to avoid electoral collapse….. time is running out.

  • @David Allen

    I should probably have made that clear in my post – yes most definitely it applies to Hunt. Indeed – other than the personal tragedy for Vince and also his wife who will have been badly hurt by his personal foolishness – the real damage here is the way that things have been ‘eased’ for Murdoch.

    I am not a great believer in conspiracy theories but that doesn’t mean to say that these things don’t go on – we have a historically secretive society with a small core of people who make all the really important decisions with Parly left to implement them and thus ‘manage’ the populace in a controlled but ‘democratic’ manner.

    I have seen attacks on Milliband for not standing up to Murdoch and ‘doing a Vince’. Well, Milliband may be younger but he is a more ‘experienced’ politician with the advantage of decades of party experience in power and power-broking – just like the Tories – which the LibDems don’t have. If they are to survive as a party the LibDems will need to learn fast or be devoured by Cameron with the bits he wants ingested and the rest spat out.

    Sadly Clegg is too close politically to Cameron and, of course, if he hadn’t been he wouldn’t have been ‘selec ted’ for party leadership – and I don’t refer to the party selection process – but the selection of the faceless ones, including Murdoch.

    That’s the problem with conspiracy theories as only those in the know, actually know – and that’s why they hate Assange and other like him.

  • Meant to add to last post.

    Any politician who publicly stand up to Murdoch will be destroyed and cease to exist. That is why the Murdoch Empire is so evil and so anti-democracy and why it has to be resisted but in clever ways.

    I don’t believe for a minute that the DT went on a pure fishing expedition with Vince and struck pay-dirt by accident. They were guided in that direction and who knows why or where it came from.

    But it might have come from a source who felt it might be useful to the Murdoch case and that would be such a sweet Trojan Horse against the DT – we just don’t know at this stage and probably never will.

  • Just a thought – in his online column today, Michael White mentions that he was pointed by David Howarth to the Fraud Act 2006, section 2 – it’s illegal to misrepresent yourself to someone if the intention is to damage that person or your misrepresentation may result in them losing their job, for example. And there’s no “public interest” defence on that one either.

  • @David Allen

    Good to see that Denham has included Hunt in his sights as to his his position on Murdoch

  • Blistering barnacles …

    May I suggest a variation of Godwin’s Law, to be applied to Liberal Vision: any thread where the Orange Book is mentioned is automatically closed?

    David Allen – have you actually read the Orange Book? If you had read it, you might have noticed that many of the authors come from the “left” of the party.

  • @KL

    The relevant section of the Fraud Act 2006 states:

    Fraud by false representation

    (1)A person is in breach of this section if he—
    (a)dishonestly makes a false representation, and
    (b)intends, by making the representation—
    (i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
    (ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

    But as a “gain” or a “loss” is defined to consist only of a gain or a loss in money or property I really don’t think this act is in any way relevant to the situation here especially if you look back to the previous acts it replaced. But aren’t we all getting a little silly here and shouldn’t people be restricting their comments to deal with areas they have some expertise in.

    If anyone wants to test whether the ‘Public Interest’ defence holds then I would suggest that a complaint should be made to the Press Complaints Commission although IMHO they would be wasting their time because the action taken by Cameron against Cable provides a complete defence for the contention it was manifestly in the public interest.

    I also don’t know the details that were given by the journalists so I don’t know whether they actually ‘misrepresented’ themselves in a legal sense and as there is no question of personal gain from a criminal activity then it all becomes hot-air. When Brown and others have been caught in an open-mike situation – even in a private situation like Brown’s car – were the media correct to publicise it. Of course they were because it let the public hear the private thoughts on an issue of public interest. Where things went wrong in Brown’s case is that his PR team failed to handle it correctly.

    I was watching the whole exchange live and here is this media portayed defenceless and sensitive granny shouting and bawling from across the road at Brown. That’s how it all started but few people know that and the media didn’t use that part of the film again as the story developed or more properly was ‘developed’.

    I know what my take was on the comments being made by the granny and they accord exactly with Brown and that’s not because I am a LP supporter but because I heard them. He should never have been talked into an apology but should have identified the granny for what she was or at least how she portrayed herself through her own comments.

    But that’s life – that’s what happens to public figures who don’t learn to keep their mouth firmly shut whenever they are in public and to keep it ever more tightly closed when socialising with party colleagues.

  • David Allen 22nd Dec '10 - 1:16pm

    Tabman,

    Yes, the Orange Book is actually rather mixed in its content, but since one wing of our party treats it as an important political landmark, the term “orange booker” has passed into common use as a shorthand for a particular viewpoint. Would you prefer I used an alternative shorthand term? Such as NuToryLiberal, neocon, Cleggie, Tory b*stard, or sellout?

  • @Tabman

    I don’t hold myself to be an expert on the political leanings of the contributors to the Orange Book and I readily confess to not having read it yet. But it certainly appears to becoming a set-text in Lib-Dems & Coalitions 101 🙂 although we may have to change it to the Not So Orange Book should a LibLab coalition ever come to pass.

    Of course perhaps there may be more Beveridge Group contributors in that edition.

    I’m obviously not a LibDem member but I was surprised to hear you use the left-right terminology with regard to Orange Book contributors as I thought it was more about the difference between social and economic liberalism but I confess not knowing enough to comment on the left-right divide within the LibDems other than to state that it certainly seems to be growing daily.

  • MacK,

    “The reason that we Labourites regard the lib dems as Tories is because they have clearly demonstrated that like the Tories, they prefer power above principle.”

    So Tony Blair never did this? Right. Not even when he was on his knees to Dick Cheney? No, of course not. He was a red-blooded socialist to the core.

    “It has never stopped us from gaining power when we have deserved it.”

    Codswallop. Murdoch didn’t start backing the Tories until 1974. After that, Labour had to become a conservative party subservient to the US military-industrial complex and billionaire families, in order to get a secure majority.

  • Sesenco,

    I would add that I find the hypocrisy of some Labourites nauseating. They complain about Liberal Democrats ratting on their principles but are quite happy to abandon their own principles wholesale to get back into power, even to the extent of grovelling to Rupert Murdoch. I guess they are hoping against hope that the Americans will impose another Blair-Mandelson on them when Cameron becomes terminally unpopular. I don’t think it will happen, but the hopeful can hope.

  • @Sesenco Tony Benn once said on television, something along the lines of “I’m still waiting for the Labour party to get elected”, there are many Labourites who agree with him, plenty of Labourites considered Blair’s path the wrong path and lament the loss of John Smith.

    The Lib Dems are in a similar position, being in government makes many people keep their mouths shut, it means those who don’t agree with policy direction end up watching things happen because they believe long term it’s for the greater good, the true policies will shine through, or that some policies they do agree with won’t happen at all if they disagree with the direction the party is taking.

    However Blair won elections, The Lib Dems now, are in government, dissent is harder to convey when people see signs of success.

  • David Allen – “Would you prefer I used an alternative shorthand term? Such as NuToryLiberal, neocon, Cleggie, Tory b*stard, or sellout?”

    I’d prefer it if you recognised that Liberalism covers many more nuanced positions, with long and established traditions, than the narrow strain of Social Democracy that you espouse and expect everyone else slavishly to follow.

    Eco-Jon – you’re correct in that the (somewhat artificial) divide is not left/right, but social/economic Liberal. However, one of the OB contributors is Steve Webb who is generally regarded as being a leading light of the “social” Liberal wing of the party.

  • And just to prove that there’s nothing new under the sun, here’s a nice linky about eh Orange Book and Godwin’s Law.

  • And a nice quote therefrom:

    “I’m going to coin an equivalent corollary to Godwin’s Law – when somebody uses the phrase “Orange Booker” (or related phrases like “Orange Tories”) in a debate about the Lib Dems, then they have lost and no further rational debate can occur.

  • @KL
    “it’s illegal to misrepresent yourself to someone if the intention is to damage that person or your misrepresentation may result in them losing their job”

    Does that mean that every Lib Dem Minister who was elected on a ticket of slower debt reduction is guilty of misrepresenting themselves to the 500,000 public sector workers ????

    The press will always use such tactics, but any tactics come to nothing if those being snooped on are neither hypocrites or in VC’s case breaking the rules of his job.

  • @ Steve Way 22nd December 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Yea Steve the Press not only will continue to use these tactics but they have used them ever since they existed.

    What has amazed me on numerous LibDem sites over the last couple of days is the outrage that has been manufactured about these tactics. Where was this outrage when the same tactics were used against Tory and Labour politicians – it was totally silent because no one did it to the LibDems because they were nobodies.

    Well, now they are in government and I hope they realised that they are now fair game and their dustbins will be getting raided and their private lives being examined.

    I’m afraid it’s the downside of being important 🙂

  • @ Sesenco,
    Forget about the delusional inter-galactic military cybermen and the spartist world domination theories and address yourself to my central point which is that if the Liberal Democrats want the electorate to believe them to be principled then Lib Dem MPs will have to put their money where their mouths are and get into the habit of resigning more often when asked to do things which are the antithesis of everything they allegedly stand for. Then address the problem of how you are going to get them to do that. Mere words are insufficient now. If Vince Cable was any kind of a politician he would have appreciated what his party and the public are crying out for and resigned.

  • When I think of contemporary members of the Labour Party who are principled the names which spring to mind are Robin Cook and John Denham who resigned because they refused to compromise their principles. I didn’t agree with Cook and Denham at the time but I admired their guts and integrity. Hopefully Cable, Hughes et al will eventually adopt Titans like Cook and Denham as their reference group when the Lib Dems are faced with the next set of political and moral dilemmas.

  • MacK,

    I suggest you stick to the facts and the issues rather than attempt to reanact your performances in the primary school playground all those years ago.

    Fact No 1: You have, on numerous occasions on this site, expressed yourself as an enthusiastic supporter of US foreign policy and imperialist wars.

    Fact No 2: You claim to be a socialist who believes in traditional labour values such as concern for the poor and opposition to the unrestrained free market.

    Question No 1: How do you reconcile Facts1 and 2?

    Question No 2: Do you believe that Rupert Murdoch should be allowed to own 100% of BSkyB?

    Answers please.

    BTW, Robin Cook resigned from Blair’s cabinet over his opposition to the Iraq war, which you support. In previous posts, you have accused opponents of the war of being “appeasers” and anti-Semitic. Does that apply to Robin Cook, or just Liberal Democrats?

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd Dec '10 - 7:58pm

    Almost the entire British commentariat – Conservative and Labour supporters for different reasons – has been reporting on Liberal Democrats in the coalition as if the party was gung-ho in favour of what it was doing, and it was just a few left-wing dissidents who objected.

    These revelations have destroyed that position. Now we can see that Clegg is almost alone in the Liberal Democrats as a true believer in what the coalition is doing.

    OF COURSE Liberal Democrats MPs, even those in government posts, are going to have to drop subtle hints that what the coalition is doing is very far from what they would want if they ran the show. It’s the only chance they have of keeping their seats, and it’s obvious – they’re fed up with having to lie in public, pretend they agree with all this extreme right-wing economics and loony stuff coming from the minds of millionaires who are clueless about life as lived by the ordinary person. We can see now even those we thought of as Clegg loyalists don’t believe in this rubbish.

    From this, if the coalition is to continue, it must be on VERY different terms to the ones we have now. Scrap all this “meeting of minds” stuff where we Liberal Democrats are supposed to have converted to right-wing economics because it’s labelled “Big Society” and the Conservatives are supposed to have converted to Liberalism because they’ve thrown out old-style social conservatism and become nothing but an extreme-right economics party. Instead, let’s have a much harder nosed “agree to differ” government which accepts that we are in hard economic times, but doesn’t try to meet those with revolutionary changes in organising things such as we have seen with the NHS, which no-one except a few out-of-touch theorists want and which those who have to work with them on ground level will tell you won’t work and will tell you very clearly why.

    The days when “private sector know-how” was the answer to everything are GONE!! You need only to look at the failure of our privatised railways and privatised airports to deal with the snow to see that was a stupid little theory that doesn’t bear up to real life. Blair carried on with Thatchersim, and Cameron-Clegg wanted to take it to new extremes. What none of them would admit is that the mess this country is in is due to the failure of Thatcherite policies. Even those that looked good at the time are now revealed as stoking up long-term problems that have hit us badly now. The billions we are paying out as pure profit to “buy to let” landlords as a direct result of “right to buy” is an obvious example. Cameron talks of “Big Society”, but it was his heroine Margaret Thatcher who smashed up the morale and organising power of working class people, turning them into passive consumers who had forgotten all that is necessary for the sort of self-help Cameron in his out-of-touchness envisages as coming under that. The entertainment industry and the Murdoch press and similar are all about pushing down working-class self-reliance and turning us into couch potatoes. THAT is why “Big Society” will not work.

    For here is a weird thing – I can see with this “Big Society” dim echoes of what motivated me as a young radical Liberal years ago, when we called it “community politics” and that phrase didn’t mean just a style of fighting local elections. But Cameron and Clegg and their fellow millionaires just cannot see how the power of big money destroys that. Cameron is NEVER going to stand up against the power of big money, and Clegg has shown himself pathetically unable to say anything but “me too” to Cameron. Cable did try a little, and look what they’ve done to him.

    Clegg is the loser in this. It shows clearly his party is not behind him, not even those he thought he could rely on. He cannot stay on as party leader with any sort of credibility. The right-wing press are desperately trying to pump out the propaganda – advising us Liberal Democrats what to do, when we have done all they asked us to do in the past and it has brought us to this very sorry state – opinion polls soon to put us in single figures and going down further. Do not listen to them any more. I hope after this humiliation Cable does have the guts to stand up and challenge Clegg – let him and the others no longer be afraid to say what they really think. Nick Clegg is NOT the Liberal Democrats, he’s just a rather shallow and easily manipulated man only where he is because he had the backing of the Murdoch press and the like, and we members of the party (or just enough to vote him in) foolishly supposed they’d like us if we put their man at the top.

  • I will certainly be happy to stick to the facts instead of twisting them as you are doing,

    “Fact No 1: You have, on numerous occasions on this site, expressed yourself as an enthusiastic supporter of US foreign policy and imperialist wars.”

    No I haven’t. I have only said that I believed that the first and second invasion of Iraq were justified to rid the world of a nascent Hitler. Virtually all of your Tory comrades in your Tory led coalition shared this view. I have also supported the engagement in Afghanistan which your party and virtually the whole House of Commons supported and involves world coalition forces. I also supported Paddy Ashdown and later Tony Blair’s honourable intervention in the Balkans when the Tories and others said it wasn’t in Britain’s interests to save those people. I have expressed gratitude for American Support for Britain during the Second World War. The rest is just a figment of your vivid imagination and wish fulfilment. I have never supported any other American war. I do not support any war enthusiastically. I do not unrservedly support American foreign policy.

    “Fact No 2: You claim to be a socialist who believes in traditional labour values such as concern for the poor and opposition to the unrestrained free market.”

    Correct.

    “Question No 1: How do you reconcile Facts1 and 2?”

    As fact one is incorrect I don’t have to.

    “Question No 2: Do you believe that Rupert Murdoch should be allowed to own 100% of BSkyB?”

    Certainly not. I believe that his media empire in Britain should be nationalised and regulated.

    “BTW, Robin Cook resigned from Blair’s cabinet over his opposition to the Iraq war, which you support. In previous posts, you have accused opponents of the war of being “appeasers” and anti-Semitic. Does that apply to Robin Cook, or just Liberal Democrats?”

    Yes, I have accused Liberal Democrats who opposed the war in Iraq of being appeasers. At the time of his resignation I believed that Robin Cook and others who were prepared to tolerate Saddam Hussein were appeasers. However, I had great admiration for the stand that they took and believed that they showed enormous courage when it come to resigning over principle and that kind of courage is sadly lacking in your party at present.
    Charles Kennedy showed it over Iraq and I admired him for that. But then, the Liberal Democrats were a principled party when he was leading them.

    I never said that Liberal Democrats are anti-semitic. I said that it seems that Liberal Democrats are prepared to support any policy as long as it isn’t an American policy or an Israeli policy. To describe that as anti-semitic is pure sophistry on your part.

    Happy Christmas.

  • MacK,

    So Robin Cook was an appeaser, but you admire him for being an appeaser. It’ll take me a while to get my head round that one.

    And you want to state to own the “News of the Screws”? Is that so they can hack our phones legally?

    Years ago, “Private Eye” did a wonderful montage depicting Murdoch urinating over a map of Britain. Murdoch isn’t just a ruthless hammerer of competition and a purveyor of right-wing, neocon propaganda, he is an insidious enemy of taste, quality and standards. Murdoch doesn’t necessarily subscribe to every right-wing view going. His relationship with the US military-industrial complex and billionaire families is one not so much of ideological kinship, but of symbiosis. They help him buy up media outlets, he furthers their interests in print and on air. Can anyone think of a more vile and disgusting publication than the “News of the Screws”? I’m sure there’s one out there, but I’m struggling.

    Watch out for the BBC. The right is determined to destroy it. The Hutton Inquiry killed two birds with one stone. It covered up the murder of Dr David Kelly, and it imposed a cordon sanitaire of fear and timidity around the BBC. How long will public service broadcasting survive in this country?

    Vince was absolutely right to declare war on Rupert Murdoch. The rest of us should do so too.

    BTW, MacK. You have said on this site that Russia continues to present a military threat to the United Kingdom, and that Control Orders are necessary to defend us from terrorists. Just thought I’d remind you.

  • Just to pitch in on Robin Cook. At the time I was greatly impressed by his passion and principles. He felt he could not continue as a Minister and keep to these prinicples. It was a hugely impressive speech and rightly won praise from all quarters. He also stated clearly that it was a single issue he was resigning over and would continue to hounorably support those policies he agreed with from the backbenches.

    It was a lesson in principled politics that too few of our current MP’s of any party would have the moral fibre to follow.

  • “It was a lesson in principled politics that too few of our current MP’s of any party would have the moral fibre to follow.”

    A lesson lost on those screaming for Vince’s head for telling the truth or they might have realised just how ludicous that sounds considering what Nick has said and then done since the election campaign.

  • @Sesenco

    “So Robin Cook was an appeaser, but you admire him for being an appeaser. It’ll take me a while to get my head round that one.”

    As usual, you have intentionally misunderstood my point: I admired Robin Cook for his principled stand and his courage as I have always admired individual politicians who have the courage to stand alone and oppose the herd on a matter of principle. cf., Steve Way, above. That I disagreed with Robin Cook is irrelevant. When is Vince Cable going to show courage and follow Robin Cook’s example?

    “And you want to state to own the “News of the Screws”? Is that so they can hack our phones legally?”

    What aspect of the meaning of the word “regulate” do you not understand?

    @ Matt. Many thanks for your support.

    @Steve Way.
    I agree with your comments about Robin Cook absolutely, even though I disagreed with him on (the single issue) of Iraq.

  • @ Sesenco

    If Vince Cable was absolutely right to declare war on Murdoch and was articulating what you and I and obviously many others believe, then surely he should have told Cameron to stuff his job, not lamely have accepted his own emasculation. Or is it just that “declaring war on Murdoch” seemed a good macho line to use in front of a couple of young, attractive women?

  • MacK,

    I see that you have repeated your absurd characterisation of Saddam Hussein as a “nascent Hitler”. In 1939, Adolf Hitler had a vast military at his disposal that was a clear and present threat to all of Germany’s neighbours. In 2003, Saddam Hussein had a clapped-out remnant of an Army which the United States managed to defeat in three days.

    “What aspect of the meaning of the word “regulate” do you not understand?”

    It’s actually a verb, known as “to regulate”. But let’s not be too pedantic. All public sector actors are regulated, including the Police and the Security Services, none of which has ever hacked a phone.

  • MacK,

    Your insinuation of ungentlemanly behaviour on the part of Vince Cable is absolutely scurrilous and is the kind of stuff one would expect to read in the, er, “News of the Screws” (unregulated, naturally).

    Vince Cable has tried to use his role in government to sort out the country’s economic mess. That means swallowing a lot of unpalatable things. True, it is not a role that I would myself accept, but I respect his decision to give it a try.

    Did you ever have a problem with Tony Benn (who wanted to nationalise the banks and goodness knows what else) serving in the governments of Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan that accepted the IMF loan and capitulated to the forces of capitalism (as Benn’s supporters saw it)? How do you feel about those genuine socialists in the Labour Party who continued to work for Blair-Mandelson, depite the massive incompatibility of their political belief systems?

    The tone of moral righteousness we hear from Labourites on this site is somewhat hollow. For when we probe them on issues like Iraq and Murdoch, and Blair-Mandelson, we find them scoring political points rather than addressing the real, and uncomfortable, issues.

  • @Sesenco

    “I see that you have repeated your absurd characterisation of Saddam Hussein as a “nascent Hitler”. In 1939, Adolf Hitler had a vast military at his disposal that was a clear and present threat to all of Germany’s neighbours. In 2003, Saddam Hussein had a clapped-out remnant of an Army which the United States managed to defeat in three days.”

    I know that it’s inconvenient for you but I used the qualifier, “nascent” deliberately. If we had destroyed Hitler back in the early thirties when he was still nascent he would not have achieved the military supremacy he did later and caused the world so much pain. I do not think that anyone who endured the terrors of Hussein’s regime would have described his army as “clapped out” It was feared all over the Middle East. I am glad that we destroyed Hussein while he was still ‘nascent’. Who knows what Hitleresque achievements he would have tried to emulate otherwise?

    I was not attributing ungentlemanly behaviour to Vince Cable. I merely suggested that he could not resist the temptation to boast in front of two attractive women whom he assumed were his constituents. That would only have been human. I am not the only one to have made this observation. I have heard it from the mouths of serious journalists and none of them worked for “The News of the Screws” I even heard it on the BBC.

    “Did you ever have a problem with Tony Benn (who wanted to nationalise the banks and goodness knows what else) serving in the governments of Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan that accepted the IMF loan and capitulated to the forces of capitalism (as Benn’s supporters saw it)? How do you feel about those genuine socialists in the Labour Party who continued to work for Blair-Mandelson, depite the massive incompatibility of their political belief systems?”

    I have never had any problem with genuine socialists in the Labour Party. To be pedantic I must point out that, although it has passed into mythology that the IMF loan was accepted, it was never actually used. It was simply the offer that was accepted and held the loan in reserve. We got out of the mess left us by the Tories through some cuts and the encouragement of growth by ourselves without the loan.

    As you think I’m only in the busieness of scoring political points: Clegg had no qualms about demanding Speaker Martin’s head: so why couldn’t he demand Vince Cable’s?

    By the way, you have excelled yourself with captious comments this time.

  • MacK,

    “If we had destroyed Hitler back in the early thirties when he was still nascent he would not have achieved the military supremacy he did later and caused the world so much pain.”

    On what basis could “we” have done this, and with what?

    “It was feared all over the Middle East.”

    The Americans defeated it in three days. So it was evidently a lot less feared than the Vietcong or the Taliban.

    “I am glad that we destroyed Hussein while he was still ‘nascent’.”

    I think you’ve got your time-line a little muddled. Saddam Hussein came to power in 1978, a full 25 years before the Americans deposed him. So he was hardly “nascent”. He might well have been “nascent” when the Americans encouraged him to invade Iran and persuaded their surrogates to arm him to the teeth. People of your persuasion were saying at the time that because both Iraq and Iran were obstructions to US foreign policy objectives, “we” should encourage them to weaken each other as much as possible (“bloody foreigners killing other bloody foreigners”, as the late Alan Clark used to put it).

    “Who knows what Hitleresque achievements he would have tried to emulate otherwise?”

    You mean things like invading sovereign states, waterboarding, exceptional rendition, etc?

    “I was not attributing ungentlemanly behaviour to Vince Cable.”

    Er… Your actual text (see above) belies your denial.

    “I have never had any problem with genuine socialists in the Labour Party.”

    Neither do you have a problem, evidently, with dissembling neocon stooges and those incredibly relaxed about people getting filthy rich. Sorry to keep going on about this, but there is a need to point to the essentially hollow nature of the righteous indignation that flows from the mouths of Labourites on this site.

    “By the way, you have excelled yourself with captious comments this time.”

    I’m underwhelmed.

  • @Sesenco

    Let me put this in terms that you might understand. Your party is the one with the problem. You are at 8% in the polls. My party is leading the polls after just a few months of being ejected from office. You have to get your party into the position that my party is in. So, what are you going to DO about it? Trying to childishly prove that I have a flawed political history might amuse you but it will not advance your cause. The Lib Dems can either leave the coalition or make life much more difficult for the Tories. I would suggest the latter because it would make you look less weak and would, eventually have the same effect of the former over time, but more to your advantage. MPs who make severely critical comments and then retract them under pressure of losing their ministerial jobs just look like plonkers. The only way for Lib Dem MPs to regain their self respect and their seats at the next election
    is for them individually to peel off and cross the house. As the number of Lib Dem MPs decrease Cameron will have to be more accommodating, only he can’t, because his backbenchers won’t stand for it. He will then have to call an election or put up with his policies going under. That way Lib Dem MPs will exercise much greater control of events. When Cameron calls the election he will be seen as the man who couldn’t hold the coalition together. I’m only trying to be helpful. Honestly.

  • MacK,

    I don’t think Liberal Democrats should be looking for advice from a party that earlier this year crashed to its second worst election defeat since the Second World War. However much pesonal abuse you hurl at me, you are not going to get away from that simple, ground truth. Labour betrayed its principles. A party set up to fight for the working-class sold out to the bosses so completely that it increased the gap between rich and poor, grovelled to a succession of plutocrats, allowed the banks to wreck the economy, too away our civil liberties and was so subservient to its masters in Washington that it participated in an illegal war of conquest against a sovereign state.

    As a necon and cheerleader for US imperialism who has expressed a desire to reignite the Cold War, I can well understand your loyalty to such a party. Don’t expect Liberal Democrats to fall for your faux moral indigation. Our memories are far too long for that!

  • Still playing the man and not the ball, I see!

  • @Sesenco

    “I don’t think Liberal Democrats should be looking for advice from a party that earlier this year crashed to its second worst election defeat since the Second World War.”

    Er . .. just remind me when the Liberal Democrats were elected with substantial governing majorities at three successive General Elections? We must have been doing something right!

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