Humbled, diminished and embarrassed. What did Vince Cable do? Wake up hung-over and naked on a park bench in Westminster?
I would gladly wage war against Rupert Murdoch. He has been a nefarious influence on the political and cultural life of the UK for decades. Alas, nobody cares what I think or do, and so I could threaten to rip off the aul’ fucker’s arms and beat him with the wet end and draw very little attention to myself. Alternatively, when Vince Cable says he wants to block Murdoch’s ambitions, it’s considered such a faux pas that the Business Secretary is reportedly humbled, diminished and embarrassed.
Vince committed the cardinal sin in contemporary politics and offered an opinion that is contrary to the prevailing politics within the Westminster bubble. Some might say he should’ve learnt his lesson after the student fees debacle, when the Lib Dems set before voters a clear political policy and after the election found they rued the day. To be clear, on that occasion the Lib Dems were not sorry that they broke a promise, they were sorry they made any such pre-election promise at all. So in future manifestos we can expect to see some vague reference to ‘values’ and ‘aspirations’, all expressed in the hope that the media and voters will have the good grace not to press too hard for specific policies.
Vince Cable is being punished because he flew in the face of such anodyne politics. It’s just a pity he had to be tricked into making public a perfectly defensible political opinion.
But why the brouhaha? Why does the Business Secretary have to display impartiality on the issue of media ownership? Will the new man responsible for ruling on News Corp’s bid to take full control of BSkyB, Jeremy Hunt, be impartial? Hunt had a meeting with Rupert Murdoch’s son, James, shortly after News Corp made its offer to BSkyB. He was careful not to take any civil servants with him, so we’ll never know for sure what was said. That will remain private, unlike Vince Cable’s ‘controversial’ opposition to Murdoch.
Cable’s embarrassment at having been caught voicing a political opinion, like his party’s regret at having made election commitments, is indicative of the UK’s increasingly sclerotic politics. What’s going on in the Westminster bubble when voicing a political opinion is a bad thing but a secretive meeting is fine?