Thursday, 23 December 2010

Cable Conducts Storm

this is my requested response on the subject to the Evening Standard


Vince Cable is clearly still the lightning rod capable of conducting the flow of political events!

The Business Sec's remarks can be considered to have damaged his internal standing within the coalition and reduced his influence, but by stating the obvious he has regained some sympathy at large within the country for his party too - which will certainly help in the forthcoming Oldham by-election where a strong LibDem showing is vital to maintaining membership confidence in party leaders.

Under discussionImage by Steve Punter via FlickrDr Cable has demonstrated in essence that LibDems are engaging in heavy-weight policy discussions behind the scenes with all the voluable disagreements one should expect in any serious grown-up discussion. This will reassure many that policies are being decided on their merits, despite ongoing anxiety about the speed of announcements. The fact that the differences between the parties have been kept under wraps until now is a testament to the determination of both sides to make the coalition work in the national interest.

LibDem ministers have made their point that they aren't attached to power for its own sake, but they can no longer bluff their way through vital upcoming discussions - and this will also satisfy right-wingers that their own concerns are not being completely overlooked.

In particular Vince Cable's public exhortation against Rupert Murdoch is evidence of ruthless calculation, not a gaffe.

It is common knowledge LibDems are worried about the imbalance in media power represented by NewsCorp, but the tide has been against preventing a takeover of the BSkyB (it is already effectively under Murdoch's control with a 39% holding, and has long been treated as such by government departments) since the precedent set by the last government with its decision on ITV. So the handover of the decision-making power to the prominent Murdoch cheerleader and tory Culture Sec Jeremy Hunt MP can be considered a concession with an obvious outcome.

However the manner in which this give and take was made was a matter of delicate manoeuvering and Cable's only real option was to disqualify himself from the task by whatever means he had at his disposal so as to avoid the political booby-trap of further angering his own supporter base. With Tuition Fees it was the lesser of two evils, but BSkyB was Hobson's Choice.

The trade-off between Cable's personal and public standing somewhat neutralises his 'nuclear option' by setting out some much needed boundaries (such as on certain totemic welfare measures) which bolsters the Cameron-Clegg partnership by giving each side a bit of what they want. As a result the separate identities in the interdependent coalition relationship are more clearly defined.

And LibDems certainly aren't displeased to see Ed Miliband make a complete reversal of his strategy overnight - one day LibDems were shielding ideological tories, the next their attacks on the hardliners are impotent. That's the man who leads the official opposition and hopes to replace the coalition, and he can't even hold a consistent line with himself!



Merry Christmas Oranjepan.

asquith said...

I share Vince's sentiments. He probably had to be slapped down as he was indiscreet & may have been letting his views jeapordise his work.

But is this really different to what, say, Guido Westerwelle does in Germany? This country (especially if the AV referendum goes through) needs to get used to the concept that pluralism, not tribalism, is the way forward. You get whoever you like best elected, then yur political work goes on.

I would have voted for Obama, I would in 2012, but he plainly isn't the Messiah. His right move on DADT was clearly a result of pressure from his gay supporters, who didn't just sit back & shut up.

The coalition have got their problems & some days it seems they aren't even an improvement on Labour. So that's why it becomes our responsibility to campaign for what it is we want, outside party politics if need be.

I have to say that I dislike this talk of an electoral pact. The coalition parties can both point to specific things & say "That was us. Give us as strong a voice as possible & we'll do it again" which avoids mindless tribalism, but preserves independence.

What decision does crystal ball say Hunt will reach? I think we know it's all politics, I'm vaguely expecting him to rule against Murdoch because he can already foresee the accusations of being a stooge if he doesn't, whereas there is relatively little to gain from expressing support for him.

Merry Christmas too!

asquith said...

"I share Vince's sentiments BUT he probably had to be slapped down".

That bit was slightly unclear, sorry. What I'm saying is that we are free to call Murdoch a cunt but he isn't. I won't be expressing any feigned outrage though.

Oranjepan said...

Keep swinging Gideon!

Hi Squiff,
I find it hard to believe Hunt will rule against Murdoch - on what grounds?

I agree with you that tribalism is backward-looking, but each of the tribes have made deep investments in their brands and will be loathe to let go completely... even LibDems - many of whom are rumoured to have anti-Daily Mail and anti-Murdoch tattoos in intimate places!

For my own part I promote the value of balance in a democratic and pluralistic world - and the paradoxic nature of trend and counter-trend.

Having a divisive figure such as a Murdoch (and a mooted version of Fox News UK) creates a helpful media totem to rally both for and against, just as angry lefties oppose the editorial line of the DM so too mono-brow conservatives are traditionally set against the 'balanced' agenda set by the BBC.

And that's a problem - balance comes in different forms, and it therefore creates a considerable challenge to weigh the narrower forms of balance against balance in the broader context.

It's an interesting question whether ideological rallying points such as (shudder) Spiked, or (double shudder) Liberal Conspiracy do more to build support or resistance to what they stand for. For certain they harden the views of the true beleivers, but they can also work to soften the views of the less convinced.

So, just as long as legitimate difference of opinion exists I'm all for having outlets for views I disagree with.

On one level it provides an insight into the minds of those 'others' and can offer hints at effective tactics to defeat their views, and on another it's pure comedic entertainment!

I mean, 'today's headlines are tomorrow's chip wrappers' still contains an essential truth.