Vince Cable the UK coalition’s Secretary of State for Business, innovations and skills who was in danger of losing his ministerial post before Christmas, but was reprieved by PM David Cameron in a move to keep him in-post after making ill-judged comments about Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take full control of BSkyB, is not as much to be seen at public engagements as previously.
The transfer of ministerial responsibility, was a mild action, after his apparent pre-judgement of the merits of Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take full control of BSkyB. Most commentators suggest that due to Vince’s very senior standing within the Liberal party, his departure from his role as the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, would have been just too unsettling to contemplate. To the Liberal coalition back-benchers, already severely under pressure from constituents from their party’s support of some very un-liberal coalition policies, this may have been too much to bear.
As it is, it was decided before Christmas that he will stay as Secretary of State for Business, but he will not be involved in any of the decision making when the government has to make a quasi-judicial decision about allowing News Corp’s bid for broadcaster BSkyB, to go through. Cable has clearly been politically wounded by the event, and has given few if any interviews since.
Cameron also has problems within his part organisation, given that News International faces pressure over allegations of illegal phone hacking at the News of the World, and Andy Coulson, Cameron’s communications director, resigned as editor of the News of the World in 2007. However, compared with Vince Cable, his has been an easy ride.
Yet, when you look at Vince Cable’s previously declared principles, he has been bending from his election promises more than almost any other politician in recent history. It may be that he is doing it for the greater good of the UK coalition government, but for how long he can survive as a politician must be open to question.
Since the election last May, Vince Cable has provided additional clout, as well as populism, to the Lib Dem cause by professing to be taking the role as economic wise man and the one person most likely to actually find a way to reduce bank bonus payments, and top bank employee wage, excesses. At the election each party strove to outdo the other with their toughness on fat cat banker greed. Many are asking where, if anywhere, is that in evidence now.
However, the events since his unguarded comments, on News Corp’s bid for broadcaster BSkyB, seem to suggest that Vince Cable is now more engaged with the idea to getting himself off this political hook than forcing the Conservatives to take manifesto promised measures.
At the last election, the Lib Dems pledged to abolish tuition fees. Vince Cable now appears to have changed his mind. In fact he has hailed the introduction of £9,000 tuition fees in England as “progressive”.