On the eleventh day of Christmas...


pipersMy true love sent to me: eleven pipers piping. It might refer to the eleven loyal apostles. In politics too you can never be sure of the total loyalty of your supporters, particularly since so many of them are vying for a better job. I am not sure that Vince Cable is vying for a better job – indeed, he was very reluctant to take the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer, which was his for the asking. So he became Business Secretary.

Or perhaps Anti-business Secretary. His intended conference speech, trailed as usual well in advance, seemed to hostile to businesspeople that he was forced to justify his remarks by (mis)quoting Adam Smith. Smith did indeed point out that businesspeople seldom got together without trying to rig prices and carve up the market: but he then goes on to say that it is government regulation that encourages them and enables them to succeed. No mention of that from Vince, of course.

Now his disparaging remarks on Rupert Murdoch – who I guess has done more than anybody to drag the UK media out of the Soviet era – have forced his boss to take him off the Sky BSB ownership case. His opinions seem to show him up as the former Labour councillor he is, someone who would have been much happier in coalition with Gordon Brown. And his unguarded criticism, not just about businesspeople but about the whole thrust of the coalition, show him up too as an ex-academic rather than a good politician: it is easy to make bold assertions when you have no power to do anything about them, but in government you have to keep silent occasionally for the good of the whole project.

People say that the coalition need to keep Vince, just as Blair had to keep John Prescott, because he secures the Party's left: 'Vince is Vince', and you just put up with it. I don't think so. Like Syme in 1984, he speaks too plainly. The Party does not like these people. He will be vaporized.