James Forsyth

Broken Cable

Broken Cable
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To understand why Vince Cable survived today one has to understand the dynamics of the coalition. The Liberal Democrat rank and file have had to swallow a lot recently, but the idea that one of their Cabinet ministers was going to be moved for being rude about Rupert Murdoch would have been too much to bear. The backlash to shunting Cable sideways would have destabilised the coalition, so he stayed in place.

But Cable tonight is a much diminished figure. He has been shown to be eager to be indiscrete, to be overly keen to air the coalition’s dirty laundry in public. His comments about being at ‘war’ with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire when he was involved in decisions over its takeover attempt of BSkyB also revealed a temperament unsuited to the responsibilities of office. He has with his use of the word ‘Maoist’ outed himself as a source for Andrew Rawnsley, though this is probably the least of his worries tonight.

One consequence of all this is that Cable’s ability to fight his corner on bankers’ bonuses has been much reduced. Having caused all this trouble, he’ll won’t be able to make his points as forcefully as he would have been before this episode. Expect the coalition’s final policy on this most sensitive of subjects to be far closer to Osborne’s position than Cable’s.