Keith Newbery: Vince Cable - trapped by his own hubris

Poor old Vince Cable. He’s now lumbered with being part of a coalition he clearly loathes for as long as it lasts.

Having boasted of possessing a ‘nuclear option’ to bring down the government and ‘declaring war’ on the Murdoch empire, the Business Secretary revealed a previously unsuspected streak of braggadocio in his makeup.

He has now been trapped by his own hubris and will not be able to stalk out of the government a la Heseltine in a spasm of self-righteous indignation for fear of looking even more foolish than he does now.

The Cleggeron may well decide to be rid of him some time next year, but he is safe for the moment because his removal right now would be like snatching away the corner bale in a house of straw.

But as he peers through the prison bars of his own making, Cable knows he has become a greatly-diminished figure in the coalition.

His hard-won reputation as the sage of the Liberal Democrats and the moderating influence on an uneasy convocation of political opportunists, now lies in ruins.

His loose-lipped humiliation is a fate waiting to befall all Lib Dems, who for generations have become accustomed to shouting their mouths off without ever having to back up their words with actions.

Suddenly – certainly at the level at which Cable now operates – what they say actually counts for something.

For decades he and his colleagues have dined on a rich diet of principles and idealism, knowing they would never have to pick up the bill.

But responsibility means they now have to adapt to more austere fare – and they are not taking well to being force-fed large doses of pragmatism.

After Cable’s vain and naive outburst - the sort of thing that goes down a storm at conference fringe meetings – one man is smiling quietly to himself.

Rupert Murdoch knows only too well that even though the Business Secretary has been removed from any decision-making role in News Corporation’s bid to take over BSkyB, the deal is now as good as done.

Cable’s bombast will be regarded in law as a government attempt to influence the outcome of an independent Ofcom inquiry.

Murdoch’s team said they were ‘shocked and dismayed.’

Are they hell. They’re delighted.


Someone recently described Bruce Forsyth’s increasingly febrile contribution to Strictly Come Dancing as being less like a star turn and more like care in the community.

From the indulgent little jig at the start of the show, to the desperate dependence on the autocue, it is like watching an old busker go through the motions during one tune too many.

He is patronised by both audience and co-performers as he tries to make a virtue out of corny material.

Will somebody please give the old boy the knighthood he craves so he can do a soft-shoe shuffle into permanent retirement?