Before the election Vince Cable was one of the most-respected men in Parliament. A man of great maturity, exprience who had a level-headed view of reality. His rise to public awareness was on the back of the financial crisis which he claimed to have predicted – although a wider reading of his work and quotes brings into question the precision of his prescience.
I don’t believe it requires a Doctor of Economics to have noticed that debt and house prices were sprialling out of control and that at some point the bubble was about to burst. No one this side of the Atlantic, including Vince Cable, were aware of the reckless fragility of the sub-prime market and the subsequent commoditisation of the debt into securities that turned “toxic”. Nonetheless Cable managed to wander in and out of reality on a very technical subject that the majority of the population perhaps do not fully understand.
His acclaim on this issue built up his political capital in the lead up to the election and he performed well in the Chancellor’s live TV debate. He never appeared pompous, or overly meandering in his explanations, or oblique in his responses to direct questions. As a man in his late 60’s he built a reputation as a trusty elder statesman – a safe pair of hands, a man you want in your team – a reliable sage.
With the inevitable, but still slightly surprising election result, and subsequent coalition talks, the Liberal Democrats found themselves in a position of power which meant that they now had to deliver ( See: Nick Clegg: The Perils of Power ). From this point, and in the following months, the effect of that power on Cable started to draw him in. He started to believe in the image that the media gave him. His latent narcissistic tendencies puffed up his feeling of self-importance to an extent that was disproportionate to any reality.
The die was now cast for the “sting”, and the 2 undercover reporters (Holly Watt and Laura Roberts) secured the opportunity for a private constituency meeting. I doubt that they were expecting the sort of quotes that they managed to secure.
The quotes from the Daily Telegraph are very telling using metaphors of war, weapons of mass destruction, and having ultimate power to destroy the government:
“Can I be very frank with you, and I am not expecting you to quote this outside. I have a nuclear option, it’s like fighting a war. They know I have nuclear weapons, but I don’t have any conventional weapons. If they push me too far then I can walk out of the government and bring the government down and they know that. So it is a question of how you use that intelligently without getting involved in a war that destroys all of us. That is quite a difficult decision to be in and I am picking my fights. Some of which you may have seen”
The second extract to be released, which relates to the take-over of BSkyB by News Corp takes this even further.
“I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we’re going to win”“I have blocked it, using the powers that I have got. And they are legal powers that I have got. I can’t politicise it, but for the people who know what is happening, this is a big thing. His whole empire is now under attack. So there are things like that, that being in Government … All we can do in opposition is protest.”
A rather prescient Paul Sagar in the Liberal Conspiracy stated about Cable’s time in coalition:
” I predict that this experience will break Cable; that he will leave office disillusioned and wracked with guilt about what he’s found himself complicit in”
This related more directly to the cuts, but I believe the sentiment still holds good.
One always assumed Cable to be discreet, professional, and highly sensitive to the political maelstrom that can be caused by idle conversation. That was before he was confronted by a couple of reporters posing as Lib Dem voters in his constituency. Judging only by the tape recording, I sense that there was a hint of coquettishness on their part, some vulnerability, and no doubt youth and attractiveness. This quaint charm exploited his narcissism one step too far, and the all-pervading wish to impress women (exhibit male virility and further engorge his self-image) subverted his normally staid persona and his id overruled his ego, and super-ego. This was the political and platonic form of “honey trap”; if the reporters were 2 male youths then this would not have happened and Cable would not have been caught.
Once again, the influence and connection between power and sex has illustrated itself in the public glare, and the dependable Vince Cable is the latest victim.