Even though he was a bit grudging in his review of Prelude to Power (aka ‘perfect Father’s Day gift’ according to some publicist via some twitterer called @campbellclaret) George Parker of the FT remains a political journalist I don’t mind reading (this is high praise in my lexicon of judgements on political journalists).
In his pre-Budget report today is tucked away a fascinating line, namely … ‘Senior Lib Dems whisper that Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary, never really believed his pre-election rhetoric that cuts should be delayed until 2011.’
I think this is worth repeating … ‘Senior Lib Dems whisper that Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary, never really believed his pre-election rhetoric that cuts should be delayed until 2011.’
Fascinating, fascinating, fascinating. So the man who became, variously, ‘everyone’s favourite politician,’ ‘the politician who got it right all along,’ ‘the politician who really understands the economy’, ‘the one politician you can trust to tell the truth’ believed none of it all along. He was just waiting for Dave and Nick to cuddle up in bed together, plan the cuts, and he would happily leap from one set of economic and political beliefs to another.
Now it could be of course that the Lib Dem whisperers are not Mr Cable, or anyone close to him, but what might be called Clegg-ites, or Danny Alexander-ites, who are so pleased to be in government that they will do and say pretty much anything Dave or George tell them to.
And it may further be that they hear the noises of Vince’s discontent, and possible rumblings that he doesn’t think the coalition is sustainable, so they feel they have to do a bit of VC re-education programming via the paper they know he is most likely to read.
Of course we all remember from the election that if you voted Lib Dem, you would see an end to spin, and also you would see politicians who did the old-fashioned thing of saying one thing to get elected, and then doing it when they got elected. Remember that one? Oh, it was one of Cleggy’s favourites.
But that was before this amazing thing happened a few days after May 6. They discovered GREECE. Yes, they had never heard of Greece until then. We know Clegg speaks a few hundred languages but Greek is not one of them, so we can forgive him for not having heard of Greece until he was in his nice big office close to Dave’s place.
Not only did he hear of Greece, but also they discovered, via the new Office for Budget Responsibility, that the economy was in an even worse shape than Dave and George had been saying during the campaign when they said we were Greece (Nick can’t have been listening at the time because he only heard of Greece on May 11) Only in fact the OBR was not saying that at all, but Dave and George told Nick and Danny they had to say that the OBR HAD said that, because the media loves them, you see, and if they say it often enough, the media will ignore what the OBR actually says, and report instead what D and G, and N and D, say they said. It’s not spin, you understand, just that we’re all in this together.
So Greece, OBR and then of course all those terrible Labour people throwing around money that didn’t exist… like a loan to a company in Sheffield (note the word loan btw … something that can come back with interest once its job has been done). Then there were all those big ticket items like free swimming for kids and pensioners. I mean, come on, these are bank-breakers…
I was presenting awards at a dinner after the England match last night and for the second time this week, I found Clegg really does work as the butt of humour, much better than D and G, because the public sense that when it comes to waving the axe at things like free swimming or new hospitals, the Tories really enjoy it and believe in it, but the public know Clegg campaigned – and somehow became DPM – on a totally different tack. He used to believe that if you cut back on the stimulus to the economy before it is growing properly, you risked pushing up unemployment and risking a double dip recession.
So did Cable, who looks increasingly like a Prisoner of War. The ‘Senior Lib Dems whisper’ briefings of re-education are part of his punishment routine, but over time they hope a version of the Stockholm syndrome will kick in. But I hear from inside Lib Dem HQ that he continues to let people know of his doubts and concerns, whilst simultaneously facing the other way – or trying to – in public.
It is not very seemly though, is it, when the only way these people can justify the total volte face they have made on their economic agenda is to say they never believed the one they fought on at the election? I thank Mr George Parker for this piece of reporting. At least the Tories are the same old Tories. Increasingly the Lib Dems are coming over as a bunch of charlatans.
*** Buy Prelude to Power here at Amazon. Or, as it is the ‘perfect Father’s Day present’, give Holland v Japan a miss and get down to Waterstone’s. They might even have it properly stocked by now.