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Something's bugging me

Nick Robinson | 14:19 UK time, Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Vince Cable was sacked yesterday - not from the cabinet of course but from "all responsibility for competition and policy issues relating to media, broadcasting, digital and telecoms sectors" which will be transferred immediately to the secretary of state for culture, media and sport. He survived as secretary of state for (rather less) business (than before).

Vince Cable

 

This, some will say, is vindication of the Telegraph's decision to send undercover reporters into MPs' offices posing as constituents to record what they heard. The public, they argue, has a right to know the private policy disagreements of those around the cabinet table. Besides, they may add, Vince Cable spoke candidly to two total strangers who could have called a paper with the story or written a blog post about it even if they weren't reporters themselves. I am not convinced.

Undercover reporting is legitimate, necessary indeed, to uncover wrongdoing. At the BBC a decision to carry hidden cameras or microphones requires high-level prior authorization and prima facie evidence of wrongdoing. It's been used with great effect to expose football hooligans, violent racists, fraudsters and the like. I know that the paper's executives considered the press complaints code and the law before deciding to proceed, but where was the evidence of wrongdoing amongst Liberal Democrat ministers which justified bugging them?

Be clear: the one thing the paper was not examining was the business secretary's attitude to the takeover of BSkyB. It was Vince Cable who raised the subject of BSkyB's bid, not the undercover reporters. It's now obvious why: Cable was the ally of the Telegraph which wants to block the advance of the Murdoch empire. The truth is they stumbled across a story which Robert Peston then scooped them on.

The paper's stated aim was to highlight the gap between ministers' private conversations and their public statements - in other words, to expose hypocrisy. This argument could have been used to justify the bugging of ministers in any government. Should reporters have bugged Gordon Brown to reveal his policy disagreements with Tony Blair or Liam Fox and David Cameron?

Now I should declare an interest. Political correspondents thrive on hearing, analysing and reporting on the gap between private and public statements. Save the Murdoch story, none of what Lib Dem ministers said in private comes as a surprise to me. I would suggest, however, that the idea that Lib Dems are worried about child benefit and housing cuts would not come as a surprise to anyone who follows politics.

Some might believe - in the spirit of Wikileaks - that it would be better for what some see as a cosy Westminster club to be smashed so that the public can hear everything for themselves. After all, they might argue, political journalism did not reveal the MPs' expenses scandal. It took a leak and the Telegraph's willingness to risk a political storm.

Here's why that argument doesn't convince me. Starting from today, politicians will be more wary about what they say to their own constituents, more suspicious of journalists and more keen to meet behind closed doors without the risk of microphones, cameras, prying eyes and straining ears. Candour will be less common, not more.

Sympathy with politicians is in short supply so perhaps the easiest way to think about this is to ask yourself this: how would you feel if that chat about a relative, a workmate or a boss at the water cooler, in the canteen or at the pub was secretly taped, transcribed and distributed in order to expose your hypocrisy?

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Save the Murdoch story, none of what Lib Dem ministers said in private comes as a surprise to me. I would suggest, however, that the idea that Lib Dems are worried about child benefit and housing cuts would not come as a surprise to anyone who follows politics.
    -------------
    Indeed, and that they in public profess support for the sake of collective responsibility is unsurprising as well, as they are going over concerns behind the scenes and no doubt getting things in return back if conservative complaints are any indication. Attempts to make private reservations equate to the whole thing being a sham would be as false as saying Labour cannot possibly have really been in power for 13 years, despite the evidence, because privately there were often very serious disagreements between people at the very top and shams cannot last.

    You are right, Nick, abour sympathy for politicians being in short supply; this is one area where they might get more than usual, if not by any means universally.

  • Comment number 2.

    I don`t think there is anything that Cable or any Lib Dem ministers said that surprises. One is only surprised that the silly old fool feel for the charms of two giggly girls.The Telegraph themselves are clearly intent on bringing down the Coalition and I smelt a rat when Robert Peston suddenly appeared with a scope. I think we all know where he used to get his scopes from! Xmas will come and go and all of this will soon be forgotten. Rather perversely though this local difficulty may do the LibDems a bit of good. I think their supporters may now have a different take on the Coalition and it may just work to their party`s advantage at the forthcoming by election. Labour are just being opportunistic as usual and must be keeping their fingers crossed that some of their MPs have not been secretly taped speaking candidly about Ed Miliband! The big question though is why, without any evidence of wrongdoing, is a newspaper now bugging our elected representatives. What god given right do they think they have to do that? The Telegraph has gone too far this time and I hope someone lodges a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission.

  • Comment number 3.

    These days politicians lie, deceive and ignore the public. They are meant to be our representatives (or delegates) but whatever, they work for us and should be accountable to us. Instead, every 5 years they start a new round of lies to get our votes and then just cry "National Security" to everything (or ignore questions, only allow interviews from supporting organisations, etc.) or just tell more lies.

    We need this type of reporting so we can establish what is being done in our name, on our behalf and with our money. If politicians behaved a bit more honourably then maybe such investigation would not be necessary - but they don't and we should know what is happening.

    Of course it should be recorded as, somebody says "Guess what Dr. Vince told me ... devastating and when published he will lose his job ...". the immediate response would be "evidence ?" and publish without evidence and expect every regulatory body to be on you in minutes (plus allegations of slander, etc. from whoever your story is critical about).

    Politicians have brought this type of investigation on themselves through their secrecy and lies.

  • Comment number 4.

    The saddest thing is that when Murdoch gets the nod to have the whole of Sky - and in a few months time, the go ahead to formally take over Virgin Media's old channels, which is also on the cards, it will simply reveal to us who pulls the strings in Government. Of course, we knew it all along anyway - but the very fact that the PM and Deputy have so desperately patched this up and poured oil on the waters is simply proof of the nauseating truth. Disgusting frankly.

  • Comment number 5.

    Nick, you say:

    "Cable was the ally of the Telegraph which wants to block the advance of the Murdoch empire."

    Which begs the question - why run the story as they did?

    I suspect the position for Murdoch is now so strengthened as to almost guarantee his success.

    None of this analysis of the motivation or methods amongst journalists is really necessary however, is it? They are not interested so much in reporting a story. They want to "create" the stories and personality and tittle-tattle allows them to lead the news. Journalism is one step away from a phone-in show.

    Cart-leading-horse journalism is now the norm.

  • Comment number 6.

    The under-handed tactics employed by the 'Telegraph' are bordering on those used by the 'Red Top' titles and not we expect of what I used to see as a responsible newspaper. If this is the only way they can obtain a "story" the press is becoming more and more meaningless.

    You're right, Nick, something bugs me about all of this but for New Labour to start yelling Cable should do the "honourable" thing when for 13 years no-one in their ranks ever did smacks of hypocrisy!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Nick - you journalists and those politicians you spend too much time with are in a parallel universe to the one most of us inhabit.
    Over here - in the real world - we all applaud Vince for saying what he said about Murdoch. Just listen to the radio comments this morning where the unamimous verdict is that YOU LOT are all wrong and that WE are all right.
    Long live Vince - shame on Cameron for continuing to support the stupid rules of politics that keep us all from reality.
    Double shame on Clegg for not supporting the bloke who gave him credibility.
    Shame on the lot of you for not seeing the public mood change since the expenses shambles - journos & politicos - bah POOO & piffle!!

  • Comment number 8.

    There's a fine line between unethical behaviour and decieving a politician to acquire information in the public interest. I believe that the Telegraph crossed this line. It also chose to suppress the information that might reasonably have been regarded as being in the public inteerst (the Murdoch story) because they knew it wouldn't help their cause against the Murdoch empire. that wasn't very ethical either. I also agree that the result of this (& Wikileaks) will be that politicians and other public figures (& civil servants, etc) will communicate less, in a more controlled way & we'll end up knowing less. Of course, politicians haven't helped themselves (cf celebs) by milking the media when they want to - and the well-judged "personal" story given to a selected journalist has been a well-used route. But i wonder if someone was to carry out the same tactics on Telegraph or BBC journalists, how many would welcome the embarrassment? Of course, you could argue Cable was a twit & probably caught in the familiar trap of being fawned on by pretty young women - but they misrepresented themselves, probably lied. No doubt they feel pleased with what they've achieved, but if I was one of their parents I'd be ashamed of ther behaviour & would regard them as dishnorourable as the paper they work for for being prepared to use such tactics.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hang on a minute Nick, Cable shouldn't have been saying things like that about his role as Business Sec to regular constituents whatever the circumstances. I think you're extrapolating wildly from something which would have been an error of judgement whether or not the people had been reporters or not.

  • Comment number 10.

    Advice I once gave my daughter of seven summers: "if you don't want anyone to find out about it, don't do it". Simple as that. Now, of course, politicians have to share their innermost thoughts with somebody, or how can they test and refine them? My advice to politicians is as simple as that I gave my daughter: "don't share your innermost thoughts with people you hardly know". Cable was wrecklessly indiscrete, and paid the price. Aah, if only I'd known him when he was seven...

  • Comment number 11.

    I genuinely feel sorry for Cable.

    What's he really guilty of? Sticking to the Lib Dem principles on Murdoch, when two voters in a Lib Dem consituency, came to speak to him, supposedly expecting to hear those Lib Dem principles?

    People seem shocked Cable was keen to talk up Lib Dem positions, when two voters, who have voted him in on those principles for 20 odd years, by huge majorities, came by?!

    You know, one thing I agree on - ministers can't go about talking about this stuff to voters. But at the same time, how many ministers have been in a position where their own parties principles are different to the prime ministers?

    Cable should stand down, but people need to remember, he's a Lib Dem MP, with a Lib Dem mandate, and he honours that.

    I find it despicable that he can't even talk to Lib Dem voters, about Lib Dem positions, without the fear of it being a media sting operation.......

    On a brighter note, for Vince, I'd say he's probably wrapped up the 2015 leadership election already!

    The next Lib Dem leader, is going to be the person who opposed the government the most. Not appeased it.

    I'd say a straight fight between Vince and Charlie Kennedy ;)

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree with Nick, this isn't international diplomatics, this is a conversation an MP has with his constituents.

    So if an MP went public about a constituents reliance on benefits would that be OK? How do we have the right to know what discussions take place between an MP and a member of the general public. This can only further damage the relationship between all MP's and their constituents in the name of some young cut throat journalist willing to sacrifice any ethics in the name of a good story.

    Cheap and nasty!

  • Comment number 13.

    Nick my sympathies do not lie with Vince Cable - he has shown that he is not a team player, and a bit of a fantasist drunk on his own self importance.

    My sympathies lie with the people of this country which are having to endure an extreme right wing government that no one voted for - It is key that he and other senior Lib dems have given cover for this Conservative led government.

    We need to call an election so that people can vote on this shambles of a government and its chaotic plans.

    The issue about the Telegraph being disreputable tawdry and partial well whats new they used control of the expenses information to undermine the previous Labour government - plus ca change.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    @Smartartz, Cable should be saying exactly things like that. His own views as an MP in discussion with his constituents.

    If not, who should an MP be talking to... Murdoch. Seriously please enlighten me!?

  • Comment number 16.

    "Undercover reporting is legitimate, necessary indeed, to uncover wrongdoing."

    That perhaps is part of the problem. I am never able to feel comfortable with this situation where people pose as something they are not in order to acquire information that will undermine someones position.

  • Comment number 17.

    This all seems a bit fishy to me. It has already been mentioned by certain people, that this situation could possibly work in favor of the Lib-Dem "powerhouses" in that some supporters might think that the Lib's are starting to show a backbone and defend their core values. I would suggest that given the information dilvulged in this conversation, and quite how readily Mr Cable decided to do so, that he wanted his comments to reach the general public, and as other people have observed, Mr Clegg probably isn't as "Dissapointed" as his own public statements might suggest.
    It always worries me when a lapdog starts growling. It usually means there is a poop coming

  • Comment number 18.

    I suspect Mr Murdoch has been having a quiet laugh over this whole affair. After all, he declared war on Gordon Brown and the Labour government and got his man elected, and now, come what may, he will have to have his take-over of BSkyB as Mr Hunt has not been unclear on his position re Mr Murdoch in the past. Also, The Daily Telegraph has committed editorial suicide (bet the Times sales are up today) and their leaker did not go to ITN, but the BBC and Mr Peston for immediate full radio and TV coverage. All very amusing, and on the day that the weather news was beginning to get boring, very welcome. Now, is there still a chance that the giggling girls might target Mr Clegg ? Now that would be juicy !

  • Comment number 19.

    Exposed again for what they are, the Lib/Cons cannot tell the truth about anything. Now let me try to remember ! Wasn't it Vince Cable who called Gordon Brown - Mr Bean ... When I saw Cable this morning getting into his car going off to the office he looked like Mr HAS BEAN like the rest of his crew.

  • Comment number 20.

    If a judge let somebody off lightly because of their own beliefs that that judge would be thrown off "the bench". e.g. say a judge who was very religious giving somebody a very very light sentence because the guilty party was also religious - big big trouble (exceptions being wives of ex. PMs). Same here. Whatever Dr Vince's personal opinions, we were paying him to act and behave as an independent accessor. He took our money and failed to fulfil that role. He still has responsibilities and the big question now is whether or not we can be confidant he can fulfil those for OUR best interests or wether his own personal prejudice will determine his decisions (and his own and our interests may have been the same in this case but that will not always be so).

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Nick, what hogwash! Boasting that you've declared war on someone to people you hardly know isn't candour, it's braggadocio. You'd roll your eyes if a thirteen year old said it, never mind a government minister. If undercover reporting spares us fom this kind of hubris it'll have done us all a favour. Vince the Macho Man? How absurd!

  • Comment number 23.

    The Telegraph targeted Open Surgeries, fot the basic fact that politicians are under immense pressure in them to stick ridgidly to individual party lines.

    What are these guys supposed to say to the Lib Dem voters they're relying on to stay in office?

    Oh, yeah, the tories are right on everything, and everything we said to get you to vote for us last time, is wrong.......

  • Comment number 24.

    I don't have a problem either with what the paper did or with what Cable said: as with most of the wikileaks 'revelations' its just confirmation of what most people already thought was happening.

    To hear that there is conflict only confirms my belief that the whole ConDem conspiracy is just a shabby power trip for the LibDems - they clearly do not share beliefs with the party of evil.

    I'm pleased to hear Cable resists the worst excesses of the public school boys.

    One thing I would still like to know about .... what are these other policies the party of evil wanted to push through and the LibDems stopped them?

    Do you or Robert Peston have any more whistle blowers to call upon?

  • Comment number 25.

    "how would you feel if that chat about a relative, a workmate or a boss at the water cooler, in the canteen or at the pub was secretly taped, transcribed and distributed in order to expose your hypocrisy?"

    I wouldn't like it, but if it were relevant to my ability to carry out my job I could have no complaint. Mr Cable showed extreme bad judgement in saying what he did to people he didn't know from Adam. If he is unable to maintain a confidence I would suggest it is very relevant to his public position as Business Secretary.

  • Comment number 26.

    ...how would you feel if that chat about a relative, a workmate or a boss at the water cooler, in the canteen or at the pub was secretly taped, transcribed and distributed in order to expose your hypocrisy?
    ------------------------------------------------------

    All political hypocrisy should be reported.

    (If you think of politicians in a certain light you will see that it already is, in nearly every report on their everyday machinations.)

  • Comment number 27.

    And I agree with a chap above Nick.

    You guys constantly fall into the trap of thinking the media and political world, is the same as the real world, with voters.

    More voters than not will agree 100% with Cable, and will be frankly quite gutted that he didn't get a chance to bring Murdoch down.

    You know, he will suffer a bit of embarrassment for a year or so, but he'll probably end up being a figurehead of the centre left vote by 2015.

    Would you be at all surprised if he was Lib Dem leader next?

    I wouldn't. Why? People will now see him as a MP fighting against the system as Lib Dems want them to. And they'll see Clegg, Laws and Alexander as Conservative party patsies

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Future Lib Dem leader. Hardly- the man's been shown to be a vain, deluded fool. If they had been well known constituents of his, maybe, but 2 young women who he'd never met. I wouldn't trust his judgement at all, and I'd have a sliver more respect if he'd resigned. At least on the back benches he might have been able to speak more openly, now he is just a stupid neutered power hungry but lost old man. Carry on making a fool of yourself on Strictly Vince- about all you are capable of. (Judging from the glimpse on TV of the practice he isn't much good at dancing either!)

  • Comment number 30.

    The biggest conspiracy is actually who Cameron handed the Murdoch decision to.

    Jeremy Hunt. The most anti BBC, pro Murdoch MP in the entire house!

    The issue is, if he'd sacked Cable, he'd have had to have given another Lib Dem MP the office, and them the final say on Murdoch.

    By keeping Cable there, he can pass the decision on to an ally, to make sure his boss gets his takeover.

    Jeremy Hunt, is without doubt, more biased than Cable on this.

    By that I mean, he's made numerous public speeches of support for SKY on this takeover before and after the election

  • Comment number 31.

    Also, The Daily Telegraph has committed editorial suicide (bet the Times sales are up today) and their leaker did not go to ITN, but the BBC and Mr Peston for immediate full radio and TV coverage

    ========================================================================

    Robert Peston is the ex-political editor of The Telegraph.

    That's why it was leaked to him. He's a very trusted figure with the newspaper, and has numerous contacts within it.

    That's why I always giggle about this "BBC Labour Bias" theory

    BBC political editor = ex tory party member

    Deputy political editor 1 = ex Telegraph editor

    Deputy political editor 2 = David Cameron's old speech writer

    Deary me

  • Comment number 32.

    Since the Telegraph is one of the media groups currently opposing the Digger getting his wicked way with BSkyB, they must be feeling rather stupid right now, surely? Their sour little sting seems to have removed one of the biggest obstacles to Rupert's Master Plan.

    The left hand at the Telegraph knows not what the right doeth, it seems - except of course they never had much of a left hand at the Telegraph. But they were at one time gentlemen of the old school. Now they seem very comfortable in the gutter with the rest of the media rat-run.

  • Comment number 33.

    I wouldn't like it, but if it were relevant to my ability to carry out my job I could have no complaint. Mr Cable showed extreme bad judgement in saying what he did to people he didn't know from Adam. If he is unable to maintain a confidence I would suggest it is very relevant to his public position as Business Secretary.


    ========================================================================

    How about if your job actually relied on convincing people, that you actually believe in this sort of thing?

    If you were employed on your ability to convince voters you believed in certain things, you'd be singing like a canary!

  • Comment number 34.

    Should Vince Cable have commented like this? Why not? It seems to me that those who are complaining are letting the issue he was commenting on cloud their judgement….

    Vince Cable was (it seems) asked about his opinions, and gave them candidly. Fine. It’s about time we had less hyperbole and rhetoric from our politicians, and more good old fashioned straight talking.

    We can’t have our cake and eat it….if we want less spin, more honesty etc, we have to accept that our politicians are not flawless. They are elected from the people, by the people, for the people, and so reflect our own shortcomings rather well.

    The day a politician starts refusing to give an opinion (regardless of the issue) is a sad day. That day, for many politicians, has already past. They are too scared to posit their own views, and would rather hedge their bets.

    This whole issue shrinks in significance when compared to the other scandals of recent years. What did Uncle Vinnie do that was so wrong? Did he fiddle his expenses? Sleep with a constituent? Lie about Iraq? No, he boldly, and given the issue I suppose naively in this case, gave his personal opinion on something directly relating to his role.

    As part of his role, he is entitled to an opinion about what would become a monopoly of subscription-based broadcasting. If Vince Cable had commented that someone ought to tackle Tesco’s growth, would it have raised so many eyebrows? (Probably not, because despite their size they are not yet a monopoly…but hopefully you get my point)

  • Comment number 35.

    I am a little surprised that in all the discussion that surrounds Murdoch's plans to take as large a slice of the British media that he is able, that nobody considers the ethical dimension. Politicans are already in thrall to News International, because it can decided British elections. The behaviour of such publications as the News of the World is regularly deplorable. And Fox News in the US, with its rabid, right-wing rabble-rousing offers a terrifying example of what might happen with Sky news in the UK. If ministers, as they do, invoke high-minded codes of morality when eembarking on such policies as waging illegal wars, then the refusal to consider whether News Internation is a force for good, or for evil strikes this layperson as, at the very least, lazy.

  • Comment number 36.

    I for one am grateful for Vince Cable's (and others') comments (and that they were reported). It shows that many Lib Dem ministers and MPs still believe in what they said and promised before the election. This is laudable.

  • Comment number 37.

    When you see many comments like those above you realise that ethical concerns rarely surface. It's much more about where you stand in the political spectrum. In other words, unethical journalistic behaviour is OK if "the other side" are damaged by it, but it suddenly becomes unethical when your side is. The question is - how far do the ends justify the means? And if you are going to have to lie/misrepresent yourself to get information, what is the balance between that and the overriding public interest?

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    The LibDems have spent decades waiting for a coalition government (they had a LibLab pact before).

    Wht strikes me is that they seem quite unsuited to coalition.

    Cable as an individual is clearly puffed-up with his own self importance, but as a party of government the LibDems seem petulant, insincere and opportunistic. Of course coalition involves compromise, what did they expect to happen?

    Ever since first registering with this blog I have said that the LibDems are not a serious party of government, and nothing that I have seen since May convinces me otherwise.

    It would be quite unjust if the LibDems are rewarded by a 'Yes' vote in the AV referendum. In a fair world they should have no MPs at the next election, and be replaced as a party of protest by UKIP and the Greens (depending on the protestors overall political point of view).

  • Comment number 40.

    "how would you feel if that chat about a relative, a workmate or a boss at the water cooler, in the canteen or at the pub was secretly taped, transcribed and distributed in order to expose your hypocrisy?"

    I wouldn't feel good, but then thousands of people haven't voted for me to do what I said I'd do - not pretend to be one thing in public and behave differently in private.

  • Comment number 41.

    What all decent, right minded people are upset about is that Vince Cable ( read all Liberal Democrats ) think it is ok to play a braggard when dealing with members of the public, but when it comes to standing up for what they believe in, in the spotlight of the media, they are cowards. As they are when it comes to standing firm on promises they made to the electorate. When people like Clegg and Cable are happy to brazenly lie to people at elections, they forfeit absolutely the right to confidentiality of any kind.

  • Comment number 42.

    This Coalition is going to break by June 2011 at latest. Why the LibDems betrayed their grassroots supporters is entirely reflected in Vince Cable's comments. This is the most right wing Tory party since the dreaded Thatcher era that tore British society apart. There will be a LibDem electoral massacre in May. There are just so many public sector workers who are natural Labour or Lib Dem supporters and if there is one thing that's very true - turkey's never expected to have voted for Christmas. Yet again Vince shows why he should lead the LibDems. Nick Clegg is a 'wannabe' Tony Blair who has no LibDem principles and as a millionaire is part of the problem as opposed to the solution.

  • Comment number 43.

    31) Yes Peston worked for the Telegraph but hes also the son of a Labour Peer.

  • Comment number 44.

    You show your own bad judgement by sympathising with the coalition with what happened "behind closed doors". They are now touring studios using you as a cover for Vince cable.

    When the BBC left a mic on to record and embarass Gordon Brown during the election campaign you didn't complain - he got caught out so tough.

    The bottom line if you get caught out as a politician it's your fault - and the BBC's political editor should not be defending them

  • Comment number 45.

    The real story here is not the actions of the rather slimy Telegraph, and it is certainly not the opinions of Vince Cable - he just said that Murdoch was not going to get an automatic free ride, effectively, and I think you will find Cable has the backing of a huge number of ordinary voters over this.

    The real story is how the rest of Westminster has reacted. Both Cameron and Milliband sound like they are desperate not to upset Murdoch or any other newspaper owners, where what they should be saying is "Murdoch gets no special treatment here, and politicians are free to speak their minds."

    The very fact that none of them have the guts speaks volumes.

  • Comment number 46.

    @DeimosL "Whatever Dr Vince's personal opinions, we were paying him to act and behave as an independent accessor. He took our money and failed to fulfil that role."

    Haha, well you're going to be very disappointed with Jeremy Hunt then... might as well have simply given the role to Murdoch himself.

  • Comment number 47.

    "how would you feel if that chat about a relative, a workmate or a boss at the water cooler, in the canteen or at the pub was secretly taped, transcribed and distributed in order to expose your hypocrisy?"

    I'm not convinced by that Nick.

    How could Vince Cable describe himself as 'at war' with Murdoch and then claim to be an impartial judge of Murdoch's business dealings, as he was supposed to be.

    If I openly said I like auntie Ethel's hat and was taped saying I thought it was awful, that would be embarresing but inconsequential. If I openly said I was impartially deciding if aunt Ethel or someone else got a job and secretly hated her guts, I'd be the wrong person to be making that impartial decision. If I had any decency, I'd leave to decision to someone else.

    If you can't see the difference, Nick, I'd suggest you've been too long at Westminster.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    If Vince had anything about him he would resign. Anything else is continuing to facilitate this tory led government. Quite frankly what we are witnessing is some of the most revolting ideology that formulates and implements policies that devastate public services and affect the poorest in society. Not to mention residing over the idiotics of increasing unemployment, slashing public spending and damaging inflation as a supposed cure for the economy. How rediculous.
    Of course for the conservative millionaire cabinet and their wealthy donors, lifes great.
    Deals with hmrc allowing vodafone to escape paying billions in tax.
    Tax havens/tax avoidance measures allowing companies like arcadia and boots to avoid paying millions and millions of pounds of tax. (Philip greens tax swerve alone could pay for fees for almost 32 thousand students/pay the salaries of 20 thousand NHS nurses).
    And of course there’s even more billions going towards bankers bonuses to complete the absolute mugging of the low paid working class.
    So in summary if the rich individuals and business paid their fair percentage share of tax and banking bonuses were cut or reduced dramatically it would allow billions to be used for investment in the economy and put a stop to the catastrophic cuts in public services. But this conservative led government will plough on, on their revolting course, backed up by the majority right wing press, Murdoch and its ilk.
    While millions of others face misery.

    Revolting and immoral.

  • Comment number 50.

    I heard again today the refrain' Coalition Government is about compromise'. It goes, almost without saying, that the first thing that gets compromised is integrity. Vince Cable broke a political creed when he, apparantly, 'said what he thought'.

  • Comment number 51.

    I do hope that Vince Cable wasn't trying to exploit the old adage [true or otherwise] of "power is the ultimate aphrodisiac"....

  • Comment number 52.

    I totally share your bemusement with all this (and the WikiLeaks) "scandal".

    Frank discussion, be it in the workplace, politics or amongst family and relatives is a requirement in order to get anything done. All these continuous attempts to expose the "real feelings" of politicians serves no purpose but to undermine the willingness of those invovled to talk candidly about the (very important) issues they are involved in.

    What annoys me the most about the Cable story, is that he is 100% correct on the Rupert Murdoch front! He's right to fear him and the power he seeks with the BSkyB takeover - we all should!

    Yet again, the need for political correctness and the "correct language" has got in the way of the real debate... Something politics seems more concerned with these days rather than actually getting the job done.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    What's bugging Nick is he didn't get the storey.

  • Comment number 55.

    I agree that the comments were made to wrong people but I am sure most of the public will agree with Cable's sentiment on the BskyB takeover. Murdoch and his son could not get BBC privetised or move from the public ownership so now the private media monapoly is what he is after.

    Shold there be A PUBLIC CAMPAIN STARTED TO LET MURDOCH AND CO TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT THE PUBLIC THINK OF THEM?

    Start with a campain to get public attention to number of papers and channels are owned by Murdoch and let public see how much of the news and info they get is channelled by this Media tzar. Any one interested?

  • Comment number 56.

    37 lacplesis37

    The question is - how far do the ends justify the means? And if you are going to have to lie/misrepresent yourself to get information, what is the balance between that and the overriding public interest?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I agree.

    There was no evidence of public interest or wrongdoing here and there still isn't, the Murdoch story aside.

  • Comment number 57.


    The politicans and the hacks dont get it still I see. We the public, you know the great unwashed who in name only control your destinies via the ballot box.

    We detest and loathe you as creatures of your type not because you occasionally get caught out like this. We detest you because you feel a god given right, need or complusion to say one thing in public whilst spouting mealy mouthed platitudes in private.

    Say what you think and think what you say, thats what my grandpa always said and he was right. A lesson I think for politicans and journalists.

    I heard some BBC hack the other night sounding off. All of us in the know of course "knew" that the Libdems were happy, new that they were raising concerns so the investigation by the Telegraph was unnecesscary. If you all knew why werent you reporting it ? It is sad state of affairs we have arrived at where the journalists are in kahoots with the politicans to maintain a cosy consensus.

  • Comment number 58.

    Cable is a blithering idiot.....for months we have been told what a sharp political mind he has....we have watched question time and listened to how he has a brilliant financial grasp of all things important..... and yet this..... christ....how dim witted does one need to be, to be at the inner circle of running this country. So instead of good ole sharp brain cable winning his war, Murdoch will now have his way...Nick take my advice, stop listening to those muppets at parliment to bolster your news reports, instead start listening to us...the people who have to put up with the crappy end of mess our politicians make of running this country....I'm just glad they are not in charge of the weather...then we really would be in a mess.... happy christmas to all.

    RDC

  • Comment number 59.

    The Scorpion and the Frog (aka The Tories and The Lib Dems)

    A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
    scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
    frog asks, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion
    says, "Because if I do, I will die too."

    The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
    the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
    paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
    but has just enough time to gasp "Why?"

    Replies the scorpion: "It's in my nature..."

    Some of you will know this fable, of course, but to have a government with the characteristics of these creatures can only ever lead to trouble for the electorate [plebs]. Some may argue the creatures should be reversed, but Scorpions appear more instinctive and Frogs a bit of a dithering creature (and are the Tories not known as The Nasty Party? Theresa May, I believe I'm quoting!).

    And of course, Murdoch's world domination is a step closer....who says Austin Powers et al was a Mike Myers 'make-believe'?

  • Comment number 60.

    '...so perhaps the easiest way to think about this is to ask yourself this: how would you feel if that chat about a relative, a workmate or a boss at the water cooler, in the canteen or at the pub was secretly taped, transcribed and distributed in order to expose your hypocrisy?'

    Interesting blog as always, but this closing remark is disingenuous: If I, or any member of the public, were fool enough to discuss such an important subject that was part of my professional life and which impinged on 'semi-judicial powers' which everyone in the media keeps citing, then I'd expect to be receiving my P45 without delay. I admire VC, sympathise with Lid Dem policies, voted for them and have a local (Lib Dem) MP who is a really pro-active liberal politician. But that not the point. VC was unprofessional to chat away the way he did with a consitutent (who we now know was bugging him). If you are a secretary of state you don't do that sort of thing. I sympathise, but he screwed up.

  • Comment number 61.

    49. At 4:10pm on 22 Dec 2010, lefty11 wrote:
    Revolting and immoral.
    --------------------------------------

    Exactly how most of the people would sum up all of the politicians.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.


    Starting from today, politicians will be more wary about what they say to their own constituents, more suspicious of journalists and more keen to meet behind closed doors without the risk of microphones, cameras, prying eyes and straining ears.

    ===========================================================================

    What on earth are you talking about Nick?

    Are you saying that it is ever acceptable for a serving minister to discuss the inner workings of government, or his own personal reasons for implementing policy, to complete strangers? Are you really saying this? We are not talking about political colleagues or political commentators, we are talking about complete strangers.

    Cable's hubris led him into saying what he did and he shows a serious lack of political and personal judgement. He should go, but of course it serves the Tory administration to keep him on. From Guru to Lulu.



  • Comment number 64.

    I agree with you Nick, bugging politicians cannot be justified when there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of the politician. This is gutter journalism at its worst.

    All that's going to come from this is that politicians will be reluctant to talk to their constituents without a thorough screening to prove that they are who they say they are. This cannot be good for our democracy.

    It appears that the Telegraph is on a crusade to bring down the Government and will sink to any depths to do so. I just hope they are stopped before they can do any more damage.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    The coalition agreement left Tory rightwingers furious. This is their way of getting back. Damage to the coalition is absolutely what they want. Not quite what the Telegraph wanted when they sanctioned this unsavoury sting, though. They actually shot themselves in the foot. The BSkyB battle is now lost and won.
    Nothing Vince said is surprising. Remember he's a Lib Dem. This is a coalition, not a party merger. No hypocrisy here; Vince is used to saying what he thinks. No wrongdoing either. He is left looking very silly but then so is the Telegraph.

  • Comment number 67.

    Everyone is tired of reading about the snow and ice so it's time for another 'story'. Mr Cable was perhaps unwise to voice his opinions so freely; but lets not kid ourselves that anyone, be they judges, politicians, police officers etc don't have opinions. What I expect is that when a case or argument is made to them that they will listen to the pros and cons and decide on the evidence and the strength or weakness of the argument. And further, that the thinking and reasoning process used to reach a decision is made freely available to us all. We might not agree with it, but the process should strive to be transparent. I had hoped that the tedious 'oh he's said something contentious so he should resign' kind of politics (and journalism) had disappeared with Labour's exit; clearly I was mistaken. It is however wise to remember that nothing puts viewers, listeners and voters off than this kind of juvenile tedium.

  • Comment number 68.

    49 - "Of course for the conservative millionaire cabinet and their wealthy donors, lifes great.
    Deals with hmrc allowing vodafone to escape paying billions in tax.
    Tax havens/tax avoidance measures allowing companies like arcadia and boots to avoid paying millions and millions of pounds of tax. (Philip greens tax swerve alone could pay for fees for almost 32 thousand students/pay the salaries of 20 thousand NHS nurses)."

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn.

    More "Evil Tories" stuff from you. It's all the Tories isn't it, all their polcies, all down to them.

    Philip Green's tax swerve? Ah that would be the payment by Arcadia of a £1.3 billion dividend on which little or no tax was paid as the shares were beneficially held by Mrs Green who lives in Monaco.

    Perhaps, Lefty, with your perception of the evil Tories you could explain their role in this. That dividend was paid in October 2005. You'll have to remind me. Who was in power then? Who was chancellor? Who was Prime Minister? Were you droning on about evil policies and 20 thousand nurses then?

    Same goes for all the tripe you write about tax havens and tax avoidance. Where were all your protests from 1997 to May 2010?

  • Comment number 69.

    55 - "Shold there be A PUBLIC CAMPAIN STARTED TO LET MURDOCH AND CO TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT THE PUBLIC THINK OF THEM?"

    Hmmm....like not subscribing to Sky and not buying his papers?

    Maybe most people aren't that vexed.

  • Comment number 70.

    It's nice to see Vince Cable exposed as a hypocrite in this way. Intitially I felt the man had alot of sense and spoke in line with public opinion.
    However, he has overstepped the mark on a number of occasions regarding banks recently and is clearly one who likes throwing his political weight around. These events have only served to reinforce the fact that, now he is in power with the coalition government, this power has gone to his head.
    If he does finally get forced out then it will be with a resounding 'good riddance' from me.

  • Comment number 71.

    There is no "right" side here.

    The Telegraph was wrong to send undercover reporters to pose as constituents but Cable was stupid to comment as he did to people he had never met before.
    Presumably the reporters had false ID or did no one check their claim to be constituents?

    All that has been achieved is that Murdoch has been handed the takeover on a plate, well done to both Cable & Daily Telegraph, and Vince Cable has lost credibility and his ability to influence matters such as bankers' bonuses.

    Of course Cameron kept him, there's still need for human shields and this is one who will not rock the boat now.

    What a clown.

  • Comment number 72.

    Is it a wee bit strange that Nick,Peston,Flanders and Marr or display their allegiance to the left.
    Was Auberon Waugh right in his views about Journalists,Economics editors etc?

  • Comment number 73.

    So Vince is now doing a smaller job. Does he therefore get a smaller salary. He keeps moaning about others having underserved pay packages. Now is the time for him to take a pay cut to show that when you lose a chunk of your job.

  • Comment number 74.

    "Starting from today, politicians will be more wary about what they say to their own constituents, more suspicious of journalists and more keen to meet behind closed doors without the risk of microphones, cameras, prying eyes and straining ears. Candour will be less common, not more."

    Now it would be a shame if that were the lesson drawn from this little escapade. The real lesson is that Cabinet Ministers and people holding public office should not allow themselves to use their positions to conduct personal and political vendettas, but should at all times be only mindful of the public interest.

    But I guess that WOULD be too much to hope for.

  • Comment number 75.

    I think youre wrong Nick - the newspaper had every right to break this story and obtain the information that they did in the way that they did. Undercover reporting is now an accepted part of journalism and all those in the public eye are fully aware of it and the implications of it. However, in this case it is a matter of serious interest to the public - we the voting public have a right to know if there is serious unrest within the Government especially in the current coalition climate. For the record I think Cable who has gone from being a popular man to a very unpopular one (like most of the Liberal Democrat Party)will not have strengthen his position as is being reported - he has signalled the beginning of the end for the coalition so if I were you I would be planning my strategy of how to cover the forthcoming election!

  • Comment number 76.

    There are 2 seperate issues here:

    1. Should the Telegraph have used undercover reporters in order to record LibDem ministers saying that they disagreed with Coalition Policy? In my view no, the very nature of a Coalition Government is that both sides will have misgivings over the compromise policies but will support the agreed decisions.

    2. Despite the methods used to record Vince Cable's comments the fact that he said that he had the option of bringing the Government down and had declared war against Rupert Murdoch was completely inappropriate and showed bad judgement.

    The correct approach would be to say that he had severe misgivings over Murdoch extending his media empire and would need so see hard evidence of any benefit before agreeing to the takeover. If Cable is going to be seriously considered as a statesman rather than just a politician 'with principles' he needs to learn that he has responsibilities that need to be taken seriously.

    All that said, I do wonder how many of those spitting bile at the Telegraph for their methods are similarly angry at Wikileaks for revealing classified information. I suspect not many.

    In my view the actions of both organisations will result in the people in power making more attempts to conceal their thoughts and actions.

  • Comment number 77.

    "61. At 4:29pm on 22 Dec 2010, Kit Green wrote:
    49. At 4:10pm on 22 Dec 2010, lefty11 wrote:
    Revolting and immoral.
    --------------------------------------

    Exactly how most of the people would sum up all of the politicians."

    And many might agree with you, but Lefty only finds Tories revolting and immoral. Labour were in charge for 13 years and did nothing to stop tax avoidance, nothing to close tax havens, but all of a sudden Lefty is banging his drum about how it's a terrible scandal. Apparently, only since May of this year have tax havens and tax avoidance been such awful things.

    Meantime in the real world, the coalition will be making the biggest single increase EVER in the personal tax free amount low earners can earn before tax is paid and will be restricting this to basic rate taxpayers only. Also in the real world, the coalition are ending the use of Employee Benefit Trusts, a means by which business owners were avoiding tax throughout Blair & Brown's period on charge. Under Labour, a wealthy businessman could put £225,000 a year, tax free, into a pension pot, under the coalition, this amount has been slashed to £50,000.

    But in Lefty's world it's all and only evil tories, whatever they do.

    To view all politicians as immoral is a viewpoint, to hypocritically criticise one side but not the other for doing the same thing shows not so much blinkers as a blindfold.

  • Comment number 78.

    Its all very odd ,but let's face it the Liberals are just a protest party. Incapable of making the tough decisions and the inevitable backlash from sections of the public.

    I suggest Cable wants out of the "government" role and wants his own life back.

    Its all staged...

  • Comment number 79.

    Given that thousands of us have lobbied our MPs re the Murdoch stranglehold on media that the takeover would mean, Cable was doing what he was asked to do by colleagues-- block the anti democracy control of media. Why pick over something he said in private.? His track record as a thoughtful stable MP should not be overlooked. Surely the coalition is bound to include jockeying for position, my despair is at the pathetic need for playground tactics, "the legacy of the last govt" is over used and so often wrong.More important is the lack of strategy as changes are rushed through with absolutely no exit or compensatory planning.

  • Comment number 80.

    A Business secretary who cannot make business decisions?? (and who would trust his next 'impartial' judgement anyway): an indiscreet politician?? what is the point of 'Vince', they should untether his cable from cabinet and let him float away.
    As for the Lib Dem idiot who thinks his party have minds of their own, you're missing the point old son - in this case indiscretion is not the better part of valour.

  • Comment number 81.

    Right OK! What is revealed is an element of political life that is ignored or hidden from general view, and that is that all those involved in political life have very high sexual drives. They are a bit like rock stars without the coolness.

    If you listen to the recording you can here the UNKNOWN undercover reporter giggling and no dought fluttering her eyelids and Vince crowing like a cock in a hen house. You may think that politicians should be above this kind of behaviour, but believe you me this is just par for the course.

  • Comment number 82.

    At last - an admission from all sides that the policies of the Tories and LD are often diametrically opposed. This conservative lead government is being given legitmacy by the perfidious support of the LDs - I suggest a general election, to be held as soon as possible and a moratorium on the conservative's deranged plans for the underhand privatisation of the NHS - until the conservatives have a majority government and a clear mandate to proceed,
    The current situation would seem to be the worst of all worlds - the LDs as king makers -their ineptitude for this role has been volubly demonstrated by the motorway pile-up disaster over tuition fees - a kid taking a GCSE in PR would have mad a better job off handling it!

    WE DID NOT ELECT YOU DAVE -IF YOU THINK THE COUNTRY WILL VOTE FOR YOUR POLICIES NOW REVEALED -BUT HIDDEN IN YOUR ELECTION MANIFESTO-CALL A GENERAL ELECTION.

  • Comment number 83.

    One of the realities of this is that the Telegraph has now lowered itself from a newspaper of high moral ground (so beloved by its Conservative readership) to the level of its News Corporation rivals.

    How long before we get articles obtained by the Telegraph hacking in to MP's phones "in the public interest"? The News Of the World started this, is the whole of the national press now going to follow?

    How about (big laugh,) the ethics of it all?

    Will the Press Complaints Commission (even bigger laugh) do anything about it?

    The only answer for MP's will be to use scrambler phones and create a dirty great magnetic field around them when talking to anyone to wipe clean any clandestine recordings. However even that might not work with flash USB's

    As the Chinese (are reputed to have) said we live in interesting times!!!

  • Comment number 84.

    I really do not think anyone here understands why the comments of St Vince were so wrong.

    This has nothing to do with undercover reporting, nor whether you approve of Murdoch or not.

    It is purely a question of correct legal process which Vince has now put into question.

    Vince in secretary of state for business and under his direct remit is Ofcom. Ofcom is currently considering the takeover, based on previous comments and decisions, it is highly likely that they will report that Murdoch buying the 61% of BSkyB which he does not already own will not have competition and plurality concerns because they have already held that having 25% of a media company means that you have sufficiently significant influence over editorial content (ITV decision) to cause a regulatory issues.

    Ofcom is not due to report until the end of the month.

    Vince's comments clearly demonstrated he had already made up his own mind without waiting for the report.

    As a matter of administrative law he is not permitted to do that. To leave Vince with the power to block the Murdoch takeover would have led to an inevitable law suit which Murdoch was bound to win.

  • Comment number 85.

    i agree nick that events of the past few days will make politicians less likely to reveal what they really think.so far david cameron has managed to avoid the traps but come the new year,it will be a very different story

  • Comment number 86.

    Why did Nick Clegg cross the road???

    The Cons have conned the LibDems, who in turn have conned the people!!!

    Power to the people!!!

  • Comment number 87.

    This story just shows how out of touch journalists are with the public. No body wants Murdoch to have any more power or control. Vince cable should be being applauded. Journos and polititians are all the same in my book too cosy. No wonder sales of newspapers are dwindling....

  • Comment number 88.

    Here's what's bugging me:
    There is such a disparity between
    - what politicians say publically and
    - what they say provately that:
    as you state: "Starting from today, politicians will be MORE WARY about what they say to their own constituents, more suspicious of journalists and more keen to meet behind closed doors without the risk of microphones, cameras, prying eyes and straining ears."
    This disparity is what made Wikileaks such a 'HIT".
    This disparity should not exist. Candour has never been common among politicians; the fact is that most people expect politcians to lie.
    Common folk will gossip, and sometimes, this gossip comes back to haunt them, but politcians should be far more open and candid because how else are we electing them except by
    - WHAT THEY SAY and
    - what they do.
    The public has a right to know the real position of politcians on various issues.
    As you state: "Undercover reporting is legitimate, necessary indeed, to uncover wrongdoing...I know that the paper's executives considered the press complaints code and the law before deciding to proceed, but where was the evidence of wrongdoing amongst Liberal Democrat ministers which justified bugging them?"
    Well, that's the real question, isn't it?



  • Comment number 89.

    Cable is so right about Murdoch, We all know where Murdoch is coming from ["an eye for an eye" clan, as is Milaband. Not,- Love thy nighbour- group] .
    My feeling is that it is in Cables interest to sidestep any responsibility for the wrong decision [to keep his voters happy, ] which as we know would be forced upon him if he wants to keep his job in the coalition so not to upset the eye for an eye clan.
    We are being made mugs of once again.

  • Comment number 90.

    Having lived in several European countries which normally have a coalition government I am aware that the politians and press in this country have a lot to learn about such arrangements. A coalition agreement covers what the parties have agreed to do, it does not cover what they would like to do. By definition there will be things they have to do in government which they do not like. So Vince Cable does not like all the policies of the coalition government - well of course not!

  • Comment number 91.

    There is not a lot of real news about, in fact there is a relative dearth of news. If it was not for the unseasonbly cold and snow, there would be none at all. So what do reporters in this country do?, they of course attempt to make the news. per se The Vince Cable story. I am a Tory and I do believe that Vince is an honest and honourable man, it would seem to me that the coalition on the whole is doing an excellent job, and the press do not like this, as there is little for them to write about. So scurrilous little stories are made into big stories. Other than the press and Labour politicions, these stories are of little interest to most of the British population. Save your tittle tattle for smoke filled rooms.

  • Comment number 92.

    "The PM would have been secretly delighted with a damaged, disempowered business secretary" p.27 Guardian 22.12.10.
    Delighted enough with the possibility to encourage the Telegraph to make it happen, perhaps?
    Surely not!

  • Comment number 93.

    69. AndyC555 wrote:

    55 - "Shold there be A PUBLIC CAMPAIN STARTED TO LET MURDOCH AND CO TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT THE PUBLIC THINK OF THEM?"

    Hmmm....like not subscribing to Sky and not buying his papers?

    Maybe most people aren't that vexed.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    An excellent response to the original point.

    An awful lot of posters on here seem certain that they are on the side of popular opinion. Perhaps, but why the certainty?

    If people hate Murdoch so much, why do so many people buy his newspapers and subscribe to Sky? If people hate tax avoidance so much, why do so many people use ISAs, employ advisers or make lifetime gifts instead of leaving all one's money in a will? If people hate the Tories so much, why did they get the highest share of the vote in the last election and why are they often the most popular party in England?

    I would suggest that a vocal minority believes itself to be more sizeable and influential that it, in fact, is.

  • Comment number 94.

    Oh Gosh! Horror! - politicians having "secret" agendas and plans which are not normally revealed to the electorate except as a fait accompli !
    We have - sadly - come to accept that none of our glorious leaders are whiter than white - history tells us that this is so unlikely as to be a pipe dream - however I never cease to be surprised at the naivety of any politician, let alone someone as senior as Vince Cable, in talking to anyone outside of Government, let alone people he apparently didn't know from Adam, about plans which could perhaps be charitably described as "dubious"
    Was he trying to impress the listeners with his power ? - there seems to be little other justification for offering these tit-bits to a stranger.
    When politicians can manage to last a full term of Government without either leaving some secret files on a bus or "leaking" juicy stories to help their plans along then I may believe that they have matured into wise and discreet memberof Government - in the meantime - please Vince ( and all your colleagues ) - grow up and learn what discretion means !

  • Comment number 95.

    Not quite Woodward & Bernstein, was it? The Torygraph, I mean. Bit tacky even. And all for some deeply unshocking "revelations". Let's see ... Many Lib Dems aren't ecstatic about a lot of Clown policies ... Balding man in late middle age gets a little boastful when talking to a couple of twenty-something girls ... Hold The Front Page! And lo and behold they did.

    No, can't remember being as not shocked by a domestic political story for quite some time. Certainly since MPs expenses.

  • Comment number 96.

    He who is innocent cast the first stone. Not literally I add.

    To people you can trust full candour should be the norm. We can all air issues, and have a proper dialogue. Then in public, it is normal courtesy to speak more carefully.

    It was a matter of respect and trust that Vince Cable spoke candidly to constituents. That respect and trust was betrayed.

  • Comment number 97.

    Since his twisting and turning over the voting for tuition fees I have seen Vince Cable as an unreliable politician; a 'loose cannon'who should not be a Minister.
    There should be absolutely No space between public statements and private conversations- for any of us-I know that is an ideal hard to achieve but we should aim for that integrity and I do expect personal integrity from members of the Government--an idle wish as it turns out(viz Gordon Brown's faux pas over Mrs. Duffy)- but from the Lib Dems very disappointing indeed.

  • Comment number 98.

    82. owoodski

    'WE DID NOT ELECT YOU DAVE -IF YOU THINK THE COUNTRY WILL VOTE FOR YOUR POLICIES NOW REVEALED -BUT HIDDEN IN YOUR ELECTION MANIFESTO-CALL A GENERAL ELECTION.'

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I take it from your post that you didn't vote Conservative.

    But a lot of people did. More people voted for that party than any other. There are many reasons for that, all of which became apparent over the course of thirteen years.

    I found it undignified to watch toys being thrown out of prams on such a grand scale after the election. Yes, no party won a majority. But one party did at least outperform all others.

    For all the talk about illegitimacy/lack of mandate, one thing seems crystal clear to me: a coalition containing the party with the most votes is more legitimate than a coalition without it.

  • Comment number 99.

    The easiest way to destroy a political system is 3 fold; for the media (any of them) to create stories like this; for those involved to be stupid (or unfortunate)enough to fall for it; and senior ministers to be sacked as a result.

    The easiest way to stop this is 2 fold; stop sacking ministers when a mistake is made; ministers to button it.

    And as for the media - you can bring out all the stuff about "in the public interest" "lies and half truths", what a load of old tosh. So tell us all o truthfull ones, what is your gutter agenda for tomorrow?

  • Comment number 100.

    I admire Vince Cable. He obviously believes in the cause, calling to account those with power, wealth and influence. Without him, this government is a loveless Tory nightmare. I had high hopes for Nick Clegg, but I think he's been bought even if there is no evidence of the 30 pieces of silver. Still, I would rather Mr Cable stayed his course reminding us that Lib Dems are not Tories than for him to resign, as this would drain my faith in politics.

 

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