Andy McSmith's Diary: What would Vince Cable, circa 2006, say about Royal Mail?

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Guess who said: “I am seriously worried that the Government miscalculated the value of its assets and sold the taxpayer short.”

It was not Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, in front of a Commons committee defending the privatisation of Royal Mail, whose share price leapt by 38 per cent on the first day of the sale.

No, it was Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, in 2006, criticising the Labour Government’s sale of the defence research company QinetiQ, whose new owners made an 800 per cent profit in three years.

One voice, two faces

And on a similar tack, compare and contrast this quote: “Recent months have seen unprecedented numbers of asylum-seekers, many of whose claims have been unfounded, arriving in the United Kingdom, putting immense pressures on resources.”

With this: “Ukip’s campaign needs to be exposed for what it is, a racist campaign… They are deploying the same language and tactics used by openly racist parties but instead of targeting migrants from Africa and Asia, they are targeting migrants from within the EU.”

The first was the then Immigration Minister, Barbara Roche, in 1999, explaining Labour’s decision to open a new privately-run detention camp for asylum-seekers. The second was Barbara Roche, who now heads pressure group Migration Matters, launching a campaign to defeat Ukip by exposing its members as racists.

Ukip vs Ukip

Those who think that Ukip is racist through and through will point to William Henwood, the former council election candidate who resigned today from the party, who tweeted that Lenny Henry should “go and live in a black country”.

In the Black Country, where Henry was born, there is a Ukip Euro-election candidate called Bill Etheridge, whose membership of the Tory Party was suspended three years ago after he posed with a golliwog, a doll now considered offensive.

He told Wolverhampton’s Express and Star: “I am enraged by the vile and repulsive comments made about Dudley’s own Lenny Henry. I believe this individual who made these comments should be publicly paraded through the streets of the very town he has offended.”

Whatever Ukip is, it’s not monolithic.

The only way is absence

Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom appeared to suffer a website malfunction after Daily Telegraph journalists trawled through the site for her remarks attacking HS2. Ms Leadsom would have risked the sack if she had voted against the High Speed Rail Bill, and would have been accused of going back on her words if she had voted for it. Conveniently, it turned out that she had to be in Brussels, so could do neither.

Her website is now operative, and anyone can read her comments, such as: “I do not believe the business case for HS2 stacks up, it is not value for taxpayers’ money… The only reason that the pro-HS2 campaign accuses us of being nimbys is simply because they do not have a valid argument.”

That’s enough clichés

There are too many fat people in Gloucestershire. The Gloucester Citizen reports that the county is at “tipping point” because of a “ticking obesity time bomb” and quotes a warning from Dawn Harper, the Gloucestershire GP and presenter of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, that “if we don’t all wake up and smell the coffee to do something about what is an epidemic in this country, then our NHS will just crumble”.

Gloucestershire has been gorging on junk clichés.