Never mind if One Direction are worth £5m, Vince Cable deserves a pay rise for this masterful play

When he feigns ignorance of Harry Styles, Cable isn't ruefully noting his own high-court-judgeishness; he's trying to corner the market in Uncle Fuddly

Share

When Vince Cable took his life in his hands and suggested that £5m a year for singing and dancing and being good-looking might be quite hard to justify, morally speaking, the interesting thing wasn’t his initial observation, which seems to be utterly indisputable. The interesting thing was the retraction.

“I don’t want to attack One Direction,” Mr Cable said, in the process of explaining that he had misheard his inquisitor and thought he was being asked about chief executives. (You can feel his words vibrate with anxiety at the prospect of a million rabid Directioners, all of them desperate to give Harry Styles more of their money, marching on Westminster.) “This is one particular group who are apparently very popular and very successful. So I have nothing against them.”

The key word in his feeble retreat is that redundant “apparently”, and, as with most political words, it carries more weight than it seems to. My mum is my bellwether for these things, and my mum knows who One Direction are, and that they are very popular. Vince Cable is definitely as well-informed about pop culture as my mum: plus, he’s been on Strictly Come Dancing. I am simply not buying the idea that a teenage SpAd had to whisper the band’s identity in his ear. I’m not saying he’s a huge fan of “What Makes You Beautiful” but I’m pretty sure he’s familiar with their existence. So when he says “apparently”, he’s not ruefully noting his own high-court-judgishness; he’s making a political play. Vince Cable wants to corner the market in Uncle Fuddly.

It’s a notable development, this. As a rule, our politicians have in recent years been at desperate pains to present themselves as hipper than anyone who spent their university years in the NUS is ever likely to be; that trend hit an early nadir with Gordon Brown’s claims of affection for Leona Lewis, and hasn’t really gone away since. But now, possibly anxious at his association with a government led by the sort of juvenile spivs who might actually like that sort of thing, Mr Cable is striking out in the opposite direction.

Even if he weren’t at risk from the frenzies of the Directioners, you could see the political wisdom in it. One day, Vince wants to lead his party, and when set against the boyish Nick Clegg (Desert Island Disc: Shakira), his main virtue is his air of frumpish solidity; there’s no point in undermining that, at an immensely serious time, with even the faintest awareness of the charts. Still, it’s a shame. His initial point was an entirely fair one, and if we’re going to get in a tizzy about chief executives’ excessive pay awards, it seems entirely reasonable to cast the net of shame a little wider. I certainly wouldn’t want Mr Cable legislating on One Direction’s pay. But I wish he felt he could start a conversation about it without the political triangulation.

Twitter: @archiebland

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle  

The lessons we can learn from Ireland's gay marriage referendum

Stefano Hatfield
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine