Tuesday 25 September 2012
The Sketch: Vince shows that he's the master of having it both ways
We searched, largely in vain, for a twitch of mutually hostile body language between Clegg and Cable
Vince Cable has had the luck as a politician to see some of his enemies spontaneously combust. Bob Diamond. Rupert Murdoch. Er… Nick Clegg?
Perish the thought, of course. As the two men – so inseparable you wondered whether either was prepared to let the other out of his sight – toured the Ricardo hi-tech engineering plant in Shoreham yesterday, Clegg seemed the chattier, Cable the more subdued, preoccupied perhaps by his imminent Big Speech.
We searched, largely in vain, for a twitch of mutually hostile body language. Asked, twice, about Boris Johnson's mischief-making call in yesterday's Daily Telegraph for the Lib Dem leader to be preserved for the nation, Clegg preceded his game dismissal of the London Mayor's intervention by describing him as the "nation's greatest celebrity politician". Could this have been an ultra-subtle dig at Vince – Boris's main rival for this dubious title?
Who can tell? Certainly Cable yesterday eschewed overt Borisian self-aggrandisement at the expense of his leader. Instead, his speech showed distinct signs of Vince having it both ways. In the Government but not wholly of it. In particular, he indulged in a bout of only somewhat circumspect – and from the floor, well applauded – Tory-bashing.
His best and unscripted joke, "Not now, Ed", came as he seemed to reach for his mobile phone after an unrepentant reference to his SMS flirtation with the Labour leader. He regarded it as a "badge of honour" to have been the minister most Tory activists wanted removed. And to have seen off the "head-bangers who want a hire-and-fire culture and seem to find sacking people an aphrodisiac".
But it was in his forecast of a likely hung parliament after the next election that it was possible for conspiracy theorists to see a nascent problem for Clegg. Cable pointed to Labour's "reasonable" poll ratings while summarising everything that went wrong with Labour's 13 years in office.
Cable added that Labour had "scarcely begun the long march" back from its demise. You had a sense that it was a long march he wouldn't mind putting his boots on for when the moment came. And the unspoken corollary might have just been that Labour would find him a more congenial partner than Clegg. After all, had Boris, shamelessly stirring the pot as only Boris can, not written that morning that Clegg was "probably a natural Tory"?
Syria air strikes: US launches attack on Isis as jihadist group warns of retribution
NHS will get £2.5bn boost funded by mansion tax and and levy on tobacco firms, pledges Ed Miliband
Emma Watson 'nude photos will be leaked within days' claim 4Chan hackers
4Chan threats to leak naked celebrity pictures just proves Emma Watson right
White tiger kills student at Delhi zoo after 'he jumps into animal's enclosure'
Andy Murray says 11th hour Scottish Independence tweet backing 'Yes' campaign isn't something he 'would do again'
£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...
£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...