It can’t have been a very merry Christmas in the Cable household this year. Despite proving himself surprisingly light of foot in his star turn on the Boxing Day edition of ‘Strictly come Dancing’ – an idea we can only attribute to too much eggnog- such smooth moves would have come in far handier when considering the appropriateness of a “declaration of war” on the Murdoch empire.
While it is hard to escape from the fact that Cable’s comments were badly chosen and inappropriate for a supposedly neutral cabinet Minister, recent statistics have shown that only 5 per cent of the country support the News Corp bid to buy out BskyB . Indeed, 84 per cent of British people are against any single company having majority control of our media.
So the question that springs mind is- what was gained by obtaining such comments? Cable, who clearly in this case was very much a vessel for popular opinion, has now been stripped of his media responsibilities and faced a public scolding from Cameron, like a naughty schoolboy who spoke out of turn. Such humiliation for one of the few remaining Liberal Democrats who has retained at least some liberal sensibilities when faced with the tangible prospect of power, surely works in no-ones favour but Murdoch’s. Indeed, the Telegraph journalists involved in the ‘sting’ were accused of attempting to cover up the quotes, before they were leaked to the BBC, for fear it would undermine their battle against the Murdoch take-over.
To quote Jane Eyre (and Lewis Bretts) we are “but human and fallible”, so should the future of British media be put in jeopardy all because of Cable’s hubris?
And my answer to that is actually, yes. As much as I dislike that the Culture Secretary, and Murdoch’s future drinking buddy, Jeremy Hunt now resides over the deal, the fault lies entirely at the feet of Cable, not those who reported on the incident. Matters of journalistic integrity aside, Ministers cannot be looking at any national issues with such preconceived bias. Just because the case concerns Murdoch- who incidentally stands as a corrosive black whole of homogenisation and uniformity for global media as well as not paying a dime of tax- does not mean we should turn a blind eye. To be frank, if the coalition wasn’t in such a current state of disarray, he really should have been sacked.
Should Willets, the Universities Minister, have been caught six months ago, making similar comments on how he was going to ‘declare war’ on university funding, and raise our fees through the roof, before the Browne report had even been published, there would have been national outcry. It is hard to admit, but the same rules have to apply universally. We cannot pick and choose neutrality within government.
The truth can be uncomfortable, and does not necessarily serve an immediate purpose. While the Telegraph reporters may be criticised for ‘not serving the public good’, they did what journalists should do- reveal all sides of the story. As with the dilemma that surrounds Wikileaks, and the merit and motive behind revealing such harsh truths about the war and the government to the general public, it all comes down to the wise words that the truth hurts but cannot be avoided. And that’s not something even Vince Cable will be able to foxtrot his way out of.