Thursday, 13 January 2011

Mr "Has Been" returns to the Commons

Vince Cable appears to be surviving his first appearance at the Commons dispatch box since his taped confessions with ease.

Cable was the Colossus of the coalition until he humiliated himself last month by boasting to undercover journalists that he could take a "nuclear option" of walking out of government and was "at war" with the media baron Rupert Murdoch.

As a result he was stripped of responsibility for judging the competition implications of News Corporation bid for BSkyB and his coat was on a shoogly nail on the back of the cabinet door.

His self-destructive comments also seemed to strip him of all influence in the battle to rein in bank bonuses and pressure them into more lending.

As is usual Business questions these days the session was studded with examples from MPs about businesses in their constituencies that are struggling to get bank credit. This is as big a scandal as the bank bonuses but the government seems no more able to do anything about it.

Cable may still go from government (replaced by David Laws perhaps) but not because of any firepower the opposition has turned on him.

There was only a glancing blow from Shadow Business Secretary John Denham who said Cable was "hanging onto his job by a thread" and Chucka Umanna (Streatham) accused him of "being in office but not in power" - but neither were knock-outs.

Tom Watson said Cable had gone from Chairman Mao to Mr Has-been but Vince claimed his original version of that joke was far better. He had a few anxious glances to the press gallery, but as the session processed the nuclear-armed member for Twickenham appeared to be enjoying himself.

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