Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Statesman Falls Out of Love With Vince Cable

It was inevitable, I suppose. In this country we love to build people up and then delight in seeing them knocked down.

Some people in politics thought that Vince Cable would be immune to this truism, but in this week's New Statesman Mehdi Hasan has written a lengthy profile of Dr Cable, which is hardly flattering.

He questions his reputation as an economic guru and calls into doubt his record as chief economist at Shell. Hasan even criticises his record as MP for Twickenham.

I am not sure the media is ready to fall out of love with Vince Cable yet, but it will be interesting to see what traction this profile gets. My guess is not much.


Thats News said...

What a dull, dull article.

DespairingLiberal said...

I am still waiting for the press to get off it's collective bottom and write something probing about D Cameron. The extent to which this rather slippery politician has been allowed to get away with all his spinning is really quite extraordinary. He was, for example, the largest expenses claimant in the House (despite also being very wealthy) yet this has had barely a mention. He was closely involved with Lamont on Black Wednesday yet nobody in the media has noticed this. He flirts with neo-fachists, anti-semites and racists across Europe, yet this is all fine.

I assume one day in the distant future there will be one of those "mass apologies" the media sometimes indulge in, when they as one admit they were totally wrong about person X and they really should have investigated them but for some strange reason they didn't - as with Bush and Cheney in the US.

Chris Harrison said...

The New Statesman is SO iconoclastic, so thought-provoking, so WORTH PAYING FOR. How fortunate that they secured journalists of the calibre of Macintyre and Hassan. How fortunate for the nation!

Paddy Briggs said...

The section in Mehdi Hasan’s piece on Cable at Shell is ignorant nonsense. I was working in Shell at the same time as Vince and I can assure anyone that he was far from being in the loop on Nigeria – nor was he a “former high-ranking Shell official”. Michael White was right when he said "Please note that is not a job major multinational oil companies give to dumbos they want to shift out of accounts: it is proper work." But Hasan is way off the mark when he says that Cable was close to influencing decision-making on issues like Nigeria.

Vince Cable was one of the external contractor hires that Shell made from time to time to help them especially on Scenario planning work. These people were all seriously smart and immensely able – but they were backroom workers not anywhere in the line. It is inconceivable that Vince or any of his colleagues in Group Planning would have been consulted on any key current issues. That was not their role. That role was to look forward at possible futures – social, political and economic and to contribute to the scenario wring process. The people like Vince were not especially senior in the organisation and they were certainly nowhere near a level which would allow the description “high-ranking” to be used accurately.

No doubt from time to time as economic issues relevant to Shell’s business were under discussion Vince would have been asked for his views. And he would certainly have been present with other middle to senior mangers at conferences and the like. But his job was absolutely not an executive job and any errors and failures that Shell made during his years with the corporation cannot be laid at all at his door.

digger said...

thanks for posting this Iain and giving it a wider audience otherwise I'd have completely missed it.

Whatever,is all I can say.Vince is one of the few MP's that has emerged out of the last year or two with any credit for
a not claiming for a second home
b being one of the few politicians who understood a property bubble was forming.

Frugal Dougal said...

In how mumbo-jumbo conquered the world, former New Statesmanite Francis Wheen states that somebody who read Reader's Digest during the Cold War would have had a better idea about what was happening in the world than a New Statesman reader. 'Nuff said.

Bardirect said...

Tedious reading but finally someone's cottoned on to Vacuous Vince.

And the LibDemsupporters will say, "When did Cameron stop beating his kids" and "What about Darfur and Burma."

Alex said...

Cable is somewhat shallow, but then so is most of the media. They are made for each other.

Tom said...

Almost nice to see the NS turn on him, although sadly I suspect for party political reasons. Cable is vastly overrated. He's the best leader the Liberal Democrats never really had (for longer than the duration of a leadership contest), but his economics leave a lot to be desired. His hectoring on nationalisation I suspect was a major influence on the awful damage the Labour government has done to this country over the past year or so.

Anonymous said...

Really crap article. Will have no effect on Cable's reputation.

The writer's main gripe is that he thinks Cable too right wing.

Nicholas said...

FFS. The Staggers goes from bad to worst. This Hasan character’s article looks like something better printed in Socialist Worker.

Why on earth would the chief economist of Shell have an in-depth knowledge of Nigeria’s internal politics? I’m not excusing the human rights abuses that went on in that country, but look at a lot of the oil producing countries and human rights is not something to write home about. I do hope there are no Labour voting people working for any oil company – Hasan will come after you if you are.

Living in Richmond I also happen to know something about the Twickenham riverside site. Derelict for over 25 years after the then Tory run council shut down the swimming pool that was there, the redevelopment of the site has been a political hot potato with both Tory and Lib Dem controlled councils unable to get plans through to enhance and improve the site without attracting the ire of at most 500 people - who it must be admitted know how to run a good PR campaign. The playground is a bog standard one found up and down the land (and would be improved by having some money spent on it which developing the site would bring) and the David Bellemy garden is a joke.

How Kingsley Amis, Richard Crossman and Anthony Howard must be turning in their graves (or near graves) to see what rubbish a once great magazine now churns out, and the quality of the journalists it employs.

Man in a Shed said...

I'm not Vince Cable fan but I have to say that article was just hopeless.

It contained the sort of arguments that you normally find in a Lib Dem campaign leaflet - ironically enough. The guilt by association trick, the not supporting a local campaign ploy etc. And of course the writing in the Daily Mail thought crime.

There's a good case to present against Vince Cable's politics - but this just isn't it. As a man he seems much more likeable and perhaps trustworthy than many of the others.

Paddy Briggs comments cover the Shell issue well.

Jabba the Cat said...

Vince Cable has always blown out of his arse, it's why he is a LibDim...aka a mini socialist on carrot juice.

trevorsden said...

DesLib - what an absolute string of Bollocks.

As has been clearly and definitely exposed Cameron is not dealing with 'fascists' that is just a labour smear.

I see no evidence of him being 'slippery' - when this comes from a liberal who has someone like Clegg as his leader that charge is a bit rich.

What does being a bag carrier for Lamont have to do with anything, except give him a front row seat in to the lying duplicity of the German finance minister. Lamont was just following Tory policy which was in turn supported by one G.Brown and J.Smith and N.Kinnock (and whichever nondescript was leading the LibDems at the time.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

My dad had a picture of a young, leather-clad Vince, in 1964 in a club in York. He was playing bass guitar and fronting a group called "Vince Cable and the Hotwires". I still have the flyer somewhere.

I wrote to Mr Cable about this and never got a reply. He is curiously silent about that period of his life.

neil craig said...

One of the points made against him is that back when Brown was calling for light touch financial regulation he was calling for light touch financial regulation. Actually on that i think they were right then. Not as right as John Redwood, who was calling not just for light touch regulatiion but saying exactly where that should be, but more right than Brown & Cable who now call for overregulation to ensure the financial services industry never do anything that doesn't work (& thus never do anything that does either).

One thing the article doesn't mention is Cable coming out in September for cutting interest rates to stop a crash when others only called for it in October. Redwood had called for it a year previously.

Isn't it a good thing that journalists, being, they assure us, experts on politics, are so good at spotting politicians who go against herd & prove to be right.

Jabba the Cat said...

@ trevorsden said...

"...and whichever nondescript was leading the LibDems at the time..."

Wasn't it Paddy's Roundabout at the time?

James Higham said...

It was inevitable, I suppose. In this country we love to build people up and then delight in seeing them knocked down.

Not unlike the Australians - they call it the tall poppy syndrome down there.

Anonymous said...

Vince is undoubtedly overrated, but what makes this article interesting is that he is attacked from the left.

The premise that the nationalisation of Northern Rock was a success is nonsense - it is actually Cable's biggest policy failure.

Nonetheless, it's good to see the halo finally slipping and recognition of the fact that he's quite a useless local MP (aside from turning up to photo ops).

Michael Heaver said...

The media are dunces for falling in love with him in the past place. He's a wonk, and not a very good one, even if he is good at sounding like he knows what he's talking about.

Cuffleyburgers said...

Mehdi has already shown himself to be an utter utter arse writing for an unspeakably dreadful commie rag.

Pointless effort at a character assassination

John Pickworth said...

Vince Cable?

I've seen weather vanes change direction more convincingly.

David from Ealing said...

I was wondering about taking out a subscription to the NS recently. Maybe I won't bother.

Oh, and Wrinkled Weasel, Vince Cable's autobiography is coming out later this year. Whether it will tell you much about his rock days, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

The Twickenham Riverside thing is a load of rubbish. The "local referendum" was just a propoganda stunt by busy-body local residents, the 'popular' riverside is just a pretty ordinary playground, a weird arty-farty garden type thing (I guess this is the award winning garden) and lots and lots of pidgeon poo.

Me vs Maradona vs Elvis said...

This article should never have needed to have been written - quite on what basis Cable was ever regarded as an informed figure on the economy (or anything else) I have no idea.

It says something about our politics and media that an individual can read out a quotation (which Cable nicked from a newspaper article) comparing the PM to Mr Bean and suddenly become respected.

richmond rick said...

a lefty liberal with a tory dad,and an economist for shell.

it just does not add up.

chippy?,but hey thats what the brits are.
he never quite got the fact that if the people that borrowed all this money ,paid it back,we would not be in this mess.

Anonymous said...

Catch up people,

The job of Chief Economist at Shell was/is to provide a paper cuttings service - or whatever it is now called in the digital age.

Non job really.

Anonymous said...

Vince was a lecturer in 'development economics' at Glasgow university in the 1970s.

A subject derided by most economists as suitable for less able students.

It doesn't add up... said...

Some history of Shell scenario planning here:

which refutes the specific allegation about Saro Wiwa and the planner/economist views. Of course, the real guru was Pierre Wack.

Martin said...

Cable is an utter idiot. Anyone who thinks this doddering old man is some sort of economic expert is barking mad.

Cable gets an easy ride every time he pops his ugly mug on the BBC. Lefty beeboids like Nicki Campbell, Simon Mayo and so on go coo when St Vince is on. They sit crossed legged at his feet whilst staring into his eyes wondering what the next pearl of wisdom will be.

Great statements like "we need to look at public spending in the whole" or "The Tories have no plans, we do, we're going to look at everything" or "public sector pensions need to be looked at"

Stunning stuff Vince. With insights like that you should be leading the world in economic reform. PRAT.