When I appeared on Rory Bremner's panel in his pre-election show at the Warwick Arts Centre, a questioner from the audience asked us to name a politician who seemed to better than the rest or words to that effect. I named Vince Cable and got a ripple of applause from the audience.
As Enoch Powell remarked, all political careers end in failure and, for all his skills on the dance floor, Vince Cable's reputation has taken a nose dive. He shouldn't have made such remarks to strangers, particularly when he was taking decisions in a quasi-judicial capacity.
If he wanted a war on Murdoch, he has lost. It will now be very difficult to stop the BSkyB takeover. News Corp are even thinking of challenging the reference to Ofcom through judicial review.
Nevertheless, Vince has got off relatively lightly. The Conservative right would have liked Ken Clarke moved into the business portfolio to stop him being 'soft' on criminals. As it is, David Hunt who is a through-and-through Cameroony has got additional powers.
One of the paradoxical consequences of these events (including similar stings carried out on lesser Liberal lights) may be to give a boost to the morale of Lib Dem activists who thought the party was abandoning its principles. They can now be reassured that there is some evidence that ministers are fighting their corner in government.
It should also be remembered that when there is a one party government personality clashes and differences over policy arise between ministers. There is, nevertheless, something in the argument that a party that has been out of office for a generation was ill prepared for the responsibilities of government.