How Tony Screwed Vince

Tony Blair has a lot to answer for. I’m not talking about Iraq though – not quite that bad but I’m still talking about something pretty terrible:

I believe that Tony Blair was personally responsible for David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

I’d better explain. Blair’s annihilation of IDS and Michael Howard convinced the Conservative party that they had to fight fire with fire. Wheeling out old people with poor communication skills wasn’t working. The Lib Dems had also tried it with Sir Menzies Campbell… but not for very long.

And so it came to pass that the other parties each created a leader in Blair’s image and lo, they were shit.

One politician who was not created in Blair’s image, however, is Vince Cable. On Twitter this week I wrote this:

I do feel sorry for Vince Cable. He looks like a man who ordered steak and chips but a turd sandwich arrived and his boss made him eat it.

Worse still, after he ate it, his boss made him go on TV and say, “Yum yum.”

(I would like to take a moment to apologise for saying “turd sandwich”. I shouldn’t have said that. I should have said “turd baguette” as a turd would fit much better in a baguette.*)

I do wonder how far Nick Clegg’s approval ratings have fallen since the heady days of the party leaders’ debates in the run up to the election. He did well in those debates, not because he had better policies but because he did the best job of articulating the problems with the policies of the other two. He did such a good job that I, and I’m sure many others, thought he believed in what he was saying.

A picture of Nick Clegg before the election

A picture of Nick Clegg before the election

Just a few weeks later it became clear this could not have been further from the truth. Once Cameron dangled his mouldy carrot of power in front of Clegg’s mouth, there was no turning back. Since that day pretty much everything that Clegg preached before the election has been swept under the carpet and while I can understand the lure of power I am still, in equal measure, impressed and horrified at how easily he has forgotten everything he put into his party manifesto.

Vince on the other hand hasn’t found his turd sandwich quite so easy to stomach. I think, in fact, he would be a happier man today if the general election had resulted in a decent gain of seats for the Lib Dems but no coalition. Vince was impressive in opposition. I also think he would be impressive as Chancellor in a Lib Dem government. He is distinctly unimpressive, however, when it comes to maintaining a smile whilst implementing policies with which he doesn’t agree.

This phenomenon reached a whole new level this week though when Vince announced that he might not vote for “his own” policy on university tuition fees. “His own” policy, by the way, is to allow universities to charge tuition fees of up to £9,000 per year.

I will now take a step back. I was lucky enough to attend university shortly before tuition fees came into being. I received the maximum student grant and had a huge amount of help from my parents but it was still a colossal task to pay off the £9,000 of debt I had when I left. If I did the same today under the proposed scheme I would likely have around £40,000 of debt. I have no idea how I would pay that off.

An argument often used in favour of hiking up tuition fees is that the mean lifetime earnings of people with degrees is higher than the mean lifetime earnings of people without one. While this is true it is pitting a simplistic argument against a complex problem. For a start, if you plot earnings vs number of people earning that wage you will see a skewed distribution – i.e. there are a small number of people earning huge wages which pushes the mean up to be higher than what most people actually earn.

Additionally there are of course, careers which require higher educational training which pay well below the mean. If I were selecting a university course today I would not, as I did 14 years ago, choose the subject in which I was most interested. I would instead choose between:

  • Which subject gives me the best chance of being able to repay a debt of £40,000?
  • I am not going to go to university

Tuition fees are not right and tuition fees are not wrong. I could write a whole other post on what I think about that subject and still only skim the surface. This blog post is not about what the best policy is though – it is about Vince and I must bring it back to that subject.

My belief is that Vince is more or less a good bloke but is currently in a position of terrible inner conflict. Does he go with what he believes or does he go with what David Cameron believes? I think he is one of the most capable politicians in the current government but sadly, I have serious doubts as to whether he will be able to stick it out in his cabinet role and a resignation before the next election would not surprise me.

I don’t know the reasons why Vince Cable decided to get into politics but I suspect his current predicament wasn’t in the plan. He is caught between two Tony Blair clones when he never wanted to have anything to do with Tony Blair at all.

When the labour leadership election was going on I wanted Ed Miliband to win. Not just because he had a better understanding of the important issues than his brother did but also that David would have been a third Tony Blair chucked into the mix and I couldn’t have voted for any of them. Ed will now have the problem of trying to break the “let’s all be Blair” stranglehold on British politics but I sense that most of us are more than ready to put that behind us so maybe he might just stand a chance.

You will have noted above when I said Vince might vote against his own policy I put “his own” in quotes. I did that because although it was widely reported in the media as being his own, I actually don’t class it as his own policy at all – it’s David’s. Vince’s own policy was the one under which the Lib Dems fought the last election and it’s interesting because it is more than a little bit different. It goes like this:

We will abolish tuition fees.

Think about his position for a moment. He wanted tuition fees abolished and yet he is now expected to be the one who takes responsibility for increasing them. It’s not easy to reconcile those two policies is it?

I mean – the difference between them would cause a pretty fucking massive problem for anyone, right?

Anyone that is, except for Nick Clegg.


*Yes, blatantly stolen from Alan Partridge’s “infected spinal column in a bap”.


About RedEaredRabbit
My name is RedEaredRabbit, King of Kings. Look on my works ye Mighty and despair.

13 Responses to How Tony Screwed Vince

  1. WOW! You Blair haters have a way with laying the blame for everything where you think it belongs. Even when it doesn’t.

    I assume this is tongue-in-cheek, and to be fair you have a lightness of touch usually lacking in those of your (evident) opinion on Tony Blair.

    But in case you’re not joking, let’s get a few things straight.

    It is not Blair’s fault that he is a uniquely gifted politician – THE consummate politician and communicator of his generation in fact – and one other lesser men would therefore wish to emulate. That is to his credit, not to his blame. It is to their credit that they recognise these facts.

    It is not his fault that the useless LDs and Cons (I think that’s what they are) have decided to go full blast for copying THE MASTER (as Osborne and Cameron describe him) even down to the hand movements.

    It is not Blair’s fault that both Clegg and Cameron have studied him to see how he did it. WON. THREE times.

    Oh, btw, you forgot to add that Blair started the Great Fire of London, the Second Ice Age and the Flood, as well as WW1 and 2. How remiss of you.

  2. Rob says:

    Dear keeptonyblairforpm

    It is precisely because people like David Cameron can copy Blair and get elected irrespective of their policies, ethics, views, substance etc that we are in this mess.

    Call me Tony’s legacy is the politics of soundbites and hand gestures, of which he undeniably was the Master. But this doesn’t mean that he, or his legacy, are a good thing.

    They called Josef Goebbels the Master too by the way.

    • Rob,

      A touch premature with the use of Godwin’s Law, aren’t we?


      Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies, which is also called simply as Godwin’s Law, is a theory that was presented in 1990 by Mike Godwin. Godwin forwarded that most discussion on the internet that have become long-threaded would have a tendency at some point to devolve into mud slinging competitions at the very end. Godwin posited that the longer the discussion thread gets the likelihood of a Nazi comparison being presented also increases. Therefore, Godwin’s Rule officially states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

      Usually, examples of online discussions that satisfy Godwin’s Rule would usually contain hyperbole. The whole objective behind the action is to try and invalidate the opposing side by comparing them or their beliefs to the Nazi Party. But this tactic would usually backfire.

      So, looks like your argument’s lost, before it really got started.

  3. Rob says:

    Hello Peter!

    You do spend a lot of time on the Internet these days don’t you? I wasn’t comparing Tony Blair to the Nazis, I was trying to make the point that to be considered The Master of political communication, doesn’t necessarily make you the best thing since sliced bread – ergo the Goebbels example. So I’m not sure Godwin’s Law, officially or unofficially, applies in this case. Though you do seem to know a lot more about the laws of the Internet than me.

    That said, you may be on to something with a direct Nazi comparison. I mean, Tony and Hitler both have an unfortunate record of starting illegal wars come to think of it.

    By the way – I think that last sentence does allow you to invoke Godwin’s Law of the Interweb to conclusively win this argument. Officially.

  4. calbryant says:

    Ugh. How many of our civil liberties did Blair remove? How many pointless laws did he pass? Blair was all polish, and in the end it matters not how nice the icing is: an iced turd is still a turd and not a wedding cake.

    So keep greasing up Blair’s ass, but remember that he’s the man who reduced British politics to the level of reality television.

    • Oh really?

      A man of the people then?

      I never watch so-called “reality television”. Boring. Awful people, generally. As you can see I wouldn’t want to serve the “people” if they paid me properly for it. Or even appreciated me, which they probably wouldn’t.

      Just my opinion of the political nous of the people.

      Blair was brilliant. Still is.

  5. Rob

    You said, charmingly, “His last sentence, you half-wit.”

    So are you conceding that your tactic has backfired? I should have taken this at face value, as I was inclined to on first reading it. But I am just not used to anyone on the internet EVER conceding they might be wrong about anything.

    Nice to see you’re one of the few – the exception that proves the rule.

    There’s hope yet.

    • Actually I said that, not Rob.

      I was merely commenting on something which was obvious to everyone except, it seems, you.

      I also enjoyed you blaming him for his “html link system” which caused you to mess up posting a link in your own comment.
      Don’t worry – we all appreciate the problem was caused by Rob’s “html link system”.

      Otherwise you would have made yourself look like a complete cock.

      Kind regards,

  6. Another fine comment, Mr Rabbit. But I can’t help thinking there’s a deeper issue that we need to address urgently. It’s not so much that our prospective leaders are so lacking in imagination that they feel they have to become clones of the last successful thing in order to achieve prominence (rather like Simon Cowell moulding X-Factor contestants in the image of whatever act was a popular success six months ago – this is not a recipe for longevity). It’s more to do with the fact that a very high proportion of our elected representatives – including all of the mainstream party leaders and the majority of their ‘management teams’ – are drawn from a very small proportion of the population. That is, they are an elite, in possession of considerable social end educational capital and the full sense of entitlement that goes with it. That Cameron and Clegg are so obviously influenced by Blair is almost immaterial; that they all come from the same social class, attended similar educational institutions, including one of just two universities, is far more worrying. Is it any surprise, therefore, that Nick Clegg has so quickly and easily acquiesced in his position within the ‘coalition’? I agree with you about Cable, though – he’s someone who would more than likely succeed at that level even in a system much more akin to a true meritocracy (indeed, he already has in his working life). Cameron and Clegg probably would not – they are too bland, too shallow, too bereft of real ideas or the courage to bring about genuine change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: