Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Crucifixion of Saint Vince......

Saint Vince and the Students
a cautionary tale

The Early Years
The recent elevation of the Blessed Vince Cable to Sainthood is nowhere prefigured in his early years. In his youth, Vincent (as he was then known) Cable was an adherent of the Labour creed and a modest, but some say quietly efficient, local councillor in the northern city of Glasgow. In the early 1980s he was subject to a visitation and conversion to the new sect of The Democratic Party under the leadership of the waywardly charismatic preacher, David Owen. Owen was renowned for his eloquence, although his honorary title of "Dr Death" hinted at more sulphuric qualities. The subsequent merger of the Democrats with the broader church of the Liberals and the dual leadership with the Blessed David Steel brought a some light and balance to the Alliance, eventually resulting in the Liberal Democrat canon, a merged and complementary system of beliefs. Through all of this time, Vincent worked quietly to hone his skills as an economist and mentor of his needy constituents, and showed none of the flair or overt showmanship that marked his later, more public years.

The Rise to Prominence
In less turbulent times is likely that Vincent would have toiled in happy obscurity. But the times were not nornal or placid: the extraordinary financial upheavals of the early 21st Century thrust this retiring man into public view. One brilliant joke about Gordon Brown and Mr Bean, and the heretofore invisible man of the Liberal Democrat Synod was confirmed as a seer and economic guru of majestic proportions. A small but significant group of Vince (as he was now known) worshippers grew up in the press and broadcasting and, as his competence was confirmed, his influence flourished. The modest man now became the trustworthy rock. When an economic truth was in need of establishing, Vince became, in the vulgar language of the time, the "go-to" man. "Is it true, Vince?", they would plead, from the pages of the Financial Times or from the holy-of-holies on Newsnight and Question Time. "Yes, it is true" or "No, I don't believe it is ": the sage would nod and the fact would be established or dismissed. The tranformation to the Blessed Vince Cable came about at this time. The holy man at the height of his powers bestrode the arena with no credible opposition. If Vince said it, it was true. If Vince denied it, the idea, and the opposition, crumbled to dust.

Sainthood and The Fall
During all of his years of rise and prominence, the suspicion lingered that The Blessed Vince harboured within his soul an echoing affection for his youthful Labour self. Not in a desire to return to that fold, but an attraction to the Labour credo of more caring concern for the masses. It was believed that Vince inhabited what is known as "left" or "the left wing" of the Liberal Democrat system of beleifs and that he had sympathy with bigger rather than smaller government and the need for fair taxation and distribution. Vince encouraged this belief. When asked if cuts should be faster or slower, deeper or less deep, he would always reply "slower and less deep is the way". And on the matter of charging for University Education he would say, and indeed pledge in writing, "no increase in fees is a matter of faith for me".

Sainthood was inevitable and in followed directly on the election of his group to support the larger Conservative convention in the Government of May 2010. Saint Vince became a Minister of Business and at last had the power to enact his principles. Which is where the tale takes a strange and tragic turn: for Saint Vince, far from being an all-seeing eye and predicter of economic recovery, changed his philosophy. No longer was it "slower and less deep", it became " faster and faster and deeper and deeper".. And the cry of "no increased fees" became, in the cold light of power, "triple the fees and beggar the students". It was as if the gentle shephard had become the ravening wolf. The Blessed Vince turned in an instant into the Savanarola of Westminster. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" became the slogan, cuts and cuts and cuts, the reality.

Recent events have led to many people questioning the miraculous powers of the newly minted saint. His apparent recantation of the commitment to the hike in tuition fees, a policy that St Vince himself codified, and his offer to abstain on the vote for the fees rise, have raised doubts as to his piety. How, the faithful ask, can one man be in favour of and against the same prescription at the same time? And how can he keep his sainthood in the light of such apostasy?

 It seems that the meteoric rise of St Vince is about to be followed by an equally sudden descent. A crucifixion has been arranged. The media is primed, the opposition is armed and the victim looks willing to accept his fate.......

1 comment:

  1. oh dear! I seem to have made some sort of error in submitting my original comment... let me try again.

    Labourite criticising someone on the subject of Tuitions fees - the ones that were never going to be but were finally introduced by Labour!
    It's a bit "pot calling kettle black" isn't it - or in more plain parlance... Hypocritical!