The ungracious and shameful manner in which Charles Kennedy’s alcoholism was handled by his party – the same party, lest we forget, for which he had grabbed the largest number of seats since its previous incarnation eighty years previously – was a sober lesson in Westminster morals at their most ruthless. Stabbed in the back by colleagues with unrealisable ambitions to better what Kennedy had achieved, he was replaced by Sir Menzies (AKA ‘Ming the Merciless’) Campbell, whose leadership was such a roaring success it lasted barely a year. And then came Clegg. Alas, poor Nick, we knew him well. Gordon Brown agreed with him, and so did David Cameron.

It was only when the Con-Dem Coalition was ripped apart by cynically effective Tory electioneering in 2015 that the shackles the Lib Dems placed on the most damaging Conservative policies became apparent; not that the electorate recognised this, taking out their frustrations with austerity politics on the junior partners and decimating their numbers, forcing Nick Clegg to fall on his leadership sword as a consequence. A party reduced to single figures had little in the way of choice when it came to a successor and in stepped Tim Farron. Yes, Tim Farron; remember him?

Tim Farron was the fish finger party leader whose General Election campaign barely a month ago was dogged by persistent questions over his faith and its official position on gay sex (presumably not a missionary one). When he quit a couple of weeks ago, Farron cited his God-bothering as one of the main reasons for resigning; he apparently regarded it as an impossibility to lead his party and ‘live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching’. Why run in the first place then, vicar?

Yes, some of the grillings he received on account of his religious beliefs were unfair; as I said at the time, would he have been similarly pursued on this one question had he been a Muslim MP rather than a Christian one? But Farron had presented the media with such an open goal that it merely highlighted his evident unsuitability for leading a political party; in recent years, his efforts at leadership have only been matched by some of the clowns in the UKIP hot-seat.

Why on earth Farron chose to compete in the last General Election campaign when he’d obviously decided to quit at the soonest available moment says everything about the diminished aspirations of the Lib Dems. That his resignation was announced on a day when the country was still coming to terms with the Grenfell Tower disaster underlines the unfortunate and inopportune timing where his party is concerned of late. Not to worry, though; the Lib Dems have their very own Jezza! Yes, Old Mother Cable is back, and it looks as if the man who sold the Royal Mail down the river during his stint as Coalition Business Secretary is poised to step into the breach as saviour!

The 74-year-old Westminster veteran was missing in action for two years, but returned to Parliament three weeks ago and now stands to lead his party out of the wilderness. Even with an improved showing at this year’s General Election, the Lib Dems still have a paucity of talent to draw upon when it comes to leadership, and another Lib Dem who has returned to Parliament after two years’ absence, Ed Davey, has ruled himself out of standing by citing the tried and trusted ‘I want to spend more time with my family’ excuse; why become an MP again if that’s such a prominent concern? Other potential contenders – Norman Lamb and Jo Swinson (another returnee) – have also pulled out, which leaves Cable with a virtually unchallenged path to the crown of thorns that is being Lib Dem leader.

Sir Vince has already stated his intention to push for a second EU Referendum, which may win him a few votes with Remainers in permanent denial, though I suspect the rest of the country will see it as precisely what it is – a desperate clutch at desperate straws by a desperate party. It’s not as though the Lib Dems have anything else to clutch at now, yet their approach to the Brexit conundrum didn’t exactly set the electorate alight during the General Election, anyway; they only won 12 seats, after all. And the fact they’re poised to place their future in the hands of a man who someone once compared to Mr Barrowclough from ‘Porridge’ just about sums up their utter irrelevance to the changed political landscape of 2017.


The news that six people – three of them former coppers – will be charged with offences relating to the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989 flies in the face of the usual routine where ex-police officers have bent the rules to cover their own backs. Early retirement is the standard reward as the offenders are pensioned off and stick to their stories. Yes, it may be a belated announcement that the Crown Prosecution Service have charged six involved on the day, but it’s about bloody time. One of the six is Sir Norman Bettison, a Chief Inspector with the South Yorkshire Police in 1989, and a man who competed with Kelvin McKenzie to propagate the most despicable myths re the behaviour of the fans that day. He is being charged with four offences of misconduct in public office.

Another senior officer at the time, David Duckenfield, is a former Chief Superintendent who was match commander on the fatal day in question; he was the man who gave the order for the exit gate to be opened and therefore allowed the rush of Liverpool fans into the central pens of the terraces behind the goals that provoked the crush that resulted in 95 deaths; he is being charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.

As happened at Orgreave during the Miners’ Strike five years earlier, South Yorkshire Police looked after their own at the expense of those who suffered as a consequence of their actions at Hillsborough; it is only due to the remarkable resilience and tenacity of the bereaved families that today’s announcement by the CPS has come to pass. Showing the same dogged determination as those who hunted down Nazi War Criminals in the 50s and 60s, their tireless efforts not only led to the Operation Resolve investigation, but they may now finally see someone held accountable in a court of law. This is long overdue, and we can only hope justice will eventually be done. If elderly ‘sex offenders’ can be pursued by the police for offences committed half-a-century ago, why can’t elderly policemen be pursued likewise?

© The Editor

10 thoughts on “THE CABLE GUY

  1. On Cable . . .
    It may be argued that the Lib Dems are far more relevant politically than their recent meagre seat-haul conveys.
    Imagine for a moment that the Lib Dems did not exist, then speculate on what might have happened to the 2.4m votes that they amassed. Chances are those votes would not have been equally distributed across the piece, so their very presence has a significant electoral influence, even when they don’t win seats.

    On Hillsborough . . .
    With admittedly limited knowledge, I tend to view two key players in quite different ways.
    Put in the same position as Duckenfield on the day, faced with a potentially riotous assembly outside the ground, minutes before the kick-off of a vital match, it is not difficult to accept his immediate judgement that opening the gate seemed to offer a lower risk than leaving it closed – it is only 20/20 hindsight that establishes the fatal consequences of his ‘error’. I suspect he may have been guilty of one misjudgement, rather than gross negligence leading to manslaughter x 96.
    Bettison is a different kettle of fish. A schemer of the first order, I find it easy to believe that he could have played a significant, if not leading part, in an attempt to divert any responsibility from his organisation and onto anyone else conveniently available. That’s what he had always considered his job to be and that operating principle had seen him ascend to very high office and honour. Whether that high office and honour were valid may be clarified in the forthcoming court case.

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    1. Had I seen that first, I might not have proffered a comment!

      Must be just about the first time I have agreed with everything you said, and perticularly in respect to Duckenfield



  2. Everyone draws their own line in the sand as to the limits of their forbearance

    But any liberal worth their salt recognises that when others go beyond that, and do no harm to others, they have to live with, and make allowance for such

    If Christians truly believe, and I use the word truly cautiously as many are utterly ignorant of the real consequences and do their fellow believers a great disservice, if they truly believe in the notion that one should ‘love your enemy’, they should be the ultimate liberals in that their acceptance of those who are outside of their personal line should be total and unequivocal

    Leaving aside whether or not he truly made for a good leader or not, TF got shafted by those in his own party who drew their line to positively exclude him, and those like him, an illiberal, and unChristian act, and stance

    As for Hillsborough, it’s not as if those in charge were Nazis, denizens of the Cultural Revolution, Maoists, or the Khmer Rouge. They were you, or me, and they made mistakes. Most of us are as fortunate as being in the position where ours didn’t lead to anyone dying. Not all might be entirely innocent of some ‘evil’, especially on trying to cover up anything, but the puritanical hypocrisy of 20/20 hindsight surely stinks


    1. I only draw the Nazi War Criminal comparison with regards to the way the bereaved families have pursued justice ever since 1989, and the way in which those responsible have consistently closed ranks and fabricated what appears to be a false account of events. Personally, I feel if justice catches up with them at last and they’re found guilty, then job done. 96 deaths. Say no more.


    2. Tim Farron may observe the actions of a true leader in Angela Merkel, who has now quite remarkably overcome her lifelong aversion to gay marriage, suddenly becoming a most positive supporter.
      Clearly this is in no way connected to the real-politik of a forthcoming election, when she calculates that she may need the support of more liberal types to continue her Fourth Reich’s reign over Europe.

      Principles are wonderful things but can be very expensive to maintain: Frau Merkel’s principles are always as flexible as they need to be to achieve the desired outcome – a lesson for Tiny Tim to contemplate in his early retirement, whilst carefully removing all the pre-used knives from his back.

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  3. With regards to Tim Farron: well, it’s a very similar position to Jeremy Corbyn and Trident, isn’t it?

    You will always have problems if your personal beliefs are at odds with those of the party you lead (the Libs being longstanding supporters of equal rights for gay people).

    With regard to South Yorkshire police – the Justice for Orgreave campaign continues. Amber Rudd has been stonewalling as Home Secretary about releasing Government files on the incident from the past. I expect she is hoping everyone involved will be dead by the time she gets around to it, or will release them if the outcome of the trial is conducive to that. Admittedly, just rumination on my part on that last point.

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    1. A subtle difference with the Corbyn case – the Labour Party only ‘supports’ Trident in pragmatic defence of the jobs (and votes) in the sensitive area of its home and not wanting to be seen to be compromising the nation’s perceived security. Left to their true principles, they’d be with Jeremy’s own long-held and principled view, but electoral pragmatism currently hold sway in the NEC.

      There is a recent case of a leader at variants with his party’s natural beliefs and that is David Cameron, who pushed through social legislation like gay marriage despite huge opposition from within the core of his own party, potentially sacrificing many traditional votes as a consequence. Whether those losses were cynically expected to be offset by more ‘liberal’ gains may or may not be reflected in electoral outcomes.

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  4. We can all now sit back and relax whilst the Grenfell Tower inquiry takes us along a similar road as Hillsborough – there is no justice in Britain in 2017- people have been charged after 28 years – others like the FA and Sheffield Wednesday have got away with it for not having a safety certificate — but nobody has yet been found guilty of anything – and so on it goes …..

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