Clearly Vince Cable’s comments about ‘declaring war’ on Murdoch undermined his independence and credibility in deciding whether Murdoch can buy the remaining 61% of BSkyB.
As many have said it is like a judge declaring they are declaring war on the defendant at the start of a trial. Hence he had to have this power removed by the PM. However for me the big issue in all this (politicians deciding on M&A matters have always brought politics into it – they can’t help themselves; they are politicians! – they normally just don’t have their real thoughts revealed publicly) is how the views got into the public domain.
It seems the Daily Telegraph went along to one of his constituency surgeries (presumably posing as constituents or at least people with a matter that required the input of the MP for Twickenham) and secretly recorded his comments.
For me this seems to break the quasi ‘Hippocratic oath’ type nature of discussions between MPs and their constituents. That is they should be totally confidential and private. It is a chance for MPs to feedback in private to their electors about what they really think – free form the shackles of collective responsibility and Party Whips etc.
If this marks a new trend then MPs’ will simply just parrot party lines and platitudes to constituents which they do on tv and in newspaper interviews. Journalists hate this as it is ‘boring’ copy and presumably is why the Daily Telegraph journos sought to circumvent this discipline by going to the surgery in the first place. Ironically it could lead to surgeries being a carbon copy of such interactions.
Not sure opening up constituency surgeries to public domain is in best interests of constituents or democracy.