Wednesday, 22 December 2010

"We are all guilty...": some thoughts on Vince Cable

I was quite taken by the Vince Cable episode. Not because is revealed the scale of the twinkle-toed sage of Twickenham's self-importance and arrogance although that was very clear from the transcripts:

"Can I be very frank with you, and I'm not expecting you to quote this outside. I have a nuclear option, it's like fighting a war. They know I have nuclear weapons, but I don't have any conventional weapons. If they push me too far I can walk out of the government and bring the government down and they know it. So its a question of how you use that intelligently without getting involved in a war that destroys all of us."

Clearly the passing resemblance between Vince and a certain Yoda has gone to his head!

However, this isn't the thing that has taken me. I am fascinated by the manner in which the event - a gentle little honey trap on a self-important cabinet minister - has played out. Not only are we continuing to debate whether the "Coalition" is going to hold on but we are also discussing the ethics of the Daily Telegraph's 'sting', the nature of debate around the ownership of media and whether Liberal Democrats are now revealed as evil, blood-sucking monsters from the planet Tory!

Moreover, the entire affair yet again reveals the presumption - reinforced by the Wikileaks saga, the revelations about MPs expenses and a whole host of revelations within out newspapers - that much is conducted in secret and that people lie. Politicians lie, businessmen lie, trade unionists lie, footballers lie and film stars lie. Indeed, the only place where the truth remains untarnished is within the media, those stalwart champions of honesty and decency!

Put simply this is all rubbish. The sting on Vince Cable reveals his pomposity and self-importance and much of the Wikileaks stuff merely shows that is suits people sometimes to be a little duplicitous. And in doing so these people - be they diplomats, cabinet ministers or nine-year-old schoolboys - lie. They lie because we all lie - it's convenient, quick and most of the time pretty harmless. So-called transparency - whether through the theft of private information or through the recording of private conversations - serves only to change the basis on which we lie not the fact of our lying.

So when people clamber up onto their high horses over Vince Cable's revelations they serve no purpose other than to demonstrate the essential - and hideous - truth. The biggest sin isn't to lie, to cover up or to deceive. The biggest sin is to get caught out!

In the end we get the politicians we deserve - lying, duplicitous, double-dealing. As Heinz Kiosk would have out it....

"We are all guilty!"


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