21 December 2010

Vince Cable and Chairman Mao

The Daily Telegraph’s developing scoop concerning Vincent Cable (UK Coalition Business Secretary) may yet lead to his resignation. The problem is the indiscreet nature of his comments to two undercover reporters, Holly Watt and Laura Roberts, at a surgery (MP’s consultation session) in his Twickenham, SW London, constituency.

One of his remarks reported on 21 December:
There are a lot of things happening. There is a kind of Maoist revolution happening in a lot of areas like the health service, local government, reform, all this kind of stuff, which is in danger of getting out of control.
intrigued me, because we don’t hear so much about Chairman Mao Tse-Tung these days, certainly by comparison with 40 years ago when the Cultural Revolution was at its height. Vince Cable and I are old enough to remember the Chairman’s Red Book on sale in translation - probably as incompletely read as Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, but much cheaper. So it’s a funny old thing when Mao appears prominently twice in three days in the UK press. Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer on 19 December had an articleChairman Cameron's regime is not a million miles from Mao”, subheaded “Anywhere you look in Whitehall, there's a secretary of state unleashing upheaval with reforming zeal”.

All we know so far from the Telegraph about the timing of the calamitous surgery is that it was “earlier this month”. Cable’s website says that his surgeries are on Fridays, so Mao was on his mind before the Rawnsley article was published.  Perhaps this young lady, Red Book in hand, had turned up at one of them, and Rawnsley is a clairvoyant.

Surely not a Twickenham constituent


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