Chris Moncrieff: Cameron too afraid to fire loose cannon Cable

WHY doesn’t David Cameron dismiss his maverick Business Secretary, who recently described the increase in immigration – and the Government’s inability to control it – as “good news”? What kind of loyalty is this? York-born Vince Cable made the claim in what appears to be a blatant kick in the teeth for the Prime Minister.

This was before Newsnight reported that Downing Street had withheld publication of a cross-governmental report that suggests one potential impact of immigration is smaller than claimed.

Nevertheless Mr Cameron himself seems incapable, or afraid, of punishing his maverick Liberal Democrat Cabinet colleague, so the Home Secretary, Theresa May, shot him down in flames instead.

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Whoever said what though, it’s another clear example of why Cameron has said “no more coalitions”.

It’s unsurprising that Ed Miliband has followed course too. If Labour should emerge as the biggest party at Westminster after the next general election in the event of another hung Parliament, he has put paid to the idea of any alliance with the Liberal Democrats.

Of all the Liberal Democrat ministers in this coalition, Vince Cable has been the most fractious and difficult, as well as being gratuitously critical of the Prime Minister.

When a coalition is set up, both sides have to agree to compromise, but this principle seems to have bypassed Mr Cable. It is not enough for Mrs May to rebuke him – although it is a start. He should be sacked without delay and the Government should not be bothered about any adverse reaction from Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader.

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You cannot run an effective coalition with one of its supposedly key members continually snapping at its heels.

It could have been a successful coalition if Cable in particular, and Clegg to a lesser degree, had been more co-operative.

But it was not to be.

TORY Minister Mike Penning, a former Grenadier Guardsman and firefighter, self-deprecatingly describes himself as an oik.

In fact he is one of only a few Government Ministers who speaks the language of the electorate and behaves like a normal person.

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If Mr Penning, the Minister for Disabled People, is an oik, then this Government could do with a few more oiks at the top table.

ED Miliband has made a brave attempt to regularise membership of the Labour Party among trade unionists, and to reform the way in which the party leader is elected.

But I have a terrible suspicion that despite these moves he and the party will not be freed from the shackles of trade union domination. Tough-guy union leaders are not going to pour out millions of pounds into Labour’s coffers and expect nothing in return.

I cannot see a day dawning when the Labour Party will be able to go its own sweet way, without being ordered about by trade union bosses.

A pity, but a fact of life.

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WHAT on earth prompted the Prime Minister to waste taxpayers’ money on holding a Cabinet meeting in Aberdeen last week?

The expense involved in this stupid adventure was minuscule in relation to the trillions of pounds that the Government handles on almost a daily basis. But if he thought this stunt convinced the Scottish people about the folly – in his mind – of Scotland breaking away from the rest of the United Kingdom, he is sadly ingenuous and misguided.

It was a PR exercise as transparent as a newly polished window.

And this from a Government which complains about the extravagance of the European Parliament trundling between Brussels and Strasbourg at certain times of the year.

Talk about pot calling the kettle black.

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PETER Hain, a former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, says it is risible to suggest that Government Ministers were unaware of the letters sent out by police to IRA killers, saying they were no longer wanted men.

Hopefully more light will be shed on this when an inquiry is held into the “catastrophic mistake” of sending such a letter to a man who has been accused of the murder of four British servicemen, and who now walks free.

The Attorney General fiercely denied this was not an amnesty, yet failed to provide any other word to describe it.

I remember at the time of the IRA hunger strikers, Margaret Thatcher telling a news conference here was no such thing as a political murder, certainly in the Northern Ireland context. “A crime, is a crime is a crime,” she said

Unfortunately, in later years, this principle was not always adhered to.

Chris Moncrieff is a former poltical editor of the Press Association.