I suppose Vince's remarks were unwise, but that is easy to say. Personally, hardly a day goes by without me saying something seriously unwise. What they also seemed to me to be was overwhelmingly true.
We may not actually be at war with the Murdoch press, but if we are not at war with corporate privilege and monopoly power as Liberal Democrats, then we need to be. That is the abuse of power which now threatens our liberty, just as Murdoch tightening his grip on the UK media is a threat to our freedom of speech. The role of Liberals now is to launch the battle against monopoly, over our minds as well as our wallets. The affair of the taped interview this afternoon was indeed a battle lost in this undeclared war.
The Conservatives may be led kicking towards the same position. Labour will not; in fact they were the first to rush to Murdoch's defence, as usual, this afternoon. What I find fascinating is that, although this central issue was barely mentioned in the party's manifesto, it seems to loom increasingly large in the minds of Lib Dem ministers - Vince Cable included.
That is as it should be, because - although it has gone almost unmentioned for half a century - the historic role of Liberals is to fight monopoly. Today was a setback, but it did at least articulate that central truth, and not before time.
Sparks in the 1970s
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