By Tim Montgomerie
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At the end of last year Vince Cable rather embarrassed himself. Interviewed by an attractive young woman, posing as a constituent but actually an undercover Telegraph journalist, the Business Secretary became a little indiscreet. One of his indiscretions was to talk of his desire to declare war on Rupert Murdoch. Given Hackgate Mr Cable now feels vindicated… although some of us remain unimpressed that he didn't understand the sensitivity of the semi-judicial position he was fulfilling at the time.
His rehabilitation (at least in his own mind) comes at a sensitive time for the Coalition. Tomorrow we'll get the latest growth figures. They aren't going to be good. Osborne is going to come under enormous pressure to alter course on the deficit. No side of the political debate is happy with him. Ed Balls and Ed Miliband think (crazily) that the best way to survive a debt crisis is to increase debt further. A more serious critique comes from supply-side reformers like City AM's Allister Heath who warns that tax rises are throttling growth. As are the Coalition's green policies and additional regulatory measures.
Into this sensitive environment treads Cable. Yesterday he suggested Britain needed more quantitative easing. The FT (£) reports that he's ready to urge a tougher crackdown on the banks. His description of American Republicans as "right-wing nutters" suggests he is back to his combative worst. Last December Osborne could have hoped that Cable was a spent force. No longer. Cable is a man to watch in the next few days and weeks as the economic debate returns to centre stage.