Only a few weeks ago Lord Young was booted out of office for telling the truth about the cuts, but at an inappropriate time. He was merely an advisor to the Cabinet.
Now we have Vince Cable, a member of the cabinet, telling people “in his constituency” (actually giggling Daily telegraph reporters) that he was at war with Rupert Murdoch, he could bring the coalition down and he might even employ the “nuclear option”. How irresponsible?
In my book, Communicating Strategy, I talk about “the aligned management team” and some of the issues that happen when that alignment is not sorted out in the board room. One thing that can happen is “malicious compliance” where the individual appears to comply behind closed doors but outside he/she briefs maliciously against the plans and collective responsibility.
This needs to be stamped on immediately. And stamped out symbolically, so it is clear that such action is completely unacceptable.
It also means that things need to be discussed more openly amongst the individuals concerned behind closed doors.
So what has happened? David Cameron has apparently made it clear that “Mr Cable’s comments were totally unacceptable and inappropriate.” He has had part of his portfolio removed and more than 70 Whitehall officials who work on media and telecom policy for the Business Department will be moved to work for Mr Hunt (Culture, Media and Spoonerisms) today.
In a separate statement, Mr Cable said: “I fully accept the decision of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. I deeply regret the comments I made and apologise for the embarrassment that I have caused the Government.” I bet he does! But only that he was found out. Deep down, when the language is as explicit as that used in the unprompted circumstances of the recording (He sounded as if he was trying to impress a few giggling embarrassed girls) you can bet that true feelings were leaking.
From a cabinet responsibility perspective I give him no more than a week. This is a test of both Cameron and Nick Clegg, just as it would be for any the leaders of any board or executive team.
Nick Clegg said, “Lets put this behind us”. I hope he is facing up to it and dealing with it robustly inside that closed room.
Executives have been sacked for less. Corporate responsibility.