One of the more reliable indicators of whether the Liberal Democrats in Government are doing well is when the character who hides behind "Vote Clegg, Get Clegg" on Facebook expresses his concern about the state of the world. For much of the last year, the postings have resembled a performing seal on its hind legs, waiting for Nicholas to opine, and recently he has been deeply sceptical about Dr Cable.
It's difficult to remember, before the pre-pubescent, half-witted, third-rate university lobby got stuck into him, that Vince produced the clearest analysis of the UK banking and financial crisis, and was being hailed by all and sundry as some kind of saviour. In our binary world this is all forgotten as he became the front-man for Bone-Dome Willetts and his attempt to smear the Liberals with the incoherent, self-seeking garbage that is Tory higher education policy.
Cable's recent indications that, firstly, all is not well in Cabinet (surprise, surprise) and, secondly, that AV might help keep the Tories out in future, are hardly ground-breaking analysis or liable to send the press scurrying to put forward the idea that the sky is about to fall in. If he's being set up to be ousted in a reshuffle then that reopens the ball game entirely, but if not it's all part of the reality of Coalitions.
The more sinister assessment is that the Orange Book brigade have it in for Dr Cable, on the basis that he is too much antipathetic to the neo-liberal economic agenda. If the party is briefing against him, this is very short-sighted, as despite everything he remains the figure of most consequence and is potentially a major rallying-point should the situation unravel in the next few months. Clegg's cheer-leaders are presumably amongst those who thought Campbell was too old to lead. It would be ironic if experience and the benefit of age triumph over the early-middle-aged, politically-identikit world that Clegg, Cameron and Miliband inhabit.