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Clegg Poll: Vince Cable Must Address Claims
Less than 24 hours after he was brutally disowned by his old friend Vince Cable, Lord Oakeshott has retaliated by twisting the knife in Vince's back.
And he has left the Business Secretary with some serious questions to answer. No wonder he was so evasive when Mark Stone of Sky News pursued him in Beijing.
It was Cable, currently leading a trade mission to China, who was the first to declare publicly that it was Lord Oakeshott who commissioned the deadly ICM opinion poll and then leaked it to The Guardian.
In his statement from Beijing, Cable said: "Lord Oakeshott's actions are totally inexcusable and unacceptable."
The Business Secretary said he had made it "very clear repeatedly that he does not speak or act for me".
That may be true, but they are old and close friends, apparently going on skiing trips and watching Arsenal together at the Emirates, where Oakeshott is a season ticket holder. That's pretty chummy.
Then Cable said: "Commissioning and publishing polls without the consent of the Member of Parliament, as in the case of Sheffield Hallam, is utterly reprehensible."
And now we know why he used that phrase, because according to Lord Oakeshott he told Vince about the poll in Nick Clegg's constituency and three others leaked to The Guardian "several weeks ago".
And not only that, Lord Oakeshott reveals that he also commissioned a poll in Cable's Twickenham constituency.
In his blistering resignation statement, in which he also lashed out at Nick Clegg, he said he was "sorry I have so upset and embarrassed my old friend Vince Cable". Really?
And then he says: "Several months ago a close colleague, concerned about voting intentions in Twickenham, asked me if I would arrange and pay for a poll to show us Vince's current position and how best to get him re-elected.
"I was happy to help, and Vince amended and approved the questionnaire, but at his request I excluded a question on voting intentions with a change of leader ... "
He goes on: "That poll worried me so much that I commissioned four more in different types of constituency all over the country and added back the change of leadership question. The results were in the Guardian yesterday and on the ICM website.
"Several weeks ago, I told Vince the results of those four polls too."
So, there are three bombshell allegations there that Vince Cable needs to answer.
First, why did he not admit that he knew Oakeshott had done a poll in his own constituency?
Second, is it true that he was told "several weeks ago" about the other four polls, including the explosive one in Clegg's constituency?
And third, did he know more about Lord Oakeshott's attempted coup against Clegg - now botched, of course - than he's letting on?