In a move that represents a shift from last year's controversial tax raid on North Sea oil, the Business Secretary said the Government wanted to help the sector "re-energise" its supply chains, which include thousands of small businesses.
In a speech in London, Mr Cable said targeted Government support was needed to create a "different kind of economy" based on manufacturing and trade. Britain could not "just hope it happens naturally", he said. He and Charles Hendry, the Energy Minister, will chair meetings to "see how together we can support this important industry".
Well, Vince, one way of supporting "this important industry" might be not opportunistically taxing it whenever you fucking feel like it. But, then, what do I know, eh?
He insisted the plans were different to the "cack-handed interventionalism of the 1960s and 1970s" and denied that the Government was reverting to "picking winners" rather than trying to create a benign business environment.
Yes, of course it is completely different.
But he argued: "There is a case for being more explicit about the choices we are making and linking them to a clearly articulated economic strategy."
We are now two years into this Coalition government: one would have thought—especially given the current economic crisis—that, if they were going to form a "clearly articulated economic strategy", they would have done so before now.
But, as I say, what do I know?
With a nod to the previous Labour government, Mr Cable said Britain's car manufacturing industry had benefited from the "explicit choices" of government support.
We have a car industry? Who knew...?
Other industries to be
destroyedtargeted include aerospace, media, film and fashion.
What's that old Reagan saw about the most terrifying words in the English language?
Oh yes: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help".
Mr Cable said: "Revolutionary technologies are often too risky, or simply too complex or resource intensive, for an individual company to make the necessary investment.. for Government, there is a significant role here."
Well, yes: if any organisation is adept at pissing our money up a wall, the government is surely a prime candidate to walk away with that prize.
The mind boggles.
DISCLOSURE: I hold a pretty insignificant number of shares in various oil and gas exploration companies. Most dropped sharply on the 27th and 28th and we have seen increased volatility.
I'm not saying it's linked, but Cable made his speech on the 27th and the Telegraph article was published on the morning of the 28th. Just sayin', is all...