Anyone outline plans for a nationalisation of a private company would until recently have been laughed out of any debating society, and a politician demanding such action might have been expected to be regarded as a dinosaur of the Labour left representing some former mining area of the country. yet acting Lib Dem leader Vincent Cable is demanding such action at the moment and increasingly more and more people are accepting his arguments.
Okay, so it is an exceptional circumstance. Who would have thought that a major UK financial institution would suddenly suffer such crippling financial problems as those suffered recently by The Northern Rock ? But then who would have expected that a major political figure, as Vince Cable has quickly become, would have the sureness of feet and the economic arguments to make clear that nationalisation is , although not an option anyone would wish to take, the least worst option and probably the only way that tax payers will ever get their money back.
The fact that Labour so quickly dug a hole for themselves by claiming Vince Cable's plans did not make sense and were not an option they would consider makes the problem even worse for the government and the taxpayer. The chances are, if the Virgin Money deal falls through, which all the signs are that it might, that the government might never get back the vast proportion of the cash they are putting in to Northern Rock. if that is the case, you can forget about the Tories economic disasters when they wasted £3.4 billion of tax payers money on Black Wednesday. No, the government's current potential losses in Northern Rock are around £25 billion pounds. More than the UK's cost of the entire Gulf War and continuing presence in Iraq.
The government might not look so isolated were it not for the fact that the Tories, the architects of the undoing of the nationalising tendencies of past British governments are now too starting to come round to the opinion that nationalisation of The Northern Rock might be the least worst option.
Could the Conservatives have agreed with the Lib Dems on this if it had not been proposed by Vince Cable many weeks ago ? It is highly unlikely. After all, what would the newspapers have made of a Tory proposing nationalisation ? But in recent weeks, articles, experts and correspondents have all warmed to Vince Cable's ideas. What was once a slightly odd idea, is now the accepted wisdom.
Whilst nobody likes management buzzwords and phrases, Vince Cable has show that "thinking outside the box" can change minds, can win over the press and can soon become the accepted wisdom. Something any new Lib Dem leader should muse upon for some time.