Tag Archives: vince cable

The attacks on Tim Farron need to stop – Vince Cable should know better

Tim Farron Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterNot even a charming account of his Friday dance class as reported by Buzzfeed’s Emily Ashton can assuage my annoyance with Vince Cable this morning. I have to say that he is an unusual candidate for my ire. His work rate of good, decent, liberal stuff in this parliament from stopping the Tories allowing employers to hire and fire people at will to strengthening consumer rights, tackling payday lenders and bringing in shared parental leave has been excellent. His economic wisdom and willingness to call out the Tories on their silly immigration targets has been much appreciated, as has his honesty about the realities of being in coalition with the Tories.

But he’s been the target of enough critical press briefings over the past five years to be aware of how destructive they can be. The fact that he’s prepared to put his name to trashing Tim Farron’s reputation and prospects doesn’t make it that much better. Speaking about the interview in which Farron was reported as saying that he’d give 2/10 for our handling of some aspects of the coalition (which is so totally out of character for Tim that I doubt its accuracy), Vince said:

“It wasn’t at all helpful,” Cable says bluntly. “I mean, he’s a very good campaigning MP, but he’s never been in government and has never had to make difficult decisions and I think his credibility isn’t great. You know, he’s an entertaining speaker and has a bit of a fan club. But I suspect he would not be seen as a very credible leader, at least now. Maybe in five, 10 years’ time, things are different.”

Credible politicians must be more consensual than extreme if they want to get things done, Cable suggests. He says pointedly: “The closer we get to an election and the more uncertain it seems, the more people will want people who are seen to be competent and reliable.”

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Cable: No room for “pre-election bonanza” budget

The Guardian reports:

Vince Cable has warned that George Osborne has no room in next Wednesday’s budget for a substantial pre-election giveaway, but acknowledged that there was some headroom in the public finances for modest tax cuts or an increase in public spending.

The Liberal Democrat business secretary indicated the chancellor had a sum estimated at £5bn – that could be used to increase the personal allowance tax threshold or to row back from plans to cut public spending back to the level of the 1930s in the next parliament.

In an interview with the Guardian a few days before the last major financial event of the coalition government, Cable said: “This budget, I think there is a common agreement across the coalition, cannot be some kind of pre-election bonanza because that would completely undermine credibility.”

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Davey and Cable defend free speech at universities from Tory attack

Vince Cable Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterWe know that during the passage of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act, Liberal Democrat peers Sal Brinton and Margaret Sharp tried to amend the bill to strengthen the duty on universities to preserve freedom of speech. Senior Tories couldn’t see why that was so important, sadly.

The Observer reports that Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers, especially Vince Cable, disagree about the planned guidance to be issued to universities about what they can and can’t allow on campus.

In the Sunday

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Opinion: Tax more and spend less

Nick Clegg with 2010 manifesto at Glasgow 2014 by Liberal Democrats

The 2010 election was notable for the failure of the three main parties to spell out clearly how they would reduce the budget deficit.  No-one wanted to scare the voters away.

2015 is already proving different. Nick Clegg has announced that Liberal Democrats would increase taxes by at least £8 billion and bring in a further £6 billion by tackling tax avoidance. There would still be up to £16 billion cut from  expenditure, £12 billion from government departments and £4 billion from welfare. Whilst not exactly a return to Keynesian economics, this is nevertheless a huge step away from the Tory approach which seemed to have dominated coalition fiscal policy. The balance between expenditure cuts and tax increases under Tory plans for the next parliament would be 98:2 whereas we will be proposing 60:40.

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LibLink: Vince Cable – Why is Labour planning changes to tuition fees that benefit higher earning graduates before lower earners?

Writing on the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Vince Cable takes Labour to task on their developing plan to reduce the tuition fees cap to £6,000. He culminates with this question:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 191 Comments

Flags at half mast – the right way to mark the passing of an illiberal despot?

You can probably guess that my answer to this question is a resounding “No.” When I saw yesterday that Westminster Abbey of all places was flying the flag at half mast to mark the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, I was horrified. The vomit-inducing tone of the tributes portraying him as some sort of reformer added to my irritation. If he was a reformer, Brian from the Magic Roundabout is a world champion sprinter to rival Usain Bolt.

I guess what intensified my overall sense of injustice was the chorus of silence from Liberal Democrats. Surely at least one of our parliamentarians should have openly criticised such a ridiculous decision. The only honourable exceptions I can find are Meral Ece and Mike Thornton, both of whom have been retweeting human rights information about Saudi Arabia and wry observations about the reaction to Abdullah’s death:

Most annoying was that it fell to a TORY to heap the most condemnation on the flags decision:

It’s all so different from 2007 when Vince Cable as acting leader boycotted the State Visit of King Abdullah, saying:

Mr Cable added: “I think it’s quite wrong that as a country we should give the leader of Saudi Arabia this honour.”

He said that although Britain has a “business-like” relationship with the country, Britain would not dream of extending the same invitation to other controversial leaders like Libya’s Colonel Gadaffi..

He said he had also been critical of the Saudi regime’s treatment of Britons.

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Dr Cable, I presume…

I was a wee bit amused by this story from the Spectator about Vince Cable:

Word reaches Steerpike that a number of staff working with the Business Secretary, who has a PhD in Economics, have been advised to refer to him strictly as Dr Vince Cable in written correspondence.

‘We were a bit surprised that Vince Cable won’t do as that’s what we are used to but it apparently has to be Dr Vince,’ a mole whispers.

A Liberal Democrats source says that far from coming as a request from the business secretary himself it’s official guidance that in formal correspondence politicians are referred to by their full title.

The reason I’m amused, apart from the fact that this is obviously another of those “there must be an election coming on” stories, is that I’ve always found Vince to be one of the least pompous politicians I’ve ever met.

Posted in News | 14 Comments

Vince Cable writes… Osborne’s deep cuts are damaging and ideological

It is encouraging to be part of a Lib Dem chorus from across the party denouncing Osborne’s damaging, ideologically inspired, proposals for further deep cuts in spending on public services throughout the next Parliament.

Being in coalition means that we have to go out of our way to differentiate ourselves clearly from the Tories on the central issue of economic policy. The Tories want to create an election narrative of Tory competence versus Labour incompetence (with the LibDems portrayed either as marginal to the story or cheering the Tories on). Next week’s parliamentary debate on a fiscal charter makes the issue of differentiation particularly topical.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 34 Comments

Vince Cable and Danny Alexander to be confirmed as Election Spokesmen for Cabinet jobs they have been doing for the last five years

 

Exclusive, Vince Cable will lose his economy job with the Lib Dems tomorrow screams the Spectator headline. In fact, this is the second biggest surprise since the sun last rose in the East. The first biggest surprise, by the way, was that Alex Salmond would stand in Gordon where he faces defeat by Lib Dem Christine Jardine in May.

Anyway, back to the story which is about the party announcing its spokespeople for the General Election. It is hardly a surprise that Vince and Danny have been named as covering the roles they have been doing for the last five years. Doesn’t sound quite so scandalous that way, does it? Some might say that’s a sensible choice and would be more of a story if it weren’t that way round.

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Vince Cable must be doing something right.

 

He’s been getting up the noses of some Tories. Apparently he’s their “Yellow B**tard of the Year” over at Conservative Home.

It’s pretty overwhelming: Vince Cable has dominated the stakes this year to be voted the Yellow B**tard of the Year, with a stonking 56 per cent of the vote. That’s a staggering rise on last year, when he seized the crown from Nick Clegg with 31 per cent.

The Lib Dem leader may be disappointed to learn that his share of the vote among Conservative party members fell to a mere 18 per cent. Meanwhile, Norman Baker’s flounce out and denunciation of the Tories only secured him 14 per cent of your votes.

Tim Farron (9 per cent) and Simon Hughes (a meagre 3.5 per cent) brought up the rear, and both will no doubt be hoping that 2015 offers them a greater opportunity to be a thorn in the Conservatives’ collective side.

They even did a bar chart:

Con Home Yellow Bastard Bar Chart

It’s a one horse race.

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Vince’s Royal Mail privatisation: independent report concludes “the right decisions were made”

An independent report by Lord Myners published today has concluded Vince Cable and the Government made “the right decisions” during the process of selling off Royal Mail.

royal mail sell off

The BBC explains the background:

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Vince Cable on the Tories’ “extreme ideology”

As we reported yesterday,, on the Andrew Marr show Vince Cable said:

We are committed to financial discipline but we’re not veering off to the kind of extreme ideology that the Tories seem to want.

Here is a video clip:

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Vince speaks out against “devastating and ideologically driven” Tory spending cuts plan

Vince Cable Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterThe Tories have been “well behaved” over the past few years because the Liberal Democrats have kept them on a tight leash, apparently. So said Vince Cable on the Andrew Marr Show this morning. He said that we were now getting a glimpse of what they would be like without that leash, adding that the consequences of their spending decisions would be that there would be around half as much money to spend on Police, defence, local government and social care.

He highlighted the differences between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat approaches to the economy and what a vote for each would mean:

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Vince Cable marks 2 million apprenticeships in 4 years – how that story could be told a bit better

Over at the party website, there’s a piece today marking the fact that the coalition government or, let’s not kid ourselves, Vince Cable, has created 2 million apprenticeships.

To mark the occasion, Vince met the two millionth apprentice, Paige McConville in Oxford. Paige, aged 16, started her Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering Manufacture with high-tech engineering firm FMB Oxford in August.

Paige took Vince on a tour around FMB Oxford, explaining how her apprenticeship with the firm is giving her the skills she needs to begin her career as an engineer.

All young people should have the opportunity to get on in life, and apprenticeships are a great way to achieve that. That’s why the Liberal Democrats have prioritised creating jobs and apprenticeships in this Government.

Commenting on the good news, Vince Cable said:

“Reaching the 2 millionth apprenticeship is testament to this Government’s commitment to apprenticeships. Paige and her employer are a shining example of how apprenticeships give young people the chance to start a career and give businesses the talent to grow.

“This isn’t just about numbers. From space engineering, to TV production, to legal services, apprenticeships are the ticket to a great job and a route employers trust to access the skills they need.

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Christmas is coming, draw tickets need to be sent back!

Vince Cable and Father ChristmasThe Liberal Democrat Christmas Draw is a much-loved and lucrative fund-raising institution for the party. From their organising nexus in Surrey, the Christmas Draw elves work hard all year to round up great prizes and send out ticket books by the sleigh load.

The top prize this year is a holiday voucher for £2000! There are 39 other wonderful prizes, such as half a case of champagne, which the elves will endeavour to get to winners before Christmas.

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

Vince would have put Myleene Klass in her place on the Mansion Tax

It’s not every day that you wake up and find that you’ve been quoted in the Daily Fail. The story starts late last night when Ed Miliband got into an argument with Myleene Klass over the Mansion Tax. You can see here on ITV Player how he got his backside handed to him on a plate as Myleene took him to task over his policy. Well, actually, it’s our policy. He nicked it. Maybe if he’d had his own policies, he might have been better at defending them.

Myleene was absolutely and utterly in the wrong as far as I’m concerned. If people are privileged enough to be able to afford a £2 million property, then they should be able to afford a relatively modest tax on that significant wealth.  Forgive me for not having much in the way of sympathy for those rich folk who complain about having to find an extra couple of grand a year. The poor have already been squeezed more than they should have been, by successive governments, including the one of which Ed was a member. If we’re going to be a fairer society, then the rich have to pay their share. It’s a total no brainer. It should absolutely be a no-brainer for the leader of a party which claims to represent the workers of the country.

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Opinion: There is a reason banks aren’t lending enough to small businesses – the regulator is to blame

Lloyds Bank, Leighton Buzzard - Some rights reserved by dlanor smadaSince the banks were ‘bailed out’ with taxpayers money, a regular refrain from across the political divide has been that the banks are doing decisive harm to the country by refusing to lend to small businesses.

If this refrain were accurate, banks would be denying capital to the businesses that create the jobs to engender a sustainable recovery, instead choosing to deploy the capital in complicated financial instruments that create little value, or pumping up housing markets, or in paying enormous bonuses to bank employees.

This latter is an argument that Vince Cable in particular was vocal in espousing, and as soon as the real state of the bonus culture, now much more shares based than cash based, becomes apparent, he will doubtless claim the credit for that.

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LibLink: Vince Cable on why we need the EU and immigrants

Vince Cable Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul WalterWriting in the Mail to coincide with Remembrance Sunday, Vince Cable made a heartfelt plea for tolerance of a united Europe and immigration, citing personal experience:

I am astounded when people say they have never been allowed to talk about immigration and that politicians ignore it. I remember it differently: a continued, sometimes angry, political debate going back to the 1950s. There was not an immigration issue as such. Until the late 1990s, net immigration was negative. More people left than arrived. But those leaving were white and most arriving were black or Asian.

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The Independent View: Ministry of Justice costs reforms undermine Vince Cable’s aim of tackling rogue directors

Statue of Justice - The Old BaileyA key message the Business Secretary Vince Cable has been keen to stress during his time in government is the need to tackle rogue directors: he’s announced plans to produce “stronger deterrents” and “more robust sanctions” to quash ‘dodgy directors’. Dr Cable’s – and insolvency minister Jo Swinson’s – policies on protecting creditors from rogue directors are certainly worth developing, but they are at risk of being undermined by policies being put forward by the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry of Justice has been seeking to tackle the costs of litigation, but its reforms will end up having a big impact on the insolvency profession’s ability to combat rogue directors and will have disastrous and costly consequences for small business creditors and the taxpayer.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Conference Speeches: Vince Cable: Liberal Democrats have brought compassion, common sense and competence to Government

Continuing our series of Conference speeches, today it’s the turn of Vince Cable. He announced an increase in pay for apprentices, talked about the benefits of migration and spelled out the difference between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. He talked about what the Liberal Democrats have brought to the Government and exhorted us to be proud about it.

You can watch here, and the text is below:

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Danny Alexander, not Vince Cable, designated Lib Dem shadow chancellor (oh, and no Lib Dem reshuffle)

speech danny alexander 6The Guardian’s Nick Watt reports today the long-trailed announcement that Danny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury, will take on the role of the party’s shadow chancellor at the 2015 election:

Nick Clegg has decided that Alexander, his closest ally in the cabinet, will be the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman during the campaign and will face George Osborne and Ed Balls in any television debates on the economy. … The Lib Dems insisted that the election roles for Alexander and Cable were consistent with their cabinet roles. A Lib Dem spokesman said: “We are enormously fortunate to have two talented and well-known ministers on economic matters that are recognised and respected by the public. By the next election Danny Alexander and Vince Cable will have both served for five years as chief secretary and business secretary respectively, so they know their areas inside out. It therefore makes complete sense that they should continue in those roles during the election.”

I’ve made no secret of my view on this: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Vince Cable should have continued in the role he held in 2010 as the party’s shadow chancellor. He is, quite simply, head and shoulders above any of his colleagues when it comes not only to understanding the British economy, but, just as crucially, explaining it in a way that is both credible and distinct from the Tories.

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Who should be the Lib Dem shadow chancellor in 2015 – Vince or Danny? Here’s what Lib Dem members think…

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

ldv vince danny

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Zero hours contracts – closing the loopholes

Vince Cable at Social Liberal Forum conference 19th July 2014 - photo by Paul WalterYesterday was a public holiday (except in Scotland, where they have more important things to think about), but it seems the party never takes a holiday.  It chose a wet and windy Bank Holiday Monday to announce that Vince Cable was crowd-sourcing loopholes in zero hours contracts. He is specifically concerned about those that require an employee to work exclusively for the one employer, even though no work is guaranteed.

Vince is launching a consultation and inviting employers, unions …

Posted in News | Also tagged | 13 Comments

Opinion: The UK’s takeover laws and short-termism

London Stock Exchange photo by Jam_90s

In the rest of the world hostile takeovers are uncommon or even unknown. Britain is alone in its belief in the benefit of hostile takeovers, a belief which is not supported by the evidence of its large current account and fiscal deficits.

Vince Cable on 13th July wrote on this website that changes are needed to Britain’s takeover laws.  However, the problem is that Britain, unlike for instance Germany and the USA, doesn’t really have any takeover laws.

photo by:
Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

Why Lib Dems shouldn’t keep schtum about tuition fees

tuition fees vote“University tuition fee rise has not deterred poorer students from applying”. That was the headline in The Guardian this week reporting new analysis by the Independent Commission on Fees chaired by Will Hutton:

The raising of tuition fees to £9,000 has not put off students from disadvantaged backgrounds from applying to university – although the gap in applications between those from wealthy and poor backgrounds remains wide, according to new analysis. …

The commission found that university application rates for 18-year-olds in England have continued to recover from their post-rise lows, with application rates for 2014 entry – including students who will receive their A-level results on Thursday – almost two percentage points higher than in 2010.

While students who are not eligible for free school meals – available for pupils from households earning less than £16,000 – remain more than twice as likely to go to university, the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students has narrowed from 30.5% in 2010 to 29.8% in 2013.

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Vince to quit? The party’s “senior sources” have been out and about stirring again…

It’s not even six months since my co-editor Caron Lindsay urged fellow Lib Dems to make nice and drop the internal briefing against colleagues. This followed a spate of whisperings against Vince Cable and Tim Farron among others. The voices off against Vince even prompted Nick to start an internal inquiry, though, as Jonathan Calder observed here, nothing more was heard of it.

Today, though, the Mail on Sunday reports:

Allies of Vince Cable reacted furiously last night over a Liberal Democrat ‘whispering campaign’ suggesting that he is on the brink of walking out of the Coalition. The Mail on Sunday has been told by two well-placed sources within the party that the 71-year-old Business Secretary is considering leaving the Cabinet immediately after the party’s autumn conference.

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Opinion: Pressing Clegg on an arms embargo to Israel

In the wake of Baroness Warsi’s resignation Nick Clegg has reportedly said that he will be pushing for an embargo on arms sales to Israel. I hope this actually happens rather than what I suspect will more likely be a more diluted ‘review’. Without a robust response, and without outside pressure being put on it, it’s likely that Israel will continue to act disproportionately in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza. If the government goes for a review, then it will have no more effect than a modest ticking off.

Doubtless there will be Liberal Democrats who will apportion blame jointly to both sides. They will criticise an embargo and claim that Israel has the right to defend itself from the missiles being fired from the territory. They will no doubt claim that civilian deaths is an unfortunate side effect associated with that action.

On the Palestinian side they will condemn Hamas for using civilians as human shields, by firing missiles next to schools, hospitals and residences. They will demand that Hamas stop the rocket fire and, along with the rest of the Palestinian population, adopt a policy of non-violence instead. The assumption is that being ‘reasonable’ will encourage Israel to act similarly.

Let’s put this into context then.

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Social Liberal Forum Conference – a belated report of an enriching day

Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 closing panel Photo by Paul WalterThis time last week, I had just arrived at a very crowded Euston Station in London for the Social Liberal Forum’s Annual Conference. It was more than worth the 800 mile round trip, even if  I’ve been ill ever since.

Our own Mary Reid had a major hand in the organisation of the event, which was attended by over 200 people. She did a fantastic job. Everything ran smoothly and the food and drink on offer all day was …

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SLF Conference 2014 – Governing as Liberal Democrats

Social Liberal ForumThe Social Liberal Forum have organised their next conference to take place in London on this Saturday  19th July. You can register via the website. We have an excellent line up of speakers and all Liberal Democrats of various shades of opinion are very welcome to attend, and for that matter anyone outside the party who is interested in the Liberal Democrats.

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Dear Daily Telegraph, Enough already. It’s actually okay for MPs to claim 11p for a ruler.

The_Daily_TelegraphSo the Telegraph is back to its old tricks on expenses. Five years ago, the paper uncovered some serious abuses by MPs at the taxpayers’ expense – along the way, the paper was also (as I wrote at the time) “guilty of flaky fact-checking, unfair distortions and disgraceful smears”.

Yesterday the paper attempted, rather desperately, to re-live past glories by running the story, ‘MPs’ expenses: Ken Clarke bills taxpayer for 11p ruler’. It wasn’t just Ken who attracted the Telegraph’s ire though: ‘Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, was found to …

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