Tag Archives: vince cable

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 …

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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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Cable backs right to strike and opposes strikes

Vince Cable speaking to mediaQuoted in the Independent

We believe that getting round the negotiating table is better than striking.

We do not believe unions should be striking and causing mass disruption when everyone has been affected by similar pay conditions.

This reflects the fact that a better deal for one group of public sector workers would be paid for out of taxes on other workers, that the strikes if successful would not win a better deal for working people in general, rather for some at the expense of others. There is …

photo by: bisgovuk
Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 78 Comments

5 things Nick Clegg could do next

Nick Clegg Q&A 8My last piece of advice to Nick Clegg was to stand down as Lib Dem leader. He didn’t, and it’s pretty clear now that Nick will lead us into the next general election.

Two problems remain, though, and we need to find ways of addressing them. First, morale in the party has dipped since the May elections. Secondly, support for the party has also dipped in the polls. Yes, Lib Dem MPs benefit from the incumbency effect but that only stretches so far – we also need to start winning the air war, or at the very least avoid being ignored. As it stands, what Nick says just isn’t getting a listening. However unfair, it’s a reality we need to deal with.

Here are five suggestions from me for ways in which Nick Clegg could help restore party morale and maybe get himself a hearing from the media and public…

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Vince Cable scraps exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts

Vince Cable, Business Secretary at the launch of the joint government and UK automotive industry's automotive strategyVince Cable has introduced a Bill which will ban zero hours contracts that prevent people from looking for other work. These “exclusivity” contracts are particularly unjust. It’s one thing to not offer work in a particular week. It’s quite another to prevent an employee doing another job to supplement their income.

He spoke about this and other things that he had done to encourage fairness in the workplace in this video including increasing the Minimum Wage, enforcing it and curbing high executive pay, which is also available

photo by: bisgovuk
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The Orange Book, 10 years on: 5 thoughts on its legacy

Orange_BookToday saw what its co-editor Paul Marshall called the belated launch party for The Orange Book – such was the controversy surrounding its publication 10 years ago that the original event was cancelled. I was only able to attend one of the sessions (on public service reform) so here are five more general observations on its legacy…

1) The Orange Book remains much misunderstood, sometimes deliberately by those who enjoy internal warring, more often by those who’ve not read it (whisper it, some sections are pretty turgid) but know its reputation and assume it’s a right-wing, Thatcherite manual for destroying this country’s social contract. As Paul Marshall re-affirmed today, the aim of The Orange Book was to show how socially liberal aims could best be achieved through economically liberal means, recognising that in the real world both markets and governments fail. Two of its leading contributors are currently the most popular Lib Dem ministers in government: Vince Cable and Steve Webb. That said, it was (for both Marshall and David Laws at any rate) also a very deliberate statement of intent in 2004 that the Lib Dems needed to do more than simply out-Labour Labour by proposing new money and extra staff in every area of public service and argue that was liberalism (which is largely what the party’s 2005 manifesto did).

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Lord Storey on Nick Clegg: Not popular, nice guy, principled. What do the headlines report? “Toxic”

Lord Storey photo by Keith EdkinsWhen I first heard that Nick Clegg  had been described by former Liverpool City Council leader Mike Storey as “toxic”, I expected to see some sort of angry denunciation. Actually, Mike Storey’s comments were much more considered and balanced. What he said was what every single Liberal Democrat knows, that if you speak to lots of voters, you know that Nick Clegg is not a popular person. He said “some might use the word toxic.” He then went on to add that he found that very …

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats’ principled decision gives civil servants continued workplace protection they need

PCS picketOne of the announcements at Nick Clegg’s press conference on Monday was his categorical rejection of Tory ministers’ attempts to abolish check-off across government.

What’s check-off? This isn’t a Michael Gove attempt to ban a celebrated Russian playwright, it’s a mundane administrative convenience which allows members of trade unions to pay their union subscription by getting their employer to deduct it from their wage packet and send it on for them.

Union members like check-off because it’s the easiest way to keep their subs up to date. Trade unions like it because …

photo by: secretlondon123
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The Chinese are coming!

Vince in ChongqingChinese Premier Li Keqiang left on Monday this week on a 5 day visit to Britain and Greece.  With him, according to the press, is a 200 strong business delegation, expected to sign up some £18 billion worth of deals.

Just over 2 weeks ago, I was part of Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable’s business delegation to China, taking in 5 cities in 6 days.  Vince was scheduled to be in Beijing to attend UK-China Joint Economic & Trade Committee (JETC) talks with his opposite number, Mr Gao HuCheng, the Minister of Commerce.

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++Breaking: Lord Oakeshott resigns from the Liberal Democrats

Matthew Oakeshott speaking at Lib Dem conference, Brighton 2007

The Guardian reports that Lord Oakeshott has dramatically resigned from the Liberal Democrats. Here is his resignation statement:

I am today taking leave of absence from the House of Lords and resigning as a member of the Liberal Democrats. I am sure the Party is heading for disaster if it keeps Nick Clegg; and I must not get in the way of the many brave Liberal Democrats fighting for change.

I leave, with a heavy heart, the party I helped to found with such high hopes

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Cable: “Lord Oakeshott’s actions are totally inexcusable”

Vince Cable - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsBusiness secretary Vince Cable has released the following statement in the last few moments:

Lord Oakeshott’s actions are totally inexcusable and unacceptable. I have made it very clear repeatedly that he does not speak or act for me.

Commissioning and publishing polls without the consent of the Member of Parliament, as in the case of Sheffield Hallam, is utterly reprehensible.

There are undoubtedly raw feelings in the wake of poor local and European election results. We need to respond in a measured way. Public speculation about the leadership is an unwelcome distraction and as I made absolutely clear yesterday there is no leadership issue as far as I’m concerned.

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Research on impact of change of leader on four key seats

Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and Vince Cable vote for the Make it Happen resolutionThe Guardian today leads with a sorry tale headlined: Clegg taking Lib Dems to wipeout.

An unnamed Lib Dem supporter has commissioned ICM to carry out research in four key Lib Dem constituencies, including Nick Clegg’s own seat, and the report has been leaked to the Guardian.

Voters were asked how they would vote in a General Election if the party were led by Nick Clegg, Vince Cable or Danny Alexander.

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++ Breaking.. Vince Cable: There is no leadership issue

Vince Cable speaking to mediaStatement from Vince Cable who’s away in China on Government business:

These were exceptionally disappointing results for the party. Many hard working Liberal Democrats, who gave this fight everything they had and then lost their seats, are feeling frustrated and disheartened and we all understand that.

Nick did a bold thing in standing up to the eurosceptic wave which has engulfed much of continental Europe. We are the only party to have taken that on and he personally deserves tremendous credit for that. There is no leadership issue. We

photo by: bisgovuk
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The two Orange Bookers who’ve won over the Lib Dem membership

Orange_BookIt’s 10 years since The Orange Book was published. Edited by David Laws and Paul Marshall it was widely regarded as an attempt by economic liberals within the Lib Dems to wrest back control of the party from social liberals.

Both Laws and Marshall would argue their attempt at ‘reclaiming liberalism’ (the book’s sub-title) was more about re-balancing liberalism as practised by the Lib Dems — that the party had grown intellectually lazy, happiest with simply saying ‘tax more, spend more’ as the answer to every public policy problem without thinking …

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When Vince Cable warns we should listen

Vince Cable - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsWhen Vince Cable issues a warning we should all pay heed.

According to the Guardian he was speaking last week at the Resolution Foundation and claimed that booming house prices are destabilising the economy. He said we should all be worried about what will happen when interest rates return to normal.

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Headline of the day: How exactly do you “bloke” a takeover?

You’ve got to love this headline from the Yorkshire Post:

Vince blokes takeover

In the article, Vince is reported as telling the Commons Business Committee that he and the government were prepared to intervene over Pfizer’s planned takeover of Astra Zeneca, emphasising how important it was to protect the research base in the UK.

He said:

Yes, we work as a team and my colleagues have made very clear that, like me, they want options kept open.

We recognise that we have to keep the options open both in terms of

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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. Over 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

vince or danny

Posted in LDV Members poll and News | Also tagged , and | 29 Comments

Vince Cable to crack down on “rogue” directors

License Some rights reserved by eyewashdesign: A. GoldenVince Cable has rogue directors in his sights, announcing plans to stop people who are convicted of commercial crime overseas from being directors of British companies.

The BBC reports:

The business secretary said dishonest directors could cause “huge” harm.

UK criminals can already be banned as directors, and Mr Cable wants the same for those committed overseas.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said the measures are due to be tabled in the Parliamentary session which ends in spring 2015.

They would mean “stronger deterrents”

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LibLink: Martin Horwood – Lib Dems clamping down on the arms trade

martin horwoodOver at the Lib Dems’ website, Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood has welcomed today’s announcement that Vince Cable has put out a call for evidence on a new register of arms brokers, introducing tougher regulations on the arms trade. Here’s an excerpt:

Arms brokers act as intermediaries in many arms deals by bringing together potential buyers and sellers in return for a cut of the transaction. Currently UK companies require a license before they can export military goods, but brokers are somewhat of an unknown entity. Under the proposals all brokers will

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Vince Cable in his own words on the sale of Royal Mail

Vincent CableThe publication of a report today by the National Audit Office criticising the “deep caution” of Vince Cable’s department in setting the sale price of shares in Royal Mail has, inevitably, been leapt on by opponents of the policy. Critics who would, of course, have been equally happy crowing if the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills had set the price too high causing the flotation flop.

Vince Cable went to the despatch box of the Commons today to defend his department’s actions, making headlines for unambiguously stating, “The last thing …

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged , and | 56 Comments

LibLink: Vince Cable: Smell the coffee, Boris. The Mansion Tax has slipped in already

Mansion Only - Some rights reserved by Gerg1967This story appears under the byline of a “Daily Mail Reporter” which is a bit odd, because I don’t think they’ve let any of them into the Cabinet yet, and certainly not any who oppose the Tories. The reference to “my Cabinet colleagues’ kind of gives the game away that it’s our Vince who has taken on Boris over the Mansion Tax. Now, there’s another debate I’d like to see alongside Nick vs Nigel. Vince vs Boris. One day, maybe..

Anyway,  Vince started by pointing out that action was taken in the Budget to tax corporate property buying:

One less publicised move was a crackdown on people using high-value property to make easy capital gains from property inflation and then dodge tax, hiding behind a corporate façade.

At a time when families are desperate for housing, thousands of luxury flats sit empty in tower blocks along the Thames. The Government is stopping this abuse by charging a penal rate of stamp duty and a charge on the property value – a mansion tax.

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Independent: “Lib Dems fall out over who should take on George Osborne in election debate”

Cable alexander clegg some rights reserved by liberal democratsStephen Tall’s article here yesterday – Without a shadow of a doubt: Vince Cable should be the Lib Dems’ Shadow Chancellor at the 2015 election – has been picked up by today’s Independent:

As the minority coalition partner, the Lib Dems do not have a shadow chancellor. Nick Clegg must choose between the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who represented the Lib Dems in the 2010 debate.

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LDVideo: Vince responds to the budget (and takes on Labour “hubris” in the process)

Business secretary Vince Cable was on his feet in the Commons on Thursday, providing his response to budget. His speech has already proved something of a hit, not least for his deft responses to point-scoring interventions by Labour MPs, including with the Voice’s Stephen Tall.

You can watch (and read) Vince in action below.

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Without a shadow of a doubt: Vince Cable should be the Lib Dems’ Shadow Chancellor at the 2015 election

Vincent CableOne of the quirks of being in coalition is the Lib Dems no longer have a shadow chancellor. But we shall need one in time for the 2015 general election – not least for the traditional televised ‘Ask the Chancellors’ debate.

There have been newspaper reports that there’s some jockeying for this position, with the Financial Times reporting that “Senior Lib Dems say the high-profile job is very likely to go to Danny Alexander, the Treasury chief secretary”.

Meanwhile, over at the New Statesman, Lib Dem blogger Richard Morris …

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