Author Archives: Vince Cable

Vince Cable MP writes…Changing the Liberal Democrats

Politics is changing in the UK and around the world. Conventional wisdom and assumptions are being blown away by people powered movements from Trump to Trudeau, from Macron to Brexit. Old style political parties face a simple choice – change or be swept away.

The Liberal Democrats have a long and proud history of approaching these transformational moments head on — by localising power, fostering diversity and nurturing creativity. We fight for our fundamental values of liberty, equality and community. In short, we live by the very principles that successful movements are built upon.

Earlier this year, we set a new direction for our party, by passing a motion at conference to “Create a political and social movement which encourages people to take and use power in their own lives and communities at every level of society.”

It is time to make good on this directive — to transform our party into a wider liberal movement that will bring positive change to Britain.

The proposals I am putting forward today for consultation with all our members involve building up our supporter base, opening it up – at no charge – to people who subscribe to our values. Some already help with leaflet delivery and in other ways.  I would like to see the party offer them the right to vote in future leadership elections, as a way of making them a part of our movement. Of course, we will need robust measures against entryism, and I am confident we can find the right mechanisms.

I am also suggesting that we make it easier for new members to stand for election on a Liberal Democrat ticket by removing the delay before they can be selected.

Another idea is to stop excluding good leadership candidates who share our values just because they have not yet pursued a career in Parliament. Of course they would need to meet appropriate standards, and command sufficient support in the party to be nominated.  This would widen the pool of leadership talent open to us, and signal our intention to be an open and inclusive force.

None of this detracts from the central importance of our issues-based campaigning against Brexit and for the People’s Vote.  It is about building up our strength to fight these battles, and those which lie beyond.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 38 Comments

Vince Cable writes…We need to catch up with our European neighbours in fighting Cancer

Cancer is traumatising. It is universal, leaving no family untouched.

I saw this first-hand. Cancer took my first wife, Olympia, in 2001. To repeat what I wrote in my memoirs, that experience showed me that whatever may be said in criticism of the NHS, the capacity of the system to deliver high quality, sophisticated treatment to the acutely sick is so greatly appreciated by those who receive it.

Living with and caring for a cancer sufferer for 14 years led me to want to help others and to use my political position to do so. I campaigned subsequently for wider breast cancer screening, a screening programme for cervical cancer and the introduction of bowel cancer screening.

So many people work so hard to stop cancer: raising money with bake sales, running marathons, nagging our loved ones to eat better, drink less, stop smoking.

In the 2017/18 alone, there were donations of £192m to Cancer Research UK, a further £153m raised from events and charity shops.

But Cancer Research UK is marking the 70th anniversary of the NHS with a campaign to get the Government to commit to invest in training and employing more specialist staff to diagnose cancer early.

This is because, despite all we are doing, all the money we are raising, the UK is falling behind other European countries in the successful treatment of cancer. Olympia had diagnosis and  treatment that showed the NHS at its best. Others have been less fortunate – an IT glitch meant hundreds of thousands of women in England missed breast cancer screenings. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 7 Comments

Vince Cable writes: Lib Dems will be at the forefront of political realignment

It is a year today since I became party leader, and a great deal has happened since.

Thanks to the efforts of so many of our members and campaigners, we had the best set of local election results of the three main parties in England in councils gained and the best overall for us in fifteen years.  We have every reason to hope that next year will be better still – we are already preparing.

The by-election in Lewisham East was our best against Labour for a decade.  Local council contests each week continue to reinforce the positive message our surveys are giving us.

Whatever toxicity attached to the Lib Dem brand after the Coalition has substantially dissipated.  Large numbers will vote for us if they think we have a chance of winning and if there is an effective campaign

As well as winning elections, we are setting out big ideas to change the country.  A few weeks ago, I detailed an ambitious but realistic approach to house building, describing what could be achieved without the impediment of ideological prejudice.

I have also launched a series of initiatives to confront the issues thrown up by the new digital economy and deal with the ‘data giants’; a group is looking at how best to support lifelong learning for people whose future is potentially subject to the upheavals of technological change; another will soon look more broadly at the impact of new technologies like AI and how best to respond to them.

On the core economy, I have set out a revised approach to fiscal and monetary policy which builds on, but does not destroy, existing structures.  We have carried out serious work on land value taxation, which will come before Conference in the Autumn. And I have described how in practice we create a corporate structure which is best described as ‘responsible capitalism’.

On public services, Liberal Democrats continue to lead the argument about the mechanics for funding health and social care with the advice of leading figures in health policy. The Federal Policy Committee has recently set up a new health working group to take forward their work, and to continue our leadership role in mental health policy pioneered by Norman Lamb. Layla Moran, our education spokesperson, has published proposals to address the concerns of parents, teachers and schools, which we endorsed at conference.

The politics of Brexit is moving slowly but substantially in our direction.  Where our calls for a final say on the deal for the public were once derided, more and more people are now joining with us in that campaign.  A highlight of my year was addressing the 100,000 people amassed in Parliament Square for the People’s Vote march.  We remain the leading political force arguing that whatever the parliamentary wranglings over detail, the best course for Britain is to stop Brexit altogether.  Giving the people a choice at the end of this dismal negotiating process is the best way to obtain an exit from Brexit

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 22 Comments

“Time to reform NHS funding” – Vince Cable

13:00

Today I launched Health and Social Care: Delivering a Secure Funding Future, which offers some compelling answers on how to reform NHS funding. This report was initiated by my colleague, Norman Lamb, who is rightly recognised as one of the most important figures in modern British health policy.

Compiled for the Liberal Democrats by 10 health & social care specialists, including former chief executives of NHS England, the Royal College of Nursing and the Patients Association, the timing could not be more significant given the Conservatives postponed more than 50,000 operations just last month.

Drawing on their recommendations …

Posted in News | 16 Comments

Vince Cable writes: Why are Brexiteers so scared of the people?

Liberal Democrats are united on Europe. We strongly believe that Britain is better off as a full member of the European Union. I am proud of this stance, and continue to argue for an ‘exit from Brexit’. The European Union has been a project of huge economic and social success, fostering prosperity and maintaining peace on a continent historically ravaged by division and war. I want Britain to remain. The Liberal Democrats are the party of Remain.

Meanwhile, even the spectre of leaving is doing great damage. Parliament has been asked to confer huge new power on Government – far from ‘taking back control’ as the country was promised. Already our economy is being jeopardised by the huge devaluation in the pound, which is pushing up prices and leaving British companies vulnerable to takeovers. An exodus of highly skilled European workers puts public services at risk too.

As a party, we acknowledge the result of the 2016 referendum, which gave the Government a mandate to start negotiations to leave. Yet it becomes clearer by the day that we were absolutely right to argue the negotiations would never deliver the promises of the Leave campaign. When the true scale of that failure is known, the public must get a first referendum on the facts. I believe they will demand it. And there will be no deal on offer which is better than staying in the European Union.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 109 Comments

Vince Cable writes: What Brexit means

 

I appreciated the large response to my post-referendum blog on the 48 Movement.  The Bank Holiday Sunday press reminds us that this issue will very soon return with a vengeance as the politicians come back from their holidays.  The Brexit hardliners in the Tory party are already preparing their narrative of betrayal by Remainer ministers and sabotage by civil servants.

When I wrote my note there was agreement on many points, not least the negative impacts which still await us, but two things I said triggered a negative reaction.  One was my argument that the result was final and could not be wished away by legal subterfuge or attempts to reverse the vote.  I see that  Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest is arguing for a re-run through a second referendum and that position appeals to many in our own party.  There will be debate on this issue at Conference. Since, unlike Labour, we have nothing to prove on the EU issue I hope we can be more realistic.  The most recent polls show that almost all Brexit voters and half of Remainers accept the result however much we deplore it.  Shock, anger and remorse are very understandable but not if these harden into the conviction that the majority of voters are gullible fools.

The second point of controversy was my view that the free movement of EU labour should not be regarded as an inviolable principle, but is now politically unsustainable and of questionable merit when at the expense of non-EU migration.  There are better ways of being liberal on immigration: opposing the self-harming stupidity of the current ‘crack-down’ on overseas, non-EU, students to help Theresa May meet her absurd target; defending the position of EU nationals who are already resident here; promoting a less pusillanimous approach to refugees, as Tim Farron has been doing.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 41 Comments

Vince Cable writes…The birth of the 48 movement

For our party and its supporters in the country the last few years have brought one defeat after another:  local councils, devolved government, national government, AV referendum, now the EU referendum.  There is a limit to the number of times a boxer can climb back up off the floor.  What fortifies me is the adage that winners are losers who never give up.  And perhaps we should think bigger: not as a small party with an 8% core vote but the centre of gravity of a broad movement of 48% of voters who chose Remain.

The first step in responding to defeat has been to look for scapegoats: the people who led a poor and failing campaign.  Cameron has gone and (hopefully) Corbyn and Osborne are going.   But in truth the Remain campaign as a whole failed to grasp the strength of the opposing coalition: not just conservative pensioners who want the past back but the’ left behind ‘who have suffered declining living standards and public services, the Commonwealth voters who felt Europe was at their expense and many who felt this was the best way to give an unpopular and unrepresentative government a good kicking.

That is why we have to approach the result with some humility.  There is nothing to be gained by denial: crying foul. We wuz robbed, ref.  I see petitions demanding a re-run, legal challenges and appeals to parliament to ‘do something’.  Dream on.  Of course the Leave campaign was mendacious; of course the referendum shouldn’t have happened; of course parliament was negligent in not building in thresholds. But the public was clearly told by both sides that the result would be final. And there was a big turnout.  That is it..

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 132 Comments

Vince Cable writes…Where we can all agree on Syria

The political debate on Syria has produced a bewildering array of people proceeding from the same premises to opposite conclusions and from different premises to the same conclusions.   We have an ‘anti-war’ coalition which unites Nigel Farage, David Davis, Jeremy Corbyn, the SNP, the Greens and the Mail and the ‘pro-war’ camp includes the Tory government, a sizeable chunk of the parliamentary Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Financial Times and the Indy.

At recent party events I have attended there is disquiet and confusion.  I see that two thirds of Lib Dem Voice readers oppose the British air strikes. Veterans of Iraq war marches ask why we are not marching again to recapture one of the party’s finest hours.  I share some of the confusion no longer having the benefit of participating in discussions amongst parliamentary colleagues. I have had the benefit of Cabinet-level briefings, which led me to endorse air strikes 18 months ago; but much has changed since.

It would be useful to identify a series of propositions on which I believe most reasonable people, on either side of the debate, can agree.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 40 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 | Tagged and | 35 Comments

Vince Cable writes… Remembering Alan Turing

IMG_0923Today sees the general release of the film The Imitation Game, a dramatic portrayal of the life and work of Alan Turing.

By all accounts the film, with the leading role played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is set to be a great success. Oscars are already being talked about.

But why am I drawing attention to this specific film?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Vince Cable writes…Strengthening confidence in the UK’s takeover laws

London Stock Exchange photo by Jam_90sThe attempted but abortive Pfizer takeover bid for AstraZeneca has triggered a timely political debate in the UK about whether the safeguards in mergers and takeover legislation are adequate – especially when significant research and development assets are at stake.  It is now clear to me that some changes should be made.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

Vince Cable MP writes… My view on George Osborne’s employee ownership scheme

Last week at the Conservative Party conference the Chancellor announced a new equity ownership scheme. His proposed scheme, targeted at small companies, is entirely voluntary and cannot be forced upon employees. It would offer employees shares (from £2,000 to £50,000) in their business in exchange for certain employment rights. The shares are Capital Gains Tax free – which if the company grows extremely fast is a valuable offer.

The scheme has had a mixed reaction. However a few

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 76 Comments

Vince Cable’s speech to LibDem conference

You can watch Vince’s speech to the Lib Dem conference here…


(Available on the BBC website here.)

Or you can read the text in full here…

Posted in Conference | Tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

Vince Cable: Why the VAT rise had to happen

With annual borrowing of £160bn and a massive blank where Labour’s plans for deficit reduction should have been, this was always going to be a tough Budget – arguably the toughest since the 1980s. Some extraordinarily difficult decisions have been made to avoid an even worse crisis. Foremost amongst these was the decision to raise VAT from 17.5 to 20 percent.

Through the election campaign, all three prospective Chancellors were asked about VAT, and we all answered in exactly the same way: we have no plans to raise it, but we cannot rule it out. In fact, that was my position …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 141 Comments

Vince Cable on the Liberal Democrat Fairer Future Economic Recovery Plan

Gordon Brown’s response to the economic crisis has been too little, too late.

For years I warned him of the oncoming economic problems. Unsustainable levels of personal debt, mostly secured against the illusory ‘wealth’ of rising, vastly inflated property prices. An economy based so heavily on debt was never going to be in a fit state to deal with global shocks like the credit crunch.

And so it has proved. Gordon Brown is now facing the consequences of his years of inaction. The housing bubble has burst. Unemployment is rising fast. Tens of thousands of families are losing their homes.

With people struggling …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 30 Comments

Opinion: non-domiciles and tax

The Chancellor has performed yet another climb-down from his Pre-Budget tax proposals made in October last year, as a ‘clarification’ of proposals to tax non-domiciles was announced in order to correct previous ‘misunderstandings’.

Following fast on the heels of the Capital Gains Tax debacle, this most recent retreat makes the Government look thoroughly foolish. Once again it is painfully obvious that ministers hadn’t thought through the implications of their own policy plans.

The Liberal Democrats were the first party to highlight serious tax avoidance abuses by non-dom residents, and called for non-dom status to be limited to a specified number of years.  …

Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments

Vince Cable: we will force a referendum vote in Parliament

Tomorrow the Liberal Democrats will table an amendment to the Government’s parliamentary motion proposing the Queen’s Speech. Our amendment calls for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

This does not signal a change in our party’s attitude towards the Europe. We remain constructively pro-European, but we see this referendum as an opportunity to have a proper debate about the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

Over thirty five years as a member state, we have seen the EU widen both its membership and share sovereignty from Mrs Thatcher’s Single European Act through to a succession of …

Posted in News, Op-eds and Parliament | 32 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarNom de Plume 14th Nov - 3:23pm
    Correction: 'customs union'
  • User AvatarDenis Loretto 14th Nov - 3:23pm
    @ Anthony Watts I echo that also and it behoves all of us to pursue the "people's vote" option as the only practical way to...
  • User AvatarNom de Plume 14th Nov - 3:22pm
    It was always going to be a bad deal. A currency union is a bad deal, but I wish you would leave "vassal state" terminology...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 14th Nov - 2:54pm
    @David Raw Are you saying that the non UK wide parties are of no relevance to demands for a second referendum ? No! I clearly...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 14th Nov - 2:45pm
    Mark Pack has emailed an interesting survey of opinion on Brexit undertaken in October. It indicates that those who voted Leave still believe there will...
  • User AvatarSue Sutherland 14th Nov - 2:18pm
    Great article Joe Bourke but I disagree with one of your statements. I don’t see any evidence that common sense has to break out because...