Caroline Lucas: Vince Cable could make you think eating babies was ok

It’s fair to say that this is not a headline I ever thought I’d be writing, but there you go.

The Guardian decided that it might be a good idea to take ten politicians and send them on a “blind date” with someone from a different party. They didn’t exactly push the boat out with this. The MPs met in the cafe in Portcullis House which is ok, but I prefer the public one off Westminster Hall. It’s always a joy to see what food combinations they come up with. They had an Earl Grey cheesecake one time I was there, which was a bit lacking in flavour, if I’m honest.

Probably the closest match politically was between our Vince Cable and Green MP Caroline Lucas. Afterwards, each MP had to say what they thought of the other. Caroline was generally very positive about Vince but made a bit of a strange comment:

My overriding feeling about Vince is that he’s so reasonable and so plausible that he could make eating babies sound an entirely rational thing to do.

The only thing is that Vince is generally right about stuff. If she thought that what he was saying about things like tuition fees and austerity was rational, it’s because it was. I was a bit miffed on Vince’s behalf by the baby-eating comment. She could have chosen a better analogy.

It’s interesting that they chose almost exactly the same words to describe what they agreed on: “Quite a lot around the green agenda.” Caroline was surprised that Vince thought the scene in the Rose Garden gave out the wrong message. If she’d been reading her Guardian properly, she might not have been.

The other bit of Lib Dem interest was between Danny Alexander and Labour MP Stella Creasy who consistently does well in the Lib Dem Voice Favourite Labour MP award.

The big surprise about that was Danny describing her as a Socialist. Who knew there were any left in the Labour party, especially who backed David Miliband in 2010.

What did Stella think of Danny?

He’s very tall. He seems a very nice, thoughtful person.

I was interested in what she told him about an encounter with a Liberal Democrat while working on her payday loans campaign. I can understand her irritation:

She tells Alexander she felt patronised by the Lib Dems while working on that campaign. “I remember going to see one of your colleagues about it, and he metaphorically gave me a pat on the back: ‘Well done, you’ve found an issue, are you going to put out a press release in your local paper? That’s nice!’ And I’m like, ‘No, I want to change this.’”

She gave him 7/10 “for the banter.” He gave her 10/10.

It was interesting to see how they tackled the “Why should people vote for him/her?” question. Danny and Stella mutually did the “committed to their local community line. Vince was very careful not to say anything that sounded like an endorsement.

I haven’t got round to the Natalie Bennett/Jacob Rees-Mogg encounter yet. That should be a laugh..

It’s an interesting idea, but you have to wonder why they had to pick the “Blind Date” theme and only have male/female pairings. This is the 21st century you know.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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14 Comments

  • Vince is a real asset to the party.

    Its a shame he didn’t get to be Chancellor of the Exchequer.

  • I agree that ‘blind date’ is a little trite, but I think the male/female pairing is interesting as it hopefully allowed a few MPs to challenge their assumptions, such as hearing about the sad news that Stella was treated so poorly by members of our party.

  • Though, I do admit that Caroline’s line was just woeful, and dread to think what would have been said had it been Vince who made the same comment about her.

  • Steve Comer 5th Apr '15 - 1:53am

    David: I was told by usually reliable sources back in 2010 that there WAS indeed an attempt to get Vince into no 11 during the Coalition negotiations. Osborne wasn’t the obstacle, he’d have been Home or Foreign Secretary, the problem was the strong lobbying from vested interests that “Vince was not trusted in the City.”
    Given that Vince had criticised irresponsible lending, and the handling of the banking crisis that is perhaps not surprising, indeed if that was the reason Vince never became Chancellor I think its a compliment!

  • Alex Sabine 5th Apr '15 - 1:54am

    Sounds like a fun exercise. I never thought I’d say this, but actually I think Caroline Lucas is right: she has put her finger on a big part of Vince’s “secret”. He nearly always comes across as measured and reasonable, even when he is playing to the populist gallery. My theory is that there are two Vince Cables: the sober academic economist who writes dry, economically liberal pamphlets (like his chapter in the Orange Book and his 2009 Reform paper); and the crafty politician who combines a visceral distaste for the Tory enemy with an innate decency that makes him likeable to many non-partisan Tories as well as lefties. He was at it again on Any Questions yesterday, ever so gently demolishing Angela Eagle’s arguments about zero-hours contracts while pointing out the practical steps he has taken in government.

    I must check out the Bennett/Rees-Mogg pas de deux

  • Agree that Vince has generally been plus for party,however Liberal Democrats didn’t get best deal in Government whereas in other countries either Chancellor or Foreign Secretary in Junior partner’s grasp. Whist don’t agree with critics that Lib Dems rolled over could’ve been better for us. Nick performed reasonably well in debate and know format wasn’t ideal but could’ve made more sportive case for Liberal Democrats. Main gripe was he didn’t quote IFS statistics when challenging Nicola Sturgeon. However at least one poll has shown slight boost.

  • Stella Creasy is not remotely socialist – she is 100% New Labour and this is why she has not been promoted. Either she will come around to the Miliband philosophy, assuming anyone can work out what that is, or more likely, Labour will swing back onto a Blairite arc.

  • Peter Andrews 5th Apr '15 - 9:31am

    I think Creasy is more like a Lib Dem who is in the wrong party than a Socialist. She even espouses Community Politics for goodness sake.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 5th Apr '15 - 9:58am

    Any party who had Vince in it should think about using his abilities fully. Just think how the country would have progressed with Vince in Number 11. Instead, the main problem created by the Coalition negotiations was NC somehow being sucked into the DPM role where he had everything to lose – no Leader’s voice for our party, bowing to old-fashioned Cabinet secrecy, and dumped on by a shifty PM. So many missed chances and another political leader this country never had in the best position to lead.

  • Creasy has a deep tribal loathing of Lib Dems, which you can detect in lots of her writing. She is not “in the wrong party.”

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Apr '15 - 11:23am


    Probably the closest match politically was between our Vince Cable and Green MP Caroline Lucas. Afterwards, each MP had to say what they thought of the other. Caroline was generally very positive about Vince

    I felt that what was most striking about this one was the way Vince was generally very positive about Caroline, but it was not reciprocated. I don’t have the article to hand, so what I write below is how I remember it coming across to me.

    Vince had almost nothing negative to say about Caroline, said he felt they were on similar grounds politically, and that their differences came largely from the inevitable constraints that operating as the smaller party in a coalition gives, and obviously also the need to deal with things as they actually are. But he didn’t denounce Caroline as some sort of head-in-the-clouds idealist, and seemed very appreciative of her viewpoint.

    Caroline seemed not to have listened to that, and her comments were full of “nah nah nah nah nah” attacks, the usual supposition that Liberal Democrats are much more right-wing than they pretended to be before the 2010 general election, that the compromises they are making in the coalition are not compromises but what they really want. She just seemed to dismiss Vince as a right-winger very far from her own position.

    I got the impression that Vince had tried to explain the reality of working in a coalition, and of having to deal with the sort of real world balances that actual administrative politics is all about, but Caroline just wasn’t interested in listening. So, Vince came across as the pragmatic liberal, who appreciates and understands a wide variety of views, but underneath is motivated by the same sort of thing that motivate Caroline. Caroline came across as the political ideologue, who could not accept or understand any position except her own, and without much interest in the realities of how one actually gets things implemented.

    OK, however much it was put as a personal encounter by the Guardian, this was a public platform, so I guess Caroline felt she had to play the party game, seeing as how “nah nah nah nah nah” to the Liberal Democrats is a big vote winner for them right now. Still, as someone who is unhappy with the Liberal Democrats as they are now, and struggling to the point of wondering whether my vote will still go that way this year, the different attitudes expressed by those two did a lot to remind me why I’ve stuck with the Liberal Democrats even though the Green Party now seems closer to my longstanding political position.

    I’ve always found the Greens lacking in a sense of political reality, which is typified by their hand-waving approach to how they would actually pay for the things they say they want. I don’t like their dismissive attitudes towards anyone who is not with them, and the way they lump together all of us in the mainstream political parties as if we are all one thing and paint us all in terms of that part of mainstream politics which is furthest removed from them. I don’t like their illiberal refusal to listen to and understand the pragmatic lines that are needed in practice if one is actually to achieve something practical in real world politics. I don’t like the way they put emotion before logic. In all of this they are the mirror image of UKIP.

    Any Green Party person reading this would probably just dismiss my line here as a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal Democrat loyalist just pretending to have sympathies with the underlying message of the Green Party. Not true at all. I really have drifted from the Liberal Democrats to the point where I am not involved in any campaign activity for them in this general election. I have been hanging on as a Liberal Democrat member until this election is over, but I really do plan to reconsider after that – I don’t think I’ll be able to stay on if there’s another Conservative-LibDem coalition. So I really am listening to voices from all sides to decide where I’ll go. Caroline’s words here were helpful to me, pushing me away from considering the Green Party as a serious option.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Apr '15 - 11:27am

    Tim Oliver

    Rees-Mogg’s by far the more interesting character

    I’ve never found anything remotely interesting in Jacob Rees-Mogg. He seems to me to be the right-wing equivalent of the old Socialist Worker types, endlessly pushing out a tired old ideological line which he’s adopted and promotes in a very simplistic form with no ability to think about it or be self-critical or to reflect on how it actually works in the real world.

  • SIMON BANKS 6th Apr '15 - 2:05pm

    She could well have been thinking of Vince’s support for TTIP.

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