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.

A senior activist said it was a “no-brainer” that it should be Mr Cable, because Mr Alexander has worked too closely with George Osborne to argue against him effectively. Stephen Tall, editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, wrote in an online article published this weekend that Mr Cable is “by a long, long way, the best qualified candidate”.

However, one MP said there “wasn’t any way” that Mr Cable could take part as he has not held a Treasury brief for four years. A second said: “It has to be Danny. He is not too cosy with Osborne.”

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  • Tony Greaves 23rd Mar '14 - 1:24pm

    Yet again shabby journalism – reasonable open debate within a party is described as “falling out”. For the Indy this is disgraceful.


  • Clear Thinker 23rd Mar '14 - 1:52pm

    Why not find someone from the party who is under the age of 30 to do the job? This could have several advantages:

    > it avoids a lot of bad vibes that could be generated if there is a serious disagreement with Osborne by those who are now supposed to be cooperating with him in government
    > young people can be more flexible in the way they argue, and so have more chance of winning on merit, as well as on empathy
    > it can help attract the youth vote

    Why not give it a try?

  • Paul In Twickenham 23rd Mar '14 - 2:57pm

    Today’s Sunday Times opinion poll has Lab 37% Con 36% Ukip 13% LD 9%

    Big bounce for the Tories, zero bounce for the Lib Dems. Whoever(?) is currently the lead treasury spokesperson is utterly invisible. Why is that?

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Mar '14 - 7:32pm

    Just watched Danny on Andrew Marr. He was good, but would have been better with a bit less media discipline. I’m not saying speak before you think, but all this party line discipline stifles politics.

    Why is LDV being quiet about Danny’s performance? I don’t usually get cynical, but the editors have been banging on about Vince, posting videos of Common’s debates whilst nearly ignoring an Andrew Marr showing.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 23rd Mar '14 - 9:15pm

    Eddie, we’ve liblinked to Danny articles twice in the last week and I know that I frequently write about his media performances, so I don’t think it’s fair to say that we ignore him. As it happens, I’ve been away this weekend and I had already planned to cover Danny’s Marr appearance tomorrow. I half saw it this morning – he was wearing some very racy socks:-).

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Mar '14 - 9:31pm

    Thanks Caron. I knew I was risking a slap down for that comment, but it is best to have suspicion aired and then removed rather than not communicate.

  • Phil Rimmer 24th Mar '14 - 9:13am

    Danny Alexander up against George Osborne would appear to the public to be Tweedle Dumb vs. Tweedle Dumber. Whether people in the party like it or not, Danny Alexander is far too closely associated with Osborne’s policies and the majority of his media performances have, to my ears and eyes, been embarrassing. Alexander was even later than Clegg (with Cameron) in even bothering to try to put clear water between himself and Osborne.

    “It’s the economy stupid” applies to some degree in every General Election and, assuming we want to avoid melt-down, the party needs to quietly push Alexander to the back and Cable to the front. The Indy pushing this story makes this less likely and that makes me wonder who inside the party was feeding the media.

  • It may be that Danny Alexander is less close to Osborne that he commonly appears – looking and sounding as he did in 2010 when national survival may have been depending on solidarity at the treasury. By now he should be sounding more Libderal Democratic and less like His Master’s Voice. Meanwhile, Vince has my vote every time. he sounds utterly assured but not arrogant and has repeatedly sounded loyally critical of government.

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