LibLink: Stephen Tall – Vince Cable leading the Lib Dems? Is it time for Plan V?

Stephen Tall, co-editor of Lib Dem Voice, has been blogging away at Huffington Post.

Lots of politicians have 20:20 hindsight. Foresight, however, is generally in shorter supply, which explains why Vince Cable is being acclaimed once again, tipped at the age of 69 both as a potential successor to either the 40-something George Osborne as Chancellor and/or the 40-something Nick Clegg as Lib Dem leader. The ‘Septuagenarian Sage of Twickenham’ is enjoying a Second Coming-of-age. Age does not weary him, nor the years condemn. What’s his secret?

Principally, it’s Vince’s tendency to be validated by subsequent events. For years he was a lonely voice worrying away at the ever-increasing spiral of private debt while the rest of the political class blithely ignored his warnings… until The Storm hit the economy in 2007, and he was canonised for his prophesy.

Then his halo slipped.

So will he or won’t he? Stephen concludes:

On the balance of probabilities, I still think Leader Vince an unlikely outcome. But it cannot be ruled-out entirely. If it came to pass, it would be (among other things) a massive irony, for it is Nick Clegg’s breaking of the Lib Dems’ tuition fees pledge which remains – as Iraq was for Tony Blair – the issue that continues to define him for much of the public. Yet who was the architect of that policy U-turn? It’s that man Vince again.

You can read the full article here.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Keith Browning 28th Jul '12 - 10:14am

    Although it might seem a long time ago – at the launch of the 2010 Lib Dem campaign – it was all about Vince and some ‘unknown’ bloke called Clegg. The party battle-bus had both names and pics and before the first TV debate most of the media attention was on Vince.

    Politicians mature with age -and in my youth ‘young’ meant under 50 and the majority of ‘captains of industry’ were into their 60s when they took the reins of their national enterprise. My generation has been missed out, well nearly because Gordon Brown was probably the worst example of a child of the 60s – dour Presbyterian Scotsman and brought the rest of us into disrepute.

    Time for the 60 pluses to regain control and remove the ‘know nothing – loads a money’ 40 somethings, who drink Bolly for breakfast and dont know the cost of a pint of milk. Vince would be a good place to start.

  • We had a very competent and highly respected older man as leader not so long ago. That went so well…

  • @Al :

    “We had a very competent and highly respected older man as leader not so long ago. That went so well…”

    I respected him greatly. His competence, however, was always high in a very limited set of areas, in my opinion, and he was put in purely in order to make time for Nick Clegg. Shame nobody ever told him that. Both his plusses and his minuses had little to do with his age.

  • Bill le Breton 28th Jul '12 - 10:41am

    Wait a minute. The decision over Tuition Fees followed from the Coalition negotiations.

    Vince was not a member of that team and would not have had an input into that section of the negotiations. That decision would have preceded negotiations about cabinet posts and their holders.

    Cable was given a job by the PM and DPM and part of that was to come up with a solution following Browne. He did the best of a bad job.

    The facts are that as we entered the 2010 campaign (with Vince the most popular Lib Dem) the Leader’s tour was organized so that Cable would accompany Clegg for every step. (See press releases at the time.)

    After the Manchester debate, that decision was dropped and Cable was sent, metaphorically, into the wilderness BUT he was ‘given’ *minders* by the GE team – *markers* might have been a more accurate word to use.

    That was a shabby way to treat such a person and indicative of the approach of those behind Clegg.

    Cable seems to be to have been incredibly loyal and submissive throughout this process – doing the best he could with a bad hand.

    I guess he would not have been a fan of accelerated deficit reduction and certainly would have known the difference between the UK, a sovereign currency issuer and the likes of Greece confided to the German controlled Euro.

    It is more likely that he would have held to the manifesto commitment to a fiscal consolidation that subsequent events have proved would have been wiser.

    Al … a lot has changed and the value of experience and getting tough decision right is more valued now. This country needs the very best minds in the right positions now. And so does our party.

  • Nick Clegg is, I believe, the best leader we have ever had. While Cable is doing a good job at his present level he is obviously not fitted for the top level, he is too easy to trip up. Can you imagine Clegg falling for the newspaper “sting” that caught Cable ?

  • David from Ealing 28th Jul '12 - 1:58pm

    “Can you imagine Clegg falling for the newspaper “sting” that caught Cable ?” He has fallen for a number of ‘stings’ in the past.

  • The point is, sadly, that the press would rip poor Vince to shreds, just as they have with Nick. And, given his age at the next election of over 70, they would have plenty of ammo.

    We really don’t have anyone who can replace Nick at the moment.

  • Keith Browning 28th Jul '12 - 8:15pm

    70 is not old anymore – I thought the census stated there were 400,000 people over 90 – the baby boomers will soon push that number way over the million.

  • I suspect that Vince is more trusted among our past voters, which makes him potentially dangerous to Nick. Should the party continue to stumble, active members may see him as a competent despite his age, and as a compromise between a personable unknown like Farron and a more right wing current minister.

  • “We really don’t have anyone who can replace Nick at the moment.”

    As needs saying again and again, that’s exactly the false mindset which Labour had about Gordon Brown.

    It was wrong. Labour had at least four people with faults that weren’t as bad as Gordon’s and, truth to tell, an army of people further back in the pecking order who would have also been able to improve on Gordon’s performance.

    We’re in much the same position. Cable isn’t perfect, but he’s a lot better. Ditto Farron, ditto Charles, ditto even Ming, etcetera…

    If you disgaree – What precisely are Clegg’s unique strengths?

  • @Stephen Tall
    Precisely when did Vince’s halo slip?
    As I recall Vince had advised against the Tuition Fees pledge before the election. This could be because he recognised the difference between a paragraph in a Manifesto and a personal pledge to vote in a particular way if elected, a point which still appears lost to our leaderhip. As Bill points out he didn’t participate in the coalition negotiations which were overseen by Danny Alexanderwho brought only 5 years experience to the task.
    Sadly Nick Clegg has become an object of derision in the media and worse still for some within the Party.

  • RC28th Jul ’12 – 8:03pm…………..The point is, sadly, that the press would rip poor Vince to shreds, just as they have with Nick. And, given his age at the next election of over 70, they would have plenty of ammo. …………We really don’t have anyone who can replace Nick at the moment………..

    LDV has lots of posts about how the press are ‘ripping Nick to shreds’; so no change there.
    After 5 years of being led by ‘Youff’ (if things go on as they are) I reckon the electorate will be ‘crying out for experience’.
    As for, “We really don’t have anyone who can replace Nick at the moment”, then we’re in an even worse situation than I thought.

  • I don’t know if anyone has noticed but all three party leaders lack experience in Local Govermment. This is not the case in France where, graduates for one of the Grand Ecoles go off and run Towns, Departments etc before entering the National stage. But how can this compare with experience of political researcher & bag carrier until a safe seat comes along?

  • Vince, himself, ruled out the possibility of standing for the leadership, the only ones even playing with the idea are our opponents in the media… anything for a story. And the problems for Nick, by and large, emanate from those who rely on the same opponents in the media for their news. But 47%, that’s excellent, imagine we had 47% of the vote, we would be forming the next Govt..!
    Nick can stay as our Leader until a majority vote of no confidence by the parliamentary party, or by ‘requisition’ of 75 local parties for an election. That sounds to me like he is pretty safe, so we should stop carping and give him our support.
    What makes him a good Leader? – if you have to ask the question you need to meet him, talk to him, watch him with an audience… then you wouldn’t ask. If you have done all that and still think you could do a better job, you had better submit your papers for approval to be a PPC.

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