Meet Vince Cable

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The lovely digital team at HQ have interviewed Vince Cable.

He spent his childhood immersed in chocolate, it seems.

I grew up in York, which was then very much an industrial city. Its factories supplied the country’s railway carriages and fed its appetite for sweets. I grew up breathing the all-pervasive smell of sugar, cocoa and vanilla.

My first home was a small terraced house close to the Terry’s chocolate factory. My father Len was a craftsman at Rowntree’s chocolate factory whilst my mother Edith packed chocolates for rival firm Terry’s.

I arrived at the University in York at about the same time as Vince left for university and career, and I have fond memories of Tuesdays, which was chocolate making day at Rowntrees. Walking through the town was like being bathed in chocolate.

After Cambridge he ended up in Glasgow where he became a Labour councillor. He was one of the first Labour members to join the SDP.

Eventually he moved to Twickenham, where he discovered the story of Alan Turing.

Although I never met him, one former constituent has a very special influence on me is Alan Turing, who lived in Hampton for a short while and worked at the National Physics Laboratory in Teddington.

It is hard to overestimate his immense role in the development of modern computing, not to mention helping to shorten the Second World War through his work (alongside his colleagues) at Bletchley Park in breaking the Enigma Code.

Shamefully he was driven to commit suicide at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in this country. For more information about Alan Turing do take a look at an article I wrote about him on Lib Dem Voice.

Aha – a link to Lib Dem Voice – thank you! And a shout out for Turing who is a hero of mine as well.

And on the inevitable question about the Coalition he says:

Some very hard decisions had to be made and I think it is foolish to pretend no mistakes were made.

However looking at the utter chaos we now have with this Government I think it is becoming increasingly clear that it was a far better Government than we have now, or indeed what we faced under many other Governments in the past. I think history will judge the coalition favourably.

You’ll have to read the whole interview for his views on Ed Balls (as a ballroom dancer) and whether his novel will win the Bad Sex Award.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames and is a member of Federal Conference Committee.

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20 Comments

  • Vince was one of the more thoughtful members of the coalition government. Though as Business secretary he did allow the government to introduce employment tribunal fees. This did price vulnerable workers out of justice and was not a progressive step.

  • David Evans 3rd Aug '17 - 8:56pm

    I really think that Vince has to come up with something more convincing than ” … history will judge the coalition favourably.” If we are to survive and thrive, we need much more than that to say about it.

    The problem is that history will only look at events of 2010 and the economy. It will not consider It will not consider the disaster for future generations of the loss of so many Lib Dem MPs, MSPs, MEPs, AMs and councillors, no longer there to fight for the future of liberal democracy, their communities or their country.

    It won’t look at the steady erosion of freedoms so hard won, and Acts and decisions subsequently undermined, repealed or just not effectively enforced because there were no longer sufficient Liberal Democrats in positions of power to defend them.

    It may just consider what if the Lib Dems had saved themselves in sufficient numbers to lead a campaign to defeat David Cameron’s Brexit Referendum madness.

    if not ” … history will judge the coalition favourably,” will just be a comforting memory for those who don’t want to face up to the fact that they were there when fifty years of hard work building up our party to give our MPs their big chance to show the country what Lib Dems could do in government was finally squandered.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Aug '17 - 10:04pm

    Ed Balls was obviously frightened when Vince was introduced but was relieved when he was told it was only about dancing. He even took some positive/s out of Vince’s comments. This was on Peston-on-Sunday. Ed Balls has not gone professional.

  • When are we going to discuss and comment about some of the startling and to me amazing Labour succesful local by election results, this week Worthing for example. What can we do about it? Anything?

  • suzanne Fletcher 4th Aug '17 - 12:15pm

    Hope Vince’s interest in, and even love of, chocolate be translated into action on supporting the Fairtrade movement !

  • theakes,

    Labour are doing well of the back of a good election. Tories are holding their share as are the Lib Dems, UKIP are toast. We need to do more and become relevant, the Tories need Brexit to go well, Labour need to remain united and UKIP in their present form need a miracle. The first three parties to a degree have their future in their own hands, UKIP not so much.

  • Andrew McCaig 5th Aug '17 - 8:06am

    Frankie and theakes
    The landscape in local by-elections has changed dramatically since the General Election was called, which is why we are not getting stories about them on here.. This week there was nothing very winnable but last week there were two we definitely would have won in March, and in one of them Labour pushed us into 3rd (with a static vote) and nearly beat the Tories.

    We are back to where we were after 2015 and before the referendum, and the added problem is that Labour members are everywhere and have woken up to the idea that local campaigning and winning by-elections is fun…

  • paul barker 5th Aug '17 - 11:56am

    On the question of how well we are doing, since June 8th we have had 28 relevant local contests & 9 Opinion Polls. Its not much to go on but what seems to have happened is that our support went on falling after the Election, bottoming out in early July at below 6%. Since then we have risen to around 7%.
    The pattern in Local byelections is similar, right now we are somewhere between 2015 & 2016.

  • The run of by election successes we had in the 6 months or so up to the spring was amazing. Really stunning. But as things turned out it didn’t actually signify any kind of imminent breakthrough, either at the council elections or the GE. Things change. And things could change again.

  • Andrew,

    We live in volatile times, who knows what the next six months will bring.

  • Dave Orbison 5th Aug '17 - 9:04pm

    Theakes is right. Labour are doing well as per their first win in Worthing for 40years

    The complacency of some dismissing Labour’s rise and the LibDems bumping along the bottom is staggering. It simply underlines that the LibDems are seen as neither one thing or another. They have no identity nor do they offer a clear alternative that resonates with the electorate. On top of that they still claim the Coalition was a good thing.

  • @ Dave Orbison

    Dave, I often agree with your comments on the issues – but – if, as you say, the Lib Dems are such a basket case of no significance whatsoever, why do you keep bothering us dying embers here with your posts on LDV ?

    Surely a man of your calibre and sagacity has better and more important things do ?

  • Dave Orbison 5th Aug '17 - 10:53pm

    David Raw – why bother? Because I want there to be a viable third party. I think that would be healthier for democracy in the U.K. But I would want that party to be economically ‘left of centre’ and strongly social liberal most certainly not of the Orange-book brigade.

    I fear that the LibDems are themselves in danger of holding back any progress they may make by stubbornly refusing to accept the Coalition was a mistake and by rather complacently assuming voters will just come flooding back. I don’t think that will happen unless there is a decisive shift from the current equidistant policy between Tories and Labour.

    It’s just an opinion. I could be wrong. But isn’t that the purpose of debate? Or would LDV rather just have those of the one opinion that, irrespective of electoral results, all in the rose garden is lovely?

  • David,

    Yellow book is in hibernation, the Tories are running with hard with small state on the back of Brexit that means their is no room for Yellow Book, so by default I believe you will get what you want.

  • Vince talks a lot of sense:sometimes… and then comes out with ‘I think history will judge the coalition favourably’…It shouldn’t..

    What it did was almost destroy the LibDem party and enable the rise of UKIP as a major movement….
    The coalition saw the radical left of this party being told it had no place here….The right of the Tory support saw the coalition as ‘wishy-washy’ and moved towards UKIP…The Tory party, afraid of the perceived threat of UKIP put a date on their oft postponed promise of an EU referendum …The rest is history
    Post referendum, UKIP has gone…The Tories have swept up those of both wings…Labour have got the radicals and the LibDems have got???????

  • @ expats and Dave Orbison, “Labour have got the radicals and the Lib Dems have got???????”

    I’m afraid I must admit, as Paul Daniels used to say, ‘Not a lot’….

    And, yes, I agree with the vast majority of the electorate that the Coalition was a disaster politically and electorally for the Lib Dems. They made some terrible right wing decisions.

    I must also admit that for me it’s a case of the last chance saloon…………… Lib Dems really have to start addressing issues to do with inequality, social liberalism and to focus and identify with things to do with mainstream families on bread and butter issues. ‘We know better’ never works with the electorate.

  • Nick Collins 6th Aug '17 - 9:21am

    “Yellow book is in hibernation,”

    How many visitors to this site actually remember the Yellow Book? All we seem to hear about ,now, is the (expletive deleted to comply with LDV moderation policy) Orange Book.

  • Dave Orbison 6th Aug '17 - 9:37am

    David Raw – last chance saloon. I agree. My posts are not meant to ‘gloat’ at the present difficulties but to add weight to those who would want to keep Orange bookers in hibernation and focus on striking out in favour of bold radical policies.

    But just as I think there is some chance of this the Leader (both Tim Farron and Vince Cable) and others here come out with the usual defensive guff that the Coalition wasn’t all bad and we must attack Labour and Tories in equal measure on any issue.

    So back to your challenge David Raw, in my opinion the more that speak up in favour of the points I have made, the better.

  • David Raw 6th Aug ’17 – 8:49am………I must also admit that for me it’s a case of the last chance saloon…………… Lib Dems really have to start addressing issues to do with inequality, social liberalism and to focus and identify with things to do with mainstream families on bread and butter issues……

    To continue your analogy…”I’ve seen too many ‘last chance saloons ‘for this party and “I’ve left town”…
    To me, at least, the face of this party has become the nit pickers who are indistinguishable from their Tory counterparts… C of E, middle of the road, rather than evangelical; but that place in the political spectrum is already occupied and, perhaps, that why the party seems far to interested in criticising Labour than the Tory party….

    As for the coalition years David Evans, in post two, sums it up nicely….

    Vince sometimes talks sense but was too involved in bad decisions (e.g. Employment Tribunal Fees and Royal Mail) to give a dispassionate evaluation of those years…

  • Dave Orbison 6th Aug '17 - 12:09pm

    David Evans raises an interest point. So many LibDems argued that going into coalition was ‘in the national interest’.

    I strongly disagreed. But I am left wondering had the coalition not taken place and the LibDems remained as a significant opposition rather than the sideshow it has become, whether this would have had a more positive influence on the Brexit result.

    If so, what value the ‘national interest’ argument? But of course we will never know.

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