Tag Archives: vince cable

LibLink: Vince Cable on industrial strategy

Vince Cable has been writing at CommentCentral under the headline: Industrial strategy is vital to boosting growth. He bemoans the closure of blast furnaces in Port Talbot and Scunthorpe.

He says:

The closures seem to be a mockery of the optimistic story about a future based on green jobs since the closures are prompted by a wish to move the industry onto a less energy and carbon intensive (and more modest) footing, using electric arc furnaces to turn scrap back into steel. The government is putting in £1 billion to help finance the transition.

But critics point to a dearth of constructive ideas for the industry. Britain produces 10 million tonnes of scrap steel a year, less than a third of which is currently recycled (the rest being exported and recycled elsewhere), so why are there no plans to boost domestic production? Why are there no plans to use hydrogen as a reducing agent in updated blast furnaces making use of Britain’s resources of offshore wind to generate ‘green’ hydrogen through electrolysis? Where is the strategy?

He compares the UK with countries such Japan, China, Germany and Israel and praises their industrial strategy.

After a brief flurry of free market discipline, the Coalition was soon forced into reactive intervention to stop large factory closures. I decided to launch a comprehensive, sector based, industrial strategy. Conservative colleagues went along with it, some reluctantly. There was positive engagement from business – and trades unions – and in sectors like vehicles, aerospace, life sciences and creative industries. there were industry-wide strategies that were acted upon.

To my pleasant surprise, Theresa May kept and developed the industrial strategy, under Greg Clark. It couldn’t last. With Boris Johnson came ‘f**k business’ and also pathological short-termism (though Dominic Cummings managed to get the DARPA ‘moon-shot’ project launched). Truss and her free-market fundamentalists like Rees Mogg and Kwarteng had no time for ‘industrial strategy’.

Sunak seems to be going down the same path. In contrast Labour is keen to give industrial policy a central position.

He concludes:

I like to claim that industrial strategy was one of the Lib Dems’ big but unsung achievements in the Coalition government. But industrial strategy depends on shared, cross-party ownership. In that spirit, I would like to see Jeremy Hunt using his Autumn Statement to give his support to industrial strategy as part of his programme for boosting growth.

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Vince Cable: The net zero consensus is over

How do you save the planet when we no longer agree on key measures to save the planet? These questions are posed by Vince Cable in his latest column for Comment Central. As Vince often does, he poses questions that some Liberal Democrats will find difficult, particularly in relation to North Sea Oil licences and relations with China.

Consensus between the parties is key to making long term plans to save the planet, he argues.

He sets out how far the Conservatives have fallen on climate change:

It was Margaret Thatcher who originally embraced the global warming issue and wider environmental stewardship and who demonstrated by championing the Montreal Protocol on the Ozone Layer the force of British leadership. David Cameron (initially) and Boris Johnson continued this tradition. The resigning Environment Minister, Zac Goldsmith, has told us, however, that this Prime Minister is simply uninterested. Or hostile. Or cynically preparing for what I call the CAT strategy in the coming election: climate; asylum; and transgender; a culture war campaign.

He outlines a series of uncomfortable trade-offs that he says we must be prepared to make to get to Net Zero.

One of those trade-offs is cost. Nothing fuels populist anger more than regressive levies on environmental bads. For families whose sole practical, means of transport is an old banger, environmental taxes are resented, no matter the impact on the planet or local air quality. Politicians may choose to press ahead but they cannot ignore the negative side effects. In practice, the trade-offs are more complex. The environmental levy paid on fuel bills to provide support for new renewables was criticised for increasing energy bills but has helped to drive down the cost of offshore wind to a point that it is now consistently cheaper than gas.

He says that nuclear must also be part of the package:

Indeed, hostility to this impeccably zero carbon and energy secure domestic source has been led by the same green campaigners who oppose fossil fuel use. What we need is a portfolio of different, low carbon and secure sources including new renewables, nuclear and carbon capture.

This will cheer those within the party who are challenging our longstanding anti nuclear energy policy. Last year a motion to include nuclear power as part of an energy security package was put to Scottish Conference and referred back.

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Review: Vince Cable at the Edinburgh Festival

Our Glorious Former Leader, Vince Cable, came to Edinburgh yesterday to talk to Iain Dale. It was great to see him for the first time Bournemouth  Conference in 2019. He looks well and hasn’t aged even now he’s turned 80.

There was a time when our press office held its breath whenever he came to Scotland. I remember one Conference in particular, ahead of the independence referendum where he said something that wasn’t quite our line which the press and the SNP made hay with. Today, he could not have been more on message, praising what Ed Davey was doing in terms of building the party’s infrastructure and campaigning capacity.

Talking of Ed, he’s going to be here on Saturday at 4 pm, talking to Iain and his For the Many partner Jacqui Smith. You can get tickets here. If you haven’t listened to this podcast, do, it is bloody hilarious and you need it in your life. And if you are going on Saturday, get in touch with me ([email protected]) and I’ll let you know where we are meeting beforehand.

Iain started by asking him about his time as a Labour Councillor in Glasgow in the 1970s. Vince described how he was chief whip at a time when corruption was rife, and four of his group ended up in Barlinnie. He left for the SDP and has never felt  tempted by Keir Starmer’s Labour who are not offering anything positive. He criticised Wes Streeting for saying that it is better to offer no hope than false hope and thinks that they should be doing more to inspire people.

Education, he says, should be the priority at the next election, rather than the NHS. The Tories have failed so comprehensively on it and it desperately needs investment to improve attainment.

He reckoned that there was not much chance of us going into coalition after the next election. We would be heavily outnumbered, and the party would be reluctant to go there again.

Iain asked him if he was “pissed off “that he was seen as too old to go for leader back in 2006. He was, but he accepted the mood to hand power to the next generation

He talked about the coalition years, saying that he winced along with many of us at the Rose Garden scenes.  He says he’s probably the last man standing, though, who thinks that we were right to go in to the coalition and reeled off a long list of things that we had done,  the Green Investment Bank, the industrial strategy, investing in children from deprived backgrounds in school.

He vigorously defended privatisation of Royal Mail saying it was the only option to enble it to modernise as it wasn’t allowed to borrow.  He blamed the union for not co-operating. Iain pushed back on him as he thought the union leader was pretty reasonable from his interviews with him on LBC but Vince said that if they had co-operated, the privatisation would have brought in more money for the taxpayer. He also said that the most recent problems within Royal Mail were the result of bad management rather than the privatisation.

He considered resigning several times during the coalition years – over the  sting when he said some inappropriate things about the BSkyB takeover, when cuts started to hit his department, particularly in the further education sector and  towards the end when it was all going wrong.

He talked about his time as leader and the stroke which led to him stepping down. While he made a full recovery, he decided to stay quiet about it at the time in case it was seen as s sign of weakness.

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Kicking off the weekend

Welcome to the first proper weekend of the Summer holidays,  in England at least. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, we’re about half way through.

Powys Lib Dems help low-income families during Summer holidays

For many of us, it’s a chance to relax and unwind with our families. For others, it can be an incredibly stressful time. For parents on low incomes, the Summer holidays can be a nightmare. In Powys, Liberal Democrats have helped a bit with that, as we reported earlier in the week, by finding the money to continue the vouchers for families entitled to free school meals in their area. It was shocking that the Welsh Government scrapped the scheme introduced by our Kirsty Williams when she was Education Minister.

Labour is doing its best to kick struggling low income families in the teeth with Keir Starmer’s announcement that Labour would not get rid of the two child limit on benefit claims. He’s got himself in hot water with his own party. I have to say that if I had been a single mother with 3 kids in Uxbridge,  struggling to pay the bills, I’d not have been inclined to go out and vote Labour on Thursday. They can blame ULEZ all they like for their narrow defeat, but could they have won if they had had anything hopeful to say to people living in poverty?

Somerton and Frome shout-outs

Of course, it’s always great to wake up on the Saturday after a glorious by-election win. The heroes of the campaign have, I hope, managed to get some sleep. A huge shout out to Paul Trollope, whose arrival in Somerset within 24 hours of the by-election being a reality got the short campaign off to a flying start. Ruth Younger, match fit from 3 by-elections already helped deliver Sarah Dyke’s victory yesterday.

I suspect all of the staff involved had plans for the Summer which probably involved getting some r and r before the build up to a General Election year. For the fourth time in two years, they mobilised and delivered a cracking campaign so well done to all of them.

And to everyone who travelled there, including the fair few who went from Scotland, a massive thank you.

One group of people who don’t often get thanked are the volunteers who host the Maraphones. Richard Huzzey, Jacquie Gammon, Stephanie Ouzman and Hannah Perkin have been running these events at least 4 days a week since June. On polling day, they were joined by Federal Conference Committee Chair Nick Da Costa who just popped in to make calls but ended up pulling a 12 hour shift as a host to help with the many people who joined in the event. Thousands of calls were made during the maraphones, to voters and to members to encourage them to go, which is crucial in the early days of the campaign to build momentum.

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Come and see Ed Davey and Vince Cable at the Edinburgh Festival

Vince Cable and Ed Davey  are appearing at the Edinburgh Festival next month.

On Wednesday 9th August at 1pm, Vince will be taking part in Iain Dale’s All Talk and you can buy tickets here.  I went to a few of Iain’s shows back in 2019 and they were very entertaining and aimed at getting past message discipline and exposing the human being. This will be pretty easy with Vince. I say with great affection that message discipline was not always his biggest priority which is probably why he was so well liked. Rumours that the press team will be watching his performance from under a desk are exaggerated. Probably.

Under Vince’s leadership, the Liberal Democrats had some stunning results, winning 16 MEPs and gaining 700 councillors in 2019. We benefitted from a clear message, mission and purpose. And it was all the more remarkable that he led us with so much energy when facing his own health challenges, including having a mini-stroke in the Summer of 2018. However it was his economic credibility, his prediction of the 2008 economic collapse and telling Gordon Brown that he had gone from being Stalin to Mr Bean that he is perhaps best remembered for. He has had a fascinating life, from starting out as a Labour Councillor in Glasgow and the 70s, to marrying his first wife Olympia against his family’s wishes. And of course there was Strictly.

Ed will be appearing on Saturday 12 August, the Glorious Twelfth itself, at 4pm on Iain’s For the Many show with former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. You can buy tickets here. When his appearance was first announced, I wrote:

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Vince Cable destroys Braverman’s anti international students rhetoric

This week’s net migration figures have driven the Government to set their sights on reducing the numbers of international students. Suella Braverman has had them in her sights for a while, saying last month:

“We’ve also got a very high number of students coming into this country and we’ve got a really high number of dependents. So students are coming on their student visa, but they’re bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa. Those people are coming here, they’re not necessarily working or they’re working in low-skilled jobs, and they’re not contributing to growing our economy.”

As Business Secretary during the coalition years, former Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable was in charge of international student numbers and had numerous battles with then Home Secretary Theresa May about them.

Writing on Medium, he has taken Braverman to task about her anti student rhetoric.

Preoccupied by the headline numbers, she has promised a ‘crack down’. This is to take the form of cutting visas for dependents — that is, married students — and for those seeking ‘low quality’ degrees. I recall the same pejorative language being used to dismiss any university not in the Russell Group. Other than sheer academic snobbery, it is difficult to see the substance behind this distinction. In ‘left behind’ parts of Britain it is often the less fashionable and less prestigious, but good quality, new universities which are a mainstay of the local economy. It is reassuring to hear that the Chancellor is warning that the proposed ‘crackdown’ will ‘harm the economy’ and that the Education Secretary is committed to defending British universities.

He highlights the benefits that international students bring:

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Exclusive: Vince Cable talks about his new book

Former Lib Dem leader Vince Cable has just published a fascinating new ‘his and her’ memoir, ‘Partnership & Politics in a Divided Decade’, with his wife Rachel. It covers a tumultuous decade in British politics which saw the creation of the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, Brexit and beyond.

I asked Vince about the book and his reflections on the era…

You published a well-received memoir, Free Radical, in 2010, so why write a second volume?

Certainly, two bites of the cherry is rather self-indulgent. I justify it on the basis that the really important things, politically, happened after 2010.

And why write a ‘his and her’ memoir rather than a traditional solo memoir?

I think the partnership element in political lives is very neglected – and the double act with Rachel meant the book isn’t so egocentric. At stressful times (Coalition, defeat, leadership) the emotional and practical support was essential. Also the ‘political wives’ perspective has been rather spoilt by Sasha Squire: funny but lots of malicious gossip.

The Coalition years seem a lifetime ago now, but you think it’s important to revisit them?

A major motive for writing the book was seeing the party become a victim of lazy stereotypes crafted by our opponents and our being mostly airbrushed out of history.

What should the Lib Dems be proudest of achieving during the coalition government?

There is a long list of Lib Dem achievements: the pupil premium; triple lock pensions and stakeholder pensions; gay marriage; lifting low earners out of tax; development of offshore wind; and in my department the creation of the British Business Bank and the Green Investment Bank, as well as relaunching apprenticeships and preserving the Post Office network.

We also stopped a lot of bad things: deeper cuts in benefits, highly illiberal moves on immigration, and some of the wacky ideas now being peddled by Rees-Mogg like ‘no fault dismissal’ and effectively outlawing strikes.

What about the controversial hike in student tuition fees?

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Vince Cable: Labour and Liberal Democrat silence over Brexit will cost the country

Vince Cable has challenged Labour and the Liberal Democrats to speak up more about the damage Brexit is doing to our country o stop even more damage being inflicted.

The former Lib Dem Leader recently became President of the European Movement and writes in the Independent (£) that support for Brexit is collapsing.

Outside that goldfish bowl, opinion is shifting. An Opinium survey showed that 60 per cent of voters (including 40 per cent of Leave voters) think Brexit has “gone badly”. Ipsos found, in June, that 45 per cent of those surveyed (including 22 per cent of Leave voters) felt that Brexit had “made life worse”. Support for Brexit is collapsing, but its core support remains.

He lists the damage that Brexit has already done:

The economy is measurably smaller than it otherwise would be. Investment, hit by Brexit uncertainty, still hasn’t recovered. Trade is down. Sectors badly hit by Brexit-induced labour shortages are still struggling. Alternative visa arrangements are not in place. And inflation is worse than it should be.

And if that isn’t bad enough:

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Vince Cable on tomorrow’s Spring Statement

Writing in the Independent today, Vince Cable said:

The geopolitical earthquake in Ukraine will generate an economic tsunami, sweeping away comforts and orthodoxies with which we have become familiar in recent decades. We don’t yet know the height of the waves, but we know they are on their way.

The era of low interest rates is first to go. Central banks, including our own Bank of England, are becoming alarmed about inflation and are moving to higher rates, which further depresses consumer demand and investment. Despite rate rises, some forecasters believe the UK could hit 10 per cent inflation by the end of the year and be in recession.

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Vince Cable says we could win 30 more seats in 2024

Writing in the Independent today, Vince Cable predicts: ”A realistic if optimistic outlook is that the Lib Dems could take 30 more Tory seats at the next general election.” Some may think that is ambitious but if we don’t have ambition we are never going to succeed.

He begins with Orpington, a by-election, on a massive 26 per cent swing in 1962. That was fifty years ago and the political quicksand has shifted since then. But it doesn’t mean that, buoyed by our successes in Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire, we can’t deliver 30 MPs.

The experience in North Shropshire was that people no longer talked about the coalition. Only the very left talks about that now. We need to stride forward. Build on the excitement and momentum that we have gained during 2021. Ensure that we can get more MPs elected in 2024.

Over to Vince Cable.

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Cable causes controversy over Uyghurs comments

Our beloved former leader Sir Vince Cable took to a new right wing tv news channel last night to have a pint with Nigel Farage.

During that interview he basically said that we shouldn’t call the brutality that the Chinese authorities are inflicting on to the Uyghur population genocide. He said:

“The use of the word genocide is not right here. There is terrible human rights abuse in many countries of minorities and China is one of them and they have abused those minorities for sure but calling it genocide is hyping the language.”

I wonder if he would consider that Amnesty International were “hyping the language” in their report last month in which they described China’s treatment of the Uyghurs as “crimes against humanity.” Over 160 pages, they outlined horrific human rights abuses:

Agnes Callanard, Amnesty’s Secretary General said:

Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities face crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations that threaten to erase their religious and cultural identities.

“It should shock the conscience of humanity that massive numbers of people have been subjected to brainwashing, torture and other degrading treatment in internment camps, while millions more live in fear amid a vast surveillance apparatus.”

In February, the BBC reported on allegations of systematic rape in detention camps:

Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled Xinjiang after her release and is now in the US, said women were removed from the cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. She said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.

Earlier this year, the US Government described the treatment of the Uyghurs as genocide in its annual report on global human rights practices:

Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. These crimes were continuing and include: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of China’s birth control policies; rape; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; forced labor; and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.

With that sort of evidence, it’s not hard to see why Vince’s comments have provoked some controversy in the party, even from a senior MP.

Alistair Carmichael said on Twitter that while Vince was a long standing colleague whose views he valued, on this he was wrong:

Other members and party bodies criticised his comment too:

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Reflection on Vince Cable’s article “Shouting at China over alleged Uighur genocide won’t help” in The Independent

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I am at disbelief at Vince Cable’s assessment of the atrocities faced by the Uighurs people and the allusion of self-censorship based on emotional feelings in his article in The Independent yesterday.

The Uighurs are indeed facing a crisis and consequences of genocide that requires international attention. The 38th parallel between North and South Korea can sometimes be comparable to a pristine natural reserve, but one will not celebrate such as an achievement. The economic progress in China may also be a beauty. However, it is pushed forwards by the same autocratic regime that self-inflicted a famine causing the death of 1/3 of its population. Should then the fortune of economic progress be a remedy in consideration of atrocities and corruption by parties in the Chinese regime?

Vince noted he accepted sterilisation occurred to Uighurs in Xinjiang, however denies it amounts to genocide. I disagree with this interpretation. Indeed sterilisation is an occurrence to support the One Child Policy. Yet, the Uighurs population is noted to be put into forced sterilisation programmes in facilities where they do not have the freedom to venture about or out. These are the concentration camps appearing around Xinjiang noted by satellite pictures and filmed by the BBC.

Vince’s argument is that because there are other races and people of different beliefs who are caught up with the acts of sterilisation, therefore when ethnic Uighurs faced internment at facilities and then are put through sterilisation, ergo the lack of genocide. If this interpretation is correct, then one can apply a denial to Auschwitz because more than one group of people are being systematically mistreated and killed. I find the notion of denial disturbing and will utmost disagree to any denial of genocide.

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Hay Festival highlights – including Vince Cable on Money and Power

Until last year, I’d never been to the Hay Festival, much though I’d have loved to go to the beautiful Welsh town. I drove through it when I was in Brecon and Radnorshire for the by-election in 2019 and would love to spend more time there.

Anyway, the pandemic has meant that the annual festival has had to go online and is free to access. Although when I say free, there is a danger that you end up buying many books.

Last year, I registered for so many events and enjoyed them all. This year’s event starts this Wednesday, 26th May, and goes on until 6th June.

The beauty of this is that if you are working from home, you can have the events on in the background – but they are available to listen to for 24 hours afterwards.

I also have a subscription to the Hay Player (only £15 for the year) and many events end up there after the Festival is over.

I’ve spent some time this morning browsing through this year’s events. On 3 June, from 1-1:50 pm,  our Vince Cable will be talking about his book Money and Power: The World leaders who changed economics. From the programme:

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Britain in a Post-Trump, Post-Brexit world

The Social Liberal Forum’s highly successful online programme continues on Monday 22nd February with Britain in a Post-Trump, Post-Brexit World. Our two guests are William Wallace-well known to Lib Dem Voice readers- and Professor Anand Menon. You can register for free by following this link to the SLF website: Britain in a Post-Trump, post-Brexit World .

Professor Anand Menon is the Director of the UK in a Changing Europe and Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at Kings College, London.

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Book review: Vince Cable “Money and Power”

Despite his many years at the pinnacle of British politics, Vince Cable has always managed to maintain an impressive literary output. In 2009, while the party’s deputy leader and shadow chancellor, he published The Storm, an accessible analysis of the 2008 financial crash. This was followed in 2015 by After the Storm, a look at the aftermath of the crisis on British economic policy from the perspective of Cable’s five years in the Cabinet as Business Secretary. Most recently during his time as party leader, Cable even managed to find the time to publish a political thriller, Open Arms, set at the intersection of Westminster politics and the Indo-Pakistani conflict.

Cable’s latest work, Money and Power, marks a return to non-fiction and the serious economic themes that are his bread and butter. Inspired by Keynes’ oft-quoted remark that “practical men…are usually the slaves of some defunct economist”, the book is a survey of leading politicians over the past few centuries that – consciously or unconsciously – have through their actions changed or deepened our understanding of political economy. As both a trained economist and former government minister, Cable is better placed than most to take on this ambitious task.

The sixteen figures profiled by Cable are genuinely global in their breadth, and include Alexander Hamilton and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the US, Bismarck, Lenin, and Thatcher in Europe, and Lee Kuan Yew, Deng Xiaoping and Shinzo Abe in Asia. Yet just as compelling are Cable’s profiles of lesser known yet nonetheless influential individuals, such as Ludwig Erhard, an economist turned politician who was instrumental in designing Germany’s post-war economic model, and Leszek Balcerowicz, another economist turned statesman who developed the thinking behind Poland’s largely successful “shock therapy” transition from communism to capitalism.

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LibLink: Vince Cable asks “What if the vaccine isn’t enough?”

Vince Cable has written in the Independent today asking that rather worrying question.

Most of us, including the government, are assuming that if the mass vaccination goes ahead speedily we shall see relaxation of the Covid restrictions in March and be largely free of them in the summer. The economy will bounce back and we can begin to enjoy the Roaring Twenties with a good holiday in the sun. My own sense of optimism is fuelled by the fact that I am in line to get my first vaccine jab this week and I already feel safer and freer.

But maybe that is wishful thinking? What if the vaccination rollout is slower than we hope (and impeded by idiotic NHS bureaucracy, such as the requirement that volunteers should have a level 2 “safeguarding” qualification in case they encounter children)? What if another variant of the virus arrives that requires new vaccines and repeat vaccination programmes? What if there are sufficient numbers who fail to get vaccinated – because of ignorance, groundless prejudice or fear – as to keep the pandemic alive?

He says that we need to plan for these eventualities to avoid restrictions through 2021 and beyond. Several actions are required.

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Todays Press Release – 25th November 2020

PRESS  RELEASE

Aid cut makes a mockery of ‘Global Britain’ promise

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement that the foreign aid budget will be cut, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran said:
“Today the promise of ‘Global Britain’ became hollow. Shirking away from our global responsibilities by cutting development spending during a worldwide pandemic is short-sighted and wrong.
“The Liberal Democrats enshrined the 0.7% in law precisely so it was flexible with the economic reality. By changing the law the Government is breaking its promise to the British people and to the world’s poorest.
“The Liberal Democrats will always stand up for the life-changing power of UK aid, and I will work cross-party to oppose this callous move.”
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Vince Cable joins body aiming for sustainable manufacturing recovery

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Sir Vince Cable has joined the advisory board of the newly founded Institute for Prosperity.

The Institute’s press release states:

A cross-party group of political heavyweights have joined forces to campaign for a new, manufacturing-led economic agenda that supports left-behind regions across the UK.

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LibLink: Vince Cable on Biden and Trump post election

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Vince Cable has just published an article on The Independent: “Biden faces a war on many fronts – Trump has the tools to make the presidency a poisoned chalice“.  He considers the worrying consequences of Trump losing but still able to call upon substantial support.

Trump’s career in the New York property market owed much to the deployment of batteries of lawyers to intimidate and out-manoeuvre his competitors. Every legal argument in the book will be deployed to block or invalidate the postal ballots which have tipped the balance in key states. If he can get a case in front of the Supreme Court, he calculates that the justices will forget their oath of impartiality and remember their political debt to the president who appointed them.

It is rumoured he then plans to challenge the make-up of the electoral college. There is also the possible scenario I described in this column three weeks ago, where uncertainty generated by the legal challenges leads to people taking the law into their own hands, leading to a state of emergency and – in effect – a coup d’etat.

However, Republicans like Mitch McConnell …

… will have no truck with legal chicanery designed to frustrate the election result.

Even if Trump’s attempts to reverse the result fail, and he reluctantly agrees to leave the White House, he has plenty of options to make life for the new president somewhere between very difficult and impossible.

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LibLink – Vince Cable: Is Rishi Sunak about to go from hero to zero?

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Writing in the Independent, Vince Cable says that ‘the chancellor’s rapid transition from spendthrift to Scrooge has not yet been noticed by the admiring public but a change has undoubtedly occurred’:

One of the hot stocks of 2020, British chancellor Rishi Sunak, is starting to look seriously overvalued. His political allies, having talked up Sunak earlier in the year, tipping him for the top job, are now hedging their bets. The hero of the spring offensive may be on the brink of becoming the zero of the autumn retreat.

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An interview with Vince Cable

Former Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has just written a thought-provoking new book about China. So what motivated him to do so, and how does he think the West should respond to the emergence of this Far Eastern superpower? We spoke to him to hear his thoughts…

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Vince’s New Book – China: Engage! Avoid the New Cold War

He has done it again.  Sir Vince Cable has seemingly effortlessly published yet another book. This is at least his 6th, following Globalisation and Global Governance (2000), The Storm (2009), Free Radical (2010),  After the Storm (2015) and the novel Open Arms (2018). Despite its shorter length at around 99 pages, it is packed full with well researched facts and figures, insightful analysis, and is reflective of the mind of an ex economist and academic.

The title China: Engage! Avoid the New Cold War, makes clear his dovish view where it concerns the cold (and possible hot) war involving China. This stance is not ideologically driven but grounded on global evidence seen through the eyes of a senior statesmen and former Business Secretary in the UK Government (2010-2015).

The chapters are constructed in digestible chunks covering China’s economic rise, reasons for deteriorating relations with the US, alignment of the other nations and the more serious tech war.  I say serious as we all know that now in our 4th industrial revolution whoever comes out on top in the IT/AI race will be the one that rules the waves.

I write this serving my 14 day quarantine in a designated facility in Singapore and if not for access to wifi, I would be climbing the walls.  But instead I have just been watching Irina von Wiese speak on Brexit at the European Liberal Forum and am about to log into the Covid19 Anti Racism webinar hosted by the Chinese Welfare Trust charity.  Sadly anti-China sentiment has resulted in a sharp rise in hate crime against the Chinese diaspora communities in the UK and around the world.

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LibLink: Vince Cable – Were the political ‘bad guys’ right all along?

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Vince Cable has written an article in the Independent with the clickbait headline: “When it comes to handling coronavirus, were the political ‘bad guys’ right all along?

He writes:

As the UK contemplates yet again a change in direction, with more restrictions on activity to curb Covid-19, we should reflect on what is happening elsewhere in the world. Only a few months ago, Sweden was the heart of darkness: a country which, for unaccountable reasons, had gone off the rails, embracing weird theories about the pandemic, disdaining lockdown, resulting in the slaughter of its elderly population and ostracism from the club of civilised social democratic countries in Scandinavia. Now it emerges that they may have been on to something, with a consistent – and apparently successful – approach.

The most recent (very preliminary) economic data also suggests that the United States, under a president regarded by most progressive folk as a malign, Covid-denying buffoon, has suffered less economic damage than most of the rest of the developed world. And Brazil, presided over by another malign, Covid-denying buffoon, has got away with much less damage, and less impact on its poor, than its Latin American neighbours, like Peru, Chile and Argentina who took the pandemic seriously.

So, were the Bad Guys right?

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LibLink: Vince Cable: Labour and Lib Dems have to work together to beat Tories

In his Independent column this week, Vince Cable talked about the need for Liberal Democrats and Labour to set aside their differences and work together to oust the Tories in 2024.

He didn’t call for a formal pact, but for the sort of non aggression agreement struck up by Paddy and Blair pre 1997.

He waded into the broad appeal vs ideology argument:

The two centre-left parties are currently at very different levels. But they face essentially the same two problems: how to connect with a public which is confused, frightened and divided; and how to translate support into seats in parliament to effect a change in government.

As to the first, both parties have the same destructive tendency, in different ways: each gets hung up on abstract debates on values and principles. Labour has a long history of sectarian feuding over the relative merits of “social democracy” or “socialism” (now represented respectively by the Blairites and Corbynites). Starmer is smart enough to realise that the public has little interest in “isms”, is impressed by people who seem both practical and optimistic, and doesn’t like extremes. The Lib Dems, by contrast, don’t have ideological feuds but love talking to themselves about “liberal values”, which are either very vague or targeted at microscopically small groups. The tough lesson for both is that Britain’s most successful centre-left leaders – Wilson, Blair and, long ago, Lloyd George – were pragmatic to a fault.

He had a couple of ideas on economic policy:

Aligning capital gains and income tax, removing generous tax reliefs on pension pots, and removing perks for well-off pensioners. All this sounds like Lib Dem “alternative budgets” proposed over the years, and certainly too much to swallow for the Tory backwoodsmen. Ed Davey, in particular, with a strong economics background, has an opening to occupy the centre-ground while the right of the Conservative Party squabbles.

Then there is the wider issue of the direction of the British economy once it is cut loose from the EU. As it happens there is an immediate challenge: what to do about Britain’s only major global tech company, ARM, designer and maker of advanced microchips. Opposition leaders should be shouting from the rooftops to save it. Without a clamour, it is likely to be gobbled up by a predatory American company and then spat out in Trump’s new cold war with China. One of the successes of the coalition was seeing off a (Pfizer) takeover for Astra-Zeneca, now key to the work on a Covid-19 vaccine, and the wider revival of industrial strategy. Keeping ARM British is a campaign that could create a popular front page for both left- and right-wing press.

And a warning on how we should save the union:

And all the unionist parties risk a failure to appreciate that Scottish nationalism is rooted in emotion, and will not be vanquished by talk of pounds and pennies alone. One respect in which the Lib Dems can make a major contribution is to refresh its thinking about home rule within a federal UK. This would be welcome north and south of the border since many English people also reject our horribly over-centralised, London-dominated, system of government.

He warns that we leave the Tories to govern if we don’t work together:

A serious agreement could be done with a lot of self-discipline, but to be credible with the electorate it would need a common “offer”, as well as common candidates. The risk of such an approach is that it looks like a “stitch-up”, which could turn voters off. There should be serious discussion about how to cooperate, but where I suspect we shall finish up is a tacit understanding about priority constituencies, as in 1997, when Blair and Ashdown made a breakthrough for both parties.

The growing numbers who are angry and disillusioned with this government will expect no less than intelligent cooperation between “progressive” opposition parties. Both need to remember that pragmatism is the path to power, while continued self-righteous airing of differing “values” and “principles” will gift the Tories another decade in office.

You can read the whole article here (£).

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LibLink: Vince Cable Disbanding Public Health England is the last thing the Government should be doing right now

Writing in the Independent this week, Vince Cable condemned the Government’s decision to shut down Public Health England.

He suggested that it was the scapegoat for the Government’s policy failings before setting out why it is such a bad idea:

Aside from practical questions about who is to deal with other public health issues like obesity and sexual health, the long-term challenge for the new agency and its network of local public health officers is to make Britain better prepared for serious pandemics in future. They must be ready, too, for the more predictable annual rounds of flu, which though they are sufficiently understood to be countered by vaccination still affect 15 per cent of the population, and each year kills 10,000 people in the UK and a quarter to half a million people worldwide.

He talks of the need to look at environmental factors at an international level to limit future pandemics:

But prevention cannot be achieved by any one country working alone when we are considering the complex origins of zoonotic viruses which have jumped species. Blame for Covid is placed on Chinese wet markets and dietary preferences which fits the politically convenient narrative of Chinese culpability. But there are deeper problems.

Some scientists point to the impact of deforestation which is bringing humans and domesticated animals into closer contact with previously unknown species and viruses. As forest cover disappears, the species face mass extinction but the viruses contained in the fauna can strike back. And once new, dangerous, viruses are in circulation, growing connectivity means that local outbreaks become global very quickly. Worryingly, there is little sign that the necessary lessons about unsustainable lifestyles are being drawn.

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LibLink: Vince Cable – we need to learn lessons from Nigel Farage

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Over on the Independent website, Vince Cable, with typical wisdom, conducts a post-mortem on the “remain” campaign. He advises that we need to learn lessons from Nigel Farage, such as campaigning outside of Westminster through social media and other non-parliamentary means:

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How super Lib Dem MPs contributed to Super Saturday

Here are the Lib Dem contributions from our MPs in yesterday’s “Super Saturday” debates.

First up was Jo, basically telling the Prime Minister that he was too feart to put his deal to the people:

The Prime Minister’s deal removes protections on workers’ rights. It puts a border down the Irish sea and, according to the Government’s own analysis, will damage our economy on a scale greater than the financial crash. Today, hundreds of thousands of people will be outside demanding a final say in a people’s vote. Is not it the truth that the reason why the Prime Minister refuses their calls is that he knows that, if given the option, the people will reject his bad deal and choose to remain in the European Union?

Which he didn’t answer, of course.

Then Luciana tackled him on the fact that the Government hadn’t even provided back of a cigarette packet figures for how the deal would impact on the economy:

The Prime Minister’s Brexit Secretary was on television this morning. He confirmed that no economic analysis of the deal has been done. I ask the House to let that sink in: no economic analysis of the deal, on which we are all expected to vote today, has been done. How does the Prime Minister anticipate that Members on all sides the House can, in good faith, be expected to vote on a deal today that will impact on our country for decades to come?

Answer came there none. And the same when Sarah Wollaston had a go later:

Evidence matters, Prime Minister. How can he possibly assure our constituents that this is a good deal if he has not carried out an economic impact assessment of what it will cost them? If he has carried that out, why on earth are we not able to see it as we debate this today?

Tom Brake challenged him to rule out leaving at the end of the transition period without a deal:

Would the Prime Minister agree to pass an Act making it unlawful for us to leave at the end of the transition phase without a deal?

And he refused to do so. Quelle surprise. But look at what he said, while thanking ministers and civil servants for procuring the deal:

I respectfully say to the right hon. Gentleman that I do not think their position has been made easier by measures passed in the name of the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn). Not a good idea!

A bit of a contradiction since he’s been hailing this brilliant deal he brought back with the Benn Act in place.

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15 October 2019 – the overnight press release

Urgent action needed in mental health and learning disability services – Lib Dems

Today the publication of CQC’s ‘State of Care 2018/19’ report reveals a rise of inpatient services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism that were rated inadequate.

The report also shows a rise of child and adolescent mental health inpatient services rated inadequate.

Responding to the report, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Vince Cable said:

It is rare for a public body such as the Care Quality Commission to be so scathing of the effects of Government policy. Their honesty is to be

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Vince, Luciana and Norman write about mental health

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. Three of our MPs wrote articles on different aspects of mental health.

Vince Cable wrote for Times Red Box (£) about his mother’s post natal depression and the impact on their family.

When I was aged ten, shortly after my brother was born, my mother had a breakdown. She had to go into a mental health unit for the best part of a year. My brother was fostered. When she returned from hospital a year later, she was somewhat better, but her confidence had been shattered.

Today it is still young mothers, or children and young people, who because of the underlying problems in mental health services, are often those who are struggling to get help. Even generally, over half of adults with a diagnosed mental health problem have to wait four weeks to see a specialist. These long waiting times can only make the mental health crisis worse.

And what did he learn about what helps people to recover?

One of the things that really helped my mother improve, both in terms of her mental health and in terms of confidence, was adult education.

Engaging with others, having a supportive structure, did wonders for her wellbeing. That is why the Liberal Democrats will deliver mental health support, not just through the NHS but through communities and throughout society.

By creating a reward scheme for employers who invest in the mental wellbeing of their employees, restoring funding of ‘early help’ services that were cut by the Conservatives, and improving training for health professionals in spotting signs of postnatal depression, the Liberal Democrats will deliver better mental health support for everyone, and ensure help is there before problems becomes crises.

Luciana Berger has long campaigned on mental health issues. For Rethink Mental Illness, she wrote about suicide prevention at a strategic and an individual level:

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7 October 2019 – the overnight press release

Cable: Psychiatric vacancies demand annual workforce plan

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Vince Cable has called for the Secretary of State for Health to produce an annual workforce plan following a report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists which reveals one in ten consultant psychiatric roles are unfilled.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Vince Cable said:

With children not accessing treatment and with psychiatrists under huge amounts of pressure due to staff shortages, the Conservative Government does not have a grip on the serious situation in mental health services.

Today’s survey is another example of how the Conservatives plans for the NHS are fundamentally

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