Vince Cable stands down as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Vince Cable has stood down as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in order to concentrate on his role as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The text of Vince Cable’s letter to Nick Clegg is below:

Dear Nick,

I am writing to offer my resignation in my role as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

It has been an honour to serve as the Deputy Leader of our party. However, in joining the cabinet I have taken on many new challenges and responsibilities and it is right that I focus wholeheartedly on the job in hand.

These are exciting times to be a Liberal Democrat, and despite all the challenges we face we have a real opportunity to change Britain for the better. There are great opportunities for the party alongside our working in coalition.

I wish my successor all the best in what is a rewarding and important role.

Yours ever,

Vince Cable

Nick Clegg said in response:

Vince has been a fantastic Deputy Leader during an exciting time for the party. I look forward to us continuing to work together in government.

This means that an election for the new Deputy Leader will take place on Wednesday 9 June with Lord (William) Wallace acting as the returning officer.

There will be a formal meeting of the Parliamentary Party on Wednesday 2 June to receive nominations.

If more than one nomination is received, hustings will take place at the meeting of the Parliamentary Party on 9 June. The ballot will take place at the end of that meeting, with the result declared thereafter.

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  • Andrea Gill 26th May '10 - 8:22pm

    Sorry to hear that but it is a HUGE job he’s got ahead of him there. (Oddly enough we haven’t had ANY mail all week… has our local PO already sold itself???)

    Simon Hughes is conveniently available though… 🙂

  • Who is likely to stand?

  • What does the job of deputy leader actually entail under the current circumstances?

  • i am ashamed of vince cable i always rated him highly now he has become a full time tory

  • Tim Farron anyone?

  • pat roche: {yawn}

  • Andrea Gill 26th May '10 - 8:39pm

    @IainM – Since Nick Clegg will probably be rather busy, I would think perhaps it will be a more important role than before?

  • yes it is a yawn when a good man crosses the line and sells his principles

  • Andrea Gill 26th May '10 - 8:57pm

    @pat roche – It shows that, contrary to nasty rumours, Vince is dedicated to doing a great job in government rather than jumping ship. Plus, it is a bloody HUGE job he’s got ahead of himself and the fact that he didn’t stand for leadership at the time indicates he had been keen on doing a good job rather than being a leader, deputy or not.

  • dominic hannigan 26th May '10 - 9:10pm

    I thought this would happen for the last few days. The deputy will now need to play a huge and greatly enhanced internal party role and I would strongly presume that simon will step up to the role with the backing of the leadership, though of course others could come forward.

  • yes paul a good anlysis which fits what i said that he now has no independence as he is a tory – that is how the public will see it at the next election

  • Steve Web? We like to balance things don’t we!

  • Andrea Gill 26th May '10 - 9:38pm

    @Paul – Yes I agree, aside from the fact that Vince probably has the biggest job alongside Nick Clegg at the moment!

  • Paul McKeown 26th May '10 - 9:39pm


    Yes, Tim Farron spoke very well on TV at the opening of parliament. Simon Hughes would also be a good candidate as others have suggested. There are many others, Alan Beith, for instance, or Alistair Carmichael or Sarah Teather or Jo Swinson or… loads of good candidates, really!

    Tim Farron or Sarah Teather. Both young, the party’s future will be in their hands… can see either of them leading the party at some future date!

  • Paul McKeown 26th May '10 - 9:40pm

    @pat roche

    yawn – second that

  • Step forward Prince/ss Hal

  • I agree that it needs to be someone young and dynamic.
    Tim Farron would be an excellent choice for thus post.

  • Voting in either Sarah Teather or Jo Swinson would be a stroke of genius. Not only would they both be very good at the job, it would also start to remedy our abysmal record of having women occupying key roles in the party.

  • Of course! How could I forget Lynne Featherstone… so we have an embarrassment of riches as far as female candidates are concerned. Now let’s see if the party is as progressive as it claims to be.

  • Wouldn’t it be funny, if this overshadowed the Labour leadership race….

  • Lynne Featherstone is a minister, it need to be someone independent of govt. Jo Swinson & Sarah Teather? Not sure either has the qualities required. Alan Beith has already been deputy leader if memory serves me correctly.
    Tim is someone of the next generation, comes across as decent, sincere and someone the parliamentary party can have confidence in.

  • Jo will need to work damn hard to keep her seat. She is very vulnerable to losing it due to the pact that has gone down like a lead balloon in Scotland, particularly the West of Scotland. Her majority was already halved at this election.

  • So the BBC is talking up Simon. Looks like an establishment plot to me.
    1 – Need to keep the Liberal wing of the party on board
    2 – Vince told to stand down
    3 – Simon’s a shoe-in
    4 – That sorts out the radical left then.

  • @Keith – Simon is generally seen as being on the left of the party so unsure what you’re on about

  • Which wing of the party are Sarah Teather and Lynne Featherstone on?

  • My point entirely. Simon as DL appeases the left.

  • @Kehaar – Cable is only deputises for Osborne on the Economic Affairs Committee, he has his own department that has a huge pile of work ahead of it. David Laws is the Treasury “face” and he does a da*n good job of it!

  • I think the guardian sums it up well, it does rather kick in the teeth those who said Cable would throw his cabinet job in in protest soon:

    “Though Cable is known to have made every effort to make a Lib-Lab coalition possible while coalition negotiations were under way with the Tories, his vacation of the post to concentrate on his joint ventures with the Tories makes him less of a lightning rod for Lib Dem dissent.”

  • Lets hope our new Deputy leader actually sits with our Parliamentary Party and does’nt get ‘cut off’ through being ‘sandwiched’ between the Tories and the uncomfortably cosy seat Nick occupies next to Dave. I don’t know how our Leader can communicate with his Parliamentary colleagues from that distance, except through grimaces and the like.

  • If Vince’s justification for stepping down is that he has ministerial work to do, it would make most sense to have someone without a ministerial post do it.

    Steve Webb and Simon Hughes look like obvious possibilities. I agree with Alex that Jo Swinson would be wonderful.

    P.S. – I downloaded the 1997 Election Night the other day. Alex you look very… young.

  • Christ, are there so many ex LDYS people on these boards that Jo Swinson even looks like a prospect for this?

    Tim Farron has previous as number 2 to the party leader under Ming, knows the score in so many ways, is seen as friendly to the party lefties and just proved his personal abilities by turning a very marginal seat into a thumping majority. He’s the happiest to hang out in the bar at conference too iirc, a genuinely friendly chap.

    If people wish to judge candidates on the basis of the genetic gender hand nature has randomly dealt them, then such ‘liberals’ deserve the deputy leader they get. Gender has nothing to do with it, nor should it. People should be judged on the basis of their ability and nothing else.

  • Gez, the potential female candidates mentioned in the previos discussion all have the ability to be deputy leader of the party. They also have one other attribute that the party hierarchy sorely lacks – they’re female. What’s wrong with attempting to remedy that lack?

  • Malcolm Todd 27th May '10 - 1:28am

    “People should be judged on the basis of their ability and nothing else.”

    That would be on the basis of their ability to help the party maintain and broaden its appeal to the voters, presumably. In which respect, it’s quite possible that being a different gender from the party leader (and indeed almost all the main public faces of the party) would be highly relevant.

  • Andrea Gill 27th May '10 - 1:34am

    @Gez – I think a lot of the anti LibDem views of ‘Libdems are sexist’ are down to the fact that perhaps we as a party do not regard gender, ethnicity etc, as relevant, we perhaps don’t see boundaries and prejudice where many do.

    Which is obviously too liberal a view for many people…

  • As has been remarked above, it is appropriate in present circumstances that whoever is elected Deputy Leader should not be a minister and should sit with the non-ministerial Lib Dem MPs in the House of Commons. This should certainly rule out Webb, Teather and Featherstone, and I very much concur with what seems to be a prevailing opinion that Tim Farron would be the best selection.

  • Tim Farron still strikes me as a bit inexperienced. That said, when I saw him speak at conference a few years back I immediately thought that I was looking at a potential future leader. I also like his ideology, he seems to believe many of the same things that I do.

    Simon Hughes would, in my opinion, be an other good choice. He is much more in the VInce Cable mould of elder statesman. He is a well liked and extremely experienced politician, although he isn’t a leader in waiting.

    I haven’t really thought about any other contenders and any comment on them would be far too ill-informed to be of any value. I will, however, say that it says something about our party that we have so much talent on our benches.

  • Alix – I’m only going on recollection and impression, but I’m not sure that’s what Tim said or meant. I think he said he was going ‘to let the leader do the talking’ which was probably meant to be our communications strategy. Every single member of the parliamentary party and the FE giving comments, one by one, outside (in advance of Nick’s statement) lends itself to an impression of chaos.

    I suspect if he seemed frustrated, it was probably mainly by the throng of people at the exit and the fact he (and others) were getting stuck in front of the BBC camera.

    I don’t know what he thinks about the deal itself, but I’d be cautious about speculating on this evidence unless you do!

  • There is one over-riding need that the deputy leader must meet. He/she must be able and willing to act as the voice of the independent Liberal Democrats within the new parliament.

    Nick Clegg is the prime architect of coalition. As Deputy PM, a key responsibility must be to make the coalition work. It will be virtually impossible for one man to do that and, simultaneously, to be the conscience of his own party.

    We don’t want someone who sets out to undermine the coalition deal. We do want someone who will take a tough stand as and if it is necessary to do so. We do need someone who will make sure that in 2015, we are not and do not look like a whiolly owned subsidiary of the Conservative Party.

    Let’s have an election, and let’s challenge the candidates to tell us if that is what they are prepared to do.

  • OK, I see that Jock proposes a deputy who can truly deputise for the leader, who should therefore be a Cabinet member, ready and able to play a role within the coalition. Chris Huhne would be the obvious choice (and for a parallel of course, think of Harriet Harman, if you can do that dispassionately!)

    Well, I see the argument. But my strong feeling is that it isn’t enough. We are really going to struggle to preserve our independent identity. That is the comment experience of minor parties in European coalitions. It’s much more important to do that than to have a Harriet figure who can do the occasional PMQs (and anyway, we don’t do PMQs now, do we?)

    Let’s have an informal sub for Nick in parliament whenever we need one, person to be varied at will to meet the demand of the day. Let’s also have a proper voice as Deputy Leader for the independent Lib Dems and make sure it is a powerrful one.

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