Vince: Lib Dems can make a real difference to the future of our country

Vince Cable’s team will be happy if we do  two things at this Conference. The first is to present a very strong line on Brexit, marking the Liberal Democrats out as the unequivocally anti-Brexit party who want the people to have the final say on whatever emerges from the negotiations. The second is to establish Vince firmly in people’s minds as one of the most credible, authoritative voices on the economy that this country has. They want people to understand that he has the answers to address the concerns that they had when they voted Leave. It’s been fantastic to see him talk about reducing the inequality that is harming our society.

In the last few weeks, he has complemented the work he’s done on Brexit with talking about improving things for people who are struggling. He is particularly keen to offer young people a hopeful future which is why he launched a report with NUS setting out ideas for improving Further Education last week.

Vince is quite definitely the grown-up in the room in British politics and this week is the chance to show the country that the Lib Dems understand the problems we face and can do something about it. Ahead of Conference, he said:

This is a critical time in British politics, the country has a weak government trembling over a cliff edge. Only the Liberal Democrats have been strong and honest in warning the country about the dangers of Brexit.

The Liberal Democrats will fight to keep Britain in the Single Market and offer an exit from Brexit – a referendum on the final Brexit deal with the option to remain.

The Liberal Democrats go into conference bigger, more diverse, and significantly more influential than before the General Election. With a hung parliament, a weak Conservative government, a divided Labour Party and the Brexit process underway, the Liberal Democrats can make a real difference to the future of our country. Bournemouth is a chance to set out our vision.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Peter Martin 16th Sep '17 - 8:08am

    I was rather disappointed to hear Vince Cable use the silly expression “magic money tree” on the TV last night. As in “there is no….”

    Where does he think money comes from in the first instance? The taxpayer? We often end up in jail when we try that on.

    Before it is available for us to pay our taxes it has to be created and spent into the economy by government. Sure, if Govt overdoes it we’ll end up with too much inflation. But on the other hand if it underdoes it we have a sluggish economy.

    Vince has the reputation of being economically literate. But is it possible he really isn’t?

  • Peter Martin 16th Sep '17 - 11:32am

    @ Martin,

    I’m not the one claiming to be the expert. If Vince tells us there’s “no magic money tree” I’m quite prepared to believe him. Just like I believed, when told, that babies were delivered by the stork or whatever.

    So the question I’m asking is: where does it come from?

  • Sue Sutherland 16th Sep '17 - 1:06pm

    I think it’s unwise to use any catchy phrase that issues from the mouth of Theresa May.

  • Vince should be strong on the economy as he has a PhD in Economics, but he often gives the impression he just goes along with the current orthodox economic view. The only reason he can have to use the Tory phrase “there is no magic money tree” is because he still believes in austerity. Joe Bourke posted a link to an article by L Randall Wray entitled “Taxes are for Redemption Not Spending” (, which points out the money has to be created before it can be taken back by the government in taxation. Common sense should make it clear that the state creates the money first. It has always been normal for the government (king or ruler) to issue coins to be used as money, and it is rare for a society to develop if it uses barter instead. The king in olden times must have minted his coins and used them to buy things and then the people used them to buy things amongst themselves and to pay their taxes back to the king.

  • Peter Martin 16th Sep '17 - 5:22pm

    @Michael BG,

    I’m not sure that it’s even the “current orthodox economic view.” Ask any economist, even those who are monetarist and well to the right, about where money comes from and they’ll know very well the technical processes involved.

    They’ll perhaps tell you, in their more candid moments, that the problem is everyone else who has a lot of trouble with the idea of “printing money”. So politicians have to invent a fiction that their money all comes from taxpayers. The truth is that, apart from loose change, it’s all printed or created by keystroke on a computer. The “tree” fairy tale is useful for politicians, like Theresa May when fobbing off nurses who desperately need a pay rise.

    Vince’s only possible defence , if we were to accuse him of lying, is an ultra-literal one. There is no arboriculture involved.

  • Steve Trevethan 16th Sep '17 - 5:57pm

    The theory and/or practice of money creation, distribution and storage is the basis of all government activity and is profoundly important to the functioning of societies. All governments and political parties are dangerously deficient in their duty and their efficiency when they do not make clear to their citizens what their theory is, how they put it into practice and how they measure the qualities of that practice.

    What is our LD theory of money creation, storage and distribution?

  • Bill Fowler 17th Sep '17 - 8:55am

    All I know is that the 1p on income tax will be eaten up by wage increases and not result in better services, it is more like 5p on income tax… the whole concept is wrong-headed, higher taxes on companies should be the way to go.

    Give Vince some credit, when everyone else said we had got out of the boom and bust cycle, he at least predicted the last crash…

  • Antony Watts 17th Sep '17 - 11:09am

    Absolutely useless to “wait to see what happens in these negotiations” then ask peoplw what they think

    An absolute Remain position must be taken, no ifs no buts.

    We need to promote just the advantages and the future of being in the EU, not propose more referendums on the issue. (And we need to have new laws for referenda, minimum 60% yes, minimum 75% voting.)

  • Peter Watson 17th Sep '17 - 12:24pm

    @Antony Watts “And we need to have new laws for referenda, minimum 60% yes, minimum 75% voting.”
    So are they the criteria that should be applied to a referendum on reversing Brexit?

  • Antony Watts 17th Sep ’17 – 11:09am:
    And we need to have new laws for referenda, minimum 60% yes, minimum 75% voting.

    Referendums effectively have a large in-built threshold in the form of status quo bias. This is the disproportionate propensity for people to vote for things to stay the same…

    ‘Status Quo Bias in Decision Making’:

    Most real decisions, unlike those of economics texts, have a status quo alternative — that is, doing nothing or maintaining one’s current or previous decision. A series of decision-making experiments shows that individuals disproportionately stick with the status quo. Data on the selections of health plans and retirement programs by faculty members reveal that the status quo bias is substantial in important real decisions.

    ‘The Status Quo Bias in Direct Democracy: Empirical Results for Switzerland, 1981 – 1999’:

    Using data of 142 popular decisions in Switzerland in the eighties and nineties, it is shown that the less citizens feel able to make a decision, the less they will vote in favour of a proposal. However, indirect effects of other proposals which are to be decided on the same weekend might counteract this effect. On the other hand, mobilisation is much more effective against than in favour of a proposal. This at least is clear evidence of a status quo bias in the Swiss political system. But it is open for discussion whether this bias should be evaluated positively or negatively.


  • ….

    The effect of status quo bias on a (then prospective) EU referendum has been considered before on LDV…

    ‘How referendums are the most effective way to maintain the status quo & what it means for Lords reform’ [May 2012]:

    That’s my brief run through the full list of our UK experiences of referendums, from which I draw two conclusions:

    1. A good rule-of-thumb is that the public will vote for the status quo when asked in a referendum. Put simply, voters tend to dislike change (no matter what they may tell pollsters when asked an abstract question). It’s a variation, I suspect, on the ‘loss aversion’ explanation of human behaviour: people prefer to avoid losses than to make gains;

    2. The exceptions to this rule-of-thumb being when the change proposed in a referendum is backed by a coalition of most/all the major parties.

    And that leads me to the following tentative views on the two contentious issues currently the subject of debate on whether we should hold referendums to settle them… First, an in/out referendum on British membership of the European Union would almost certainly result in the ‘in’ side winning. And, secondly, on House of Lords reform those opposed to reform (ie, in support of the status quo) would most likely win.

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