Vince on dangers of immigration debate and encouraging women in business – he doesn’t seem to be in the mood for resignation

I thought it was supposed to be holiday season for MPs. Not for our Vince, it seems. He’s been everywhere the last couple of days. Today, the BBC reports, he has been making the point that all the hot air on immigration is going to stop the very people we need to boost our economy will be put off from coming here:

But he warned that the globalised world of university recruitment was in danger of being undermined in the UK by anxieties over immigration.

He said that the “politics of identity” which worried about immigration and the economic need for open markets were forces “pulling in opposite directions”.

The debate about overseas students was “caught up in this torrid and emotional argument about immigration”, said Mr Cable.

Even though there were no set limits on overseas student numbers, the drive to prevent the misuse of student visas had created a “perception” that the UK did not want overseas students, said Mr Cable.

This was particularly the case in India, he said, and that fewer students are now coming from India.

Mr Cable told the conference, organised by the University of Warwick, that highly-skilled overseas staff working in the UK could face “absurd” visa regulations, which had been created to “placate public panic”.

The recruitment of overseas students had been “seriously distorted” by the tensions over immigration, he argued. And he said it was “absurd” to see a cut in student numbers as a “triumph for immigration control”.

Yesterday he spoke to the Huffington Post at a business start-up event, firstly about the challenges of getting more women to start up businessses and into Parliament.

Cable acknowledged there are a “pathetically low level” of women at the top of the UK’s biggest companies, but said the government was not aiming to change how boardrooms operated.

“Business is hard, competitive and there are failures. I don’t think the culture needs to change so women can get into it,” he said.

Quotas too, he said, were not a solution, but the government still hopes to achieve a now seemingly-impossible goal of 25% of boardroom members being women by 2015.

“We want to put on pressure, to name and shame, not to impose quotas,” he said.

But the cabinet needs to put its own house in order, Cable admitted. “We know women are underrepresented in both sides of the coalition, and in parliament, which should be representative of the country. We acknowledge and understand that.”

He talked a bit about the challenges facing the retail sector:

It is a sector that’s had a lot of distress, but I think if you look at the most recent indicators, I don’t want to make myself look a fool by talking about green shoots, but there are some moderately encouraging figures around retail activity in the last few months which we must hope is sustained.

And to top of a trio of Cable stories, the New Statesman has him down as one of three who might resign over the spending review. His Department certainly took some heavy cuts the first time round and I would not be surprised if he’s fighting his corner. I am sure many Liberal Democrats would give over non vital body parts to see Vince face down Danny Alexander in the Government’s so-called star chamber. But resign? Over a review that doesn’t take effect until around the time of the next election and would in all probability be re-done afterwards? I think not.

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

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19 Comments

  • That headline is a perfect example of why the Oxford comma is a useful punctuation mark: What are the dangers of women in business?

  • Malcolm Todd 29th May '13 - 11:14pm

    That’s not what an Oxford comma is. The Oxford comma comes before ‘and’ or ‘or’ after the penultimate item in a list of three or more. What you need here is to repeat ‘on’ before ‘women’.

  • If Vince goes, another Lib Dem victim will have to be wheeled into place without the accumulated weight of experience and influence to resist the pre-planned cut. It’s not going to happen.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th May '13 - 11:32pm

    Here’s a solution: cut capital allowances and save £21 billion. No need to decimate public services.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th May '13 - 11:35pm

    Yes you might lose some investment because of it, but why not take a risk for the poor? I’ve not got around to the figures on the other areas of corporate welfare, but it might be interesting.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 30th May '13 - 7:46am

    Duncan, you are right. That headline did not read well at all. I have tweaked it. Thank you Malcolm for the suggestion but I’ve taken a slightly different tack.

  • Simon McGrath 30th May '13 - 8:22am

    “I am sure many Liberal Democrats would give over non vital body parts to see Vince face down Danny Alexander in the Government’s so-called star chamber”

    What would you rather see cut? the NHS ? Foreign Aid ? WElfare ?

  • Mark: Yes of course less people coming here to learn English from natives is definitely a good thing [/sarcasm]

  • Simon Banks 30th May '13 - 9:22am

    Mark – why is a drop in the number coming to language schools not a bad thing? It ‘s money all round – to the language schools, to the staff and to those who sell them coca-colas, t-shirts etc.

  • Michael Parsons 30th May '13 - 12:33pm

    Hi Joe!
    ‘Magic potof money non-existent” So please could you explain where the banks get money from, what “fiat money” and the credit multiplier means, and why this needs State finance to keep going these days?

    Then try telling us there is no ‘magic pot’. The problem is not where money comes from, but who has it and where it goes to. Certainly not to the common good under the leading player Osborne and his backing bit-part performers.

  • @Mark: May be you would have been able to express your point more clearly if you went to an English language college. Of course, it would still be a ridiculous point.

    If there are fewer international students studying at institutions for further education in the United Kingdom, then not only does this have a massively negative impact on our economy, as this is a group which spends a vast amount of disposable income here, but it also means that these institutions will have to charge British students even higher fees because at this time, right or wrongly, the fees paid by British students are being subsidised by the fees paid by international students.

    Also, if those English Language colleges that you have such a downer on close, then not only will we be starved of yet more vital disposable income that is brought into the country by international students, but also all those employed by these institutions will now become unemployed.

    This means that many of their members of staff will be forced on to benefits and the well-educated teachers with a higher level of disposable income will be forced abroad.

    Finally, others countries can and will impose reciposity measures on British students wishing to study a foreign language in another country. Oh great, just what we need, yet more barriers for British people trying to learn a second language; because that will most certainly help Britain’s international reputation.

  • Squirrel Nutkin 30th May '13 - 2:25pm

    Jennie: that would be “fewer people”, wouldn’t it?

    Grammatical pedantry aside, I entirely support your sarcasm: unless someone can show me strong evidence that the overwhelming majority of the drop in language students is down to blocking deceitful and greedy furriners (and isn’t that obviously tautology) pretending to want to learn from us, I shall continue to believe that a socially and economically beneficial activity has been damaged for the sake of accommodating the unfounded prejudices of a minority.

    (Comment delayed in moderation from this morning in order to remove – justifiably – a couple of harsh descriptive terms; but it does allow me to add “I agree with LiberalAl”)

  • Michael Parsons 31st May '13 - 12:06am

    Squirrel Nutkin
    We are assuming, of course, that all the people here can already speak and write good English and so no alternative field of worthy endeavour exists for language teachers? But I doubt it. And I am not referring to immigrants only of course. Why don’t the English teach their children how to speak? to paraphrase THE SONG.

  • @ Simon McGrath,
    The NHS is already being cut, hence all those A&E Departments being shut and clinical staff laid off. Still, it’ll be fine, Circo will cover it, like they did on the 111 helpline.

  • Simon McGrath 2nd Jun '13 - 7:02am

    @Simon – NHS spending hasn’t been cut. Simple matter of fact

  • @simon McGrath, we’ve spent 37 Bn fighting in Afghanistan. I’d like to cut that please.

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