Vince refers to “false rumours” and says “I’m not stepping down anytime soon”

On his Facebook page, Vince Cable has said:

There have been false rumours lately. As this statement says, I’m not stepping down anytime soon.

He’s linked to this article in the Independent

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable is not planning to quit the party “any time soon”, party sources have said after reports he will use a September speech to announce he is stepping down.

Sir Cable, who took over from Tim Farron after last year’s election, is due to give a policy speech on 7 September, a week before the party gathers in Brighton for its annual conference.

The Sunday Times and Business Insider both suggested that he would use the speech to announce plans to step down before the next general election, which is scheduled for 2022, when he would be 78 or 79.

They reported that he could also unveil plans to allow people to run for party leader if they are not an MP. The party currently has 12 MPs.

A party source told the Press Association: “He’s not about to stand down, or use the speech to stand down.

“There are no plans to step down any time soon.”

They also said that the idea of allowing a non-MP to be party leader is “not set in stone, but it’s an option”.

Mark Pack has written a typically sensible post about this story, in which he says:

There’s no mystery about Vince Cable doing more than one speech in September. Flip it around and think of the reverse. Think how weird it would be if he’d announced that he wasn’t doing any other speeches in September as he can cover everything in one party conference speech. The party needs to secure more coverage, and multiple speeches are one way to do that.

I have revised my article from Sunday based on this update.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • ‘False Rumours’ sparked by the ill-advised announcement, two weeks in advance, of a Press Conference on September 7th. Someone is either being disingenuous or incompetent or both.

  • David Becket 28th Aug '18 - 11:26am

    Once again our management of the media is dire.
    There should only be one message, coming from the Press Office.
    They should do regular Press Releases, with e mailed copies to every local party.
    At least twice a week, and not always knocking other parties but promoting ideas.
    Whilst they are at it they can sort out a web site where latest news goes back to June.

    It is not a new leader we need, but some fresh ideas in media management

  • I think it’s unfair to blame the press office, who generally aren’t that bad. The problem with stories like this usually traces back to various “senior” people in the party, who typically turn out to be peers, taking it upon themselves to talk anonymously to the media.

    That said, it would be sensible for Vince to think seriously about stepping down. Hopefully this latest ‘twist’ to the story is simply trying to recover some of the intended newsworthiness of the September announcement, before too much got briefed to the press.

  • John Marriott 28th Aug '18 - 12:39pm

    It reminds me of that speech Harold Wilson made at one of his party conferences in the mid 1970s. It went something like this: “People keep asking me what’s going on in the party. Well, I’m going on.”

  • Peter Watson 28th Aug '18 - 4:48pm

    It seems a bit silly that the so-called “statement” is a newspaper article which quotes “a party source” anonymously.

  • Ian Patterson 28th Aug '18 - 5:12pm

    The whole sorry episode was given legs by it took to ‘squash’ the idea. It should be noted the non mp leader has not been similarly squashed, despite the largely negative response on this site. The fantastically clever people in hq need to lie down in a darkened room for a while.

  • David Evershed 28th Aug '18 - 5:24pm

    Vince would do better to get media coverage about how our party policies improve freedom rather than about second class party membership and how to appoint a new leader.

  • um… it seems to me to be a non-denial denial. He may not be quitting “some time soon” – that is different from “some time” but not soon and put your own definition on soon.

    It also doesn’t mean that he won’t announce it before the General Election (which is what the BI story said – not in the September speech). You can easily foresee a situation where he has got the changes he wants through and can then say to the party well you now have a greater choice to choose from – make your choice and may be also in the hope that will improve our poll ratings etc.

    It seems likely – in fact all the stories pretty much agree – that he told “senior” Lib Dems he was making this speech so they could have it in the diaries and that it was to lay down proposed changes to the Lib Dems rules. And that he added that this was in the context that he was thinking that he probably would not go on to lead the party into the next election. It can easily be surmised that there were people or supporters of people that he said this to that don’t want him to go until after the election and indeed not allow non-MPs to be leader. It IS possible that it MIGHT have been in Vince’s own interest to leak this – even if didn’t come directly from him.

    It is easy to see that being leader after the next general might have little appeal for him. If we didn’t form a government then they would be pressure on him to stand down even with a significant improvement. And of course to still be leader going into the 2027 election and therefore after that is pushing it a bit – although I think Vince would be more capable of it and still very hail and hearty – and we shouldn’t be ageist we should have very old leaders and very young leaders if appropriate. If we are in Government it is easy to see that it is unlikely that the grind of being a cabinet minister would have much appeal to someone who has been there and got the t-shirt and entering their eighties. If he is not going to be leader in 2023 does he really want to be leader in 2022? With the exception we MIGHT get an election before 2022 due to Brexit – but if that comes it will come in the next 6-12 months – and I think it highly unlikely but I thought that May would never in a month of Sundays call an early election as too risky! (She should have listened to me!)

  • Michael 1. There is a theory which says Mrs May would opt for another referendum rather than call an election – she’s been there and got the T shirt ! Better to lose a referendum and carry on in the job with another million or two for the DUP.

  • At least Vince can dance! (TM clearly can’t from what I saw on the news tonight).

  • Simon Banks 9th Nov '18 - 8:14pm

    He could quit the leadership without quitting the party!

    I seem to recall when his “coronation” happened and Jo became deputy leader in the Commons, he said he expected to serve for about two years. If he’s not stepping down “any time soon”, it would appear he’s changed his mind. But of course there are sensible reasons why leaders thinking of calling it a day often suggest otherwise.

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