Vince reflects on 2017, looks forward to an exit from Brexit and expresses Strictly anger.

This time last year, Vince Cable was looking forward to potentially winning the bad sex award for his novel Open Arms. He certainly wouldn’t have thought that by the end of 2017, he’d not only be re-elected as MP for Twickenham but would be leading the Liberal Democrats.

That his failure to pick up the said bad sex award was his low point of the year shows how spectacular 2017 has been for him.

He talked to Politico about his hopes for 2018. It’s simple, really.

To secure referendum on stopping Brexit. And winning it.

His lesson learned in 2017, “never to give up,” may help him to that goal.

His high point of 2017 wasn’t winning back his seat or the leadership, but something much closer to his heart.

My younger son happily married.

He was asked about his favourite tv show or movie from the year and he didn’t shy away from the controversy over the treatment of Alexandra Burke during Strictly.

Strictly Come Dancing.” Dancing addict. But got very cross over final.

A look at his Twitter feed gives some more details:

A bit like the Lib Dems, really.

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  • Jonathan Reeve 29th Dec '17 - 3:20pm

    Let us make Armistice Day 2018 – its centenary – the day we British consign Brexit to the rubbish bin of history. This is the best way to honour our glorious dead who gave their lives to secure Peace in our continent.

  • Jeremy Corbyn appears to be still adamant that Labour will not support calls for a second EU referendum
    Lord Adonis however, is of the view that Labour will come on board next year
    “The EU withdrawal bill…is the mechanism by which a referendum can be secured. When the bill reaches the House of Lords early next year, there will almost certainly be a majority of peers prepared to insert a requirement for a referendum before withdrawal takes effect.”

    “Labour will be in favour of a referendum by then, I predict. We know from his actions hitherto that, when absolutely pressed, Jeremy Corbyn takes the weakest pro-European course on offer. He may not be pro-European (the EU is not a Latin American liberation movement), but he can’t abandon his youth army and virtually his entire party by backing Theresa May on hard Brexit. By next summer the only way to disown May without taking responsibility for anything else will be to back a referendum.”

    “If I am right, then the crucial political event of 2018 will be the vote in the House of Commons next summer on a proposed referendum on May’s proposed withdrawal treaty. Will there be the 20 or so Tory rebels who are needed to carry it?”

    As to whether the referendum can be won, Lord Adonis goes on to say “A lot depends upon whether the alternative is the status quo – or EU membership without freedom of movement in respect of right to work and right to reside for all EU nationals. If Chancellor Merkel and President Macron make an offer, probably over the heads of the British government, for the UK to stay in the economic institutions of the EU, but with national control over immigration, I believe the referendum can be won.”

    “Why might Macron and Merkel make this offer? Partly because – in Macron’s case – he (rightly) doesn’t believe that unrestricted free movement of labour is integral to the single market. Partly because many other EU leaders agree with him. And partly for the big strategic reason – which weighs on strategic thinkers in Berlin – that, if Britain leaves the EU, 80% of Nato resources will then be outside the EU, which is hardly a recipe for European security and stability if you are looking across at the Russian and Chinese bears.”

  • ……………… “By next summer the only way to disown May without taking responsibility for anything else will be to back a referendum.”……….

    No, it won’t. Parliament taking responsibility is, IMO, a better and more likely scenario..

  • jayne mansfield 29th Dec '17 - 5:19pm

    I agree with vince. It was painful to see the best dancer on ‘Strictly’, repeatedly voted down by the public.

  • Tony Greaves 29th Dec '17 - 5:26pm

    It is a shame that Adonis appears to be talking in such old-fashioned terms. If he is not careful he will seriously split the anti-Brexit movement.

  • Yeovil Yokel 29th Dec '17 - 5:51pm

    Jonathan Reeve – I’ll second that. This time last year I was in Germany and was struck by the number of castles along the banks of the Mosel and Rhine, a testament to the way the Continent was racked for centuries by division and war. My great uncle (an Irishman) died in prolonged agony on the Somme in 1916, and my dad fought with the 8th Army in 1944-45 and witnessed the suffering of the Italian peasants. So let’s learn from our European ancestors and not relive their experiences. If that means having a degree of unity and sharing sovereignty with our neighbours that’s fine by me.

  • Graham Evans 29th Dec '17 - 7:20pm

    Strictly is not a dancing competition but an entertainment competition, even in many respects a popularity competition, as Ann Widdecombe and Judy Murray in earlier series demonstrated. If you don’t know the rules of the game you’re unlikely to win. Perhaps some LDs should reflect on this, rather than complaining about the result.

  • jayne mansfield 29th Dec '17 - 7:40pm

    @ Graham Evans,
    I am no longer a LD and I will continue to complain about the result.

  • I understand and agree with the motivation that underpins some of the views expressed here. However, within the EU we have the same influence as Malta. Outside of the EU we lose that tiny direct influence but as an independent nation and neighbour we will have more voice at the diplomatic level with the people in the EU responsible for foreign policy, defence and intelligence.

  • News Flash Adonis has just resigned his government appointment on infrastructure citing his opposition to Brexit.

  • nvelope2003 29th Dec '17 - 8:53pm

    Will the resignation of Adonis, announced about 3 hours ago, put a stop to his hugely costly HS2 project ?

  • Martin,

    I expect Adonis is referring to Macron’s push a few months ago for tighter rules on freedom of movement . Vince Cable in his reply to an open letter from members earlier this year
    made similiar observationsL:

    “I have observed that other member states impose restrictions on free movement. Germany, for example, restricts the free movement of professional staff. It seems entirely reasonable to look at ways through which the UK can remain within the single market – and, I hope, the European Union – but manages migration in a way that better deals with some of the real social impacts on local communities. I have suggested a variety of options, including restricting admission to those with jobs to come to. The failure to consider reforms of this kind may well have contributed to the Brexit vote.”

  • @nvelope2003 “Will the resignation of Adonis, announced about 3 hours ago, put a stop to his hugely costly HS2 project ?”

    We can live in hope, unfortunately, all the major political parties (including the Libdems) have been suckered into this vanity project, and like Brexit will potentially negatively react to being shown to be foolish and use their continued commitment to this pointless project as some form of virility symbol.

  • jayne mansfield 29th Dec '17 - 9:58pm

    I am interested in Andre Adonis’s ‘”troubling evidence’ about a recent ‘indefensible’ decision’ by the transport secretary Chris Grayling to change the East Coast franchise ,which he says puts hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money at risk

  • John Marriott 30th Dec '17 - 8:07am

    “To secure a referendum on stopping Brexit…” If those really are Vince Cable’s words, then count me out. By all means secure a referendum to vote on the ‘deal’; but don’t tell people how they should vote BEFORE you know what that deal is! Who knows? We might actually get a deal that the MAJORITY of people could live with. The will of the people? Don’t make the same arrogant mistake made by the remainers in the run up to the last referendum. Just remember the immortal words that Doris Day sang all those years ago.

    “Que será será, whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see que será será”

  • William Fowler 30th Dec '17 - 9:18am

    Well I hope the analysis by Lord Adonis is right but (and I get bored repeating it) the solution to the freedom of movement is UK reform of benefits/access to social housing etc is to make them residence dependent (at least five years) and to placate the great unwashed by making it retrospective so that foreigners in social housing would have to move to hostels, freeing up loads of housing for the natives. This would be the first time in their lives that they could see the govn actually listening to their complaints. And all perfectly legal under EU law as long as applied to UK citizens equally. And it would have to be done before a referendum not as a promise.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Dec '17 - 9:56am
  • @ W. Fowler “to placate the great unwashed”.

    In the words of the late Frank Carson, “It’s the way you tell ’em”, that demonstrates your innate Liberalism.

  • Jayne Mansfield: The East Coast franchise is to be terminated early and replaced by a different arrangement whereby the operator will be jointly responsible with the public sector Network Rail for the maintenance of the infrastructure (track and signalling). I expect that Virgin got the price wrong and this is a face saving way of letting them off the hook.

  • Jayne mansfield 30th Dec '17 - 11:29am

    Thank you for that information.

    I look forward to Andrew Adonis spilling the beans on how much it will cost the taxpayer to save Virgin’s face.

  • It is interesting that for centuries governments which were elected because of a promise to do certain things – for example Labour promised to reverse the Beeching railway closures but implemented almost all of them and reversed none – justified their actions on the grounds that circumstances had changed and this did not stop them being re elected. What is the difference if Parliament decided that the terms for leaving the EU were harmful to Britain’s economy and that the 2016 referendum vote should not be implemented because of this ?
    Parliament is sovereign as Messrs Rees-Mogg and co keep telling us so it has the absolute right to decide the issue on the basis of the evidence as it sees it and in the light of its knowledge and expertise.

  • Jayne Mansfield: I think the taxpayers will not receive the promised premiums as revenues “have not lived up to expectations”. This raises the whole question of why the Government should receive premiums at all. Surely provided the operator covers the whole cost of running the railway service they should only be required to pay the normal tax on any profits.

  • David Evans 30th Dec '17 - 1:00pm

    nvelope – It’s a rent and is rather common in commercial arrangements, as I am sure you know. The thing I don’t understand is why are you suggesting it should not be the same for something owned by the state (i.e. us)?

  • David Evans is right on this. Both Virgin and Stagecoach have benefitted from multi-billion pound governmentsubsidies to their rail franchises for decades. If, when the time comes to make a return to the state from the operation of these franchises, they can simply walk away, keeping all the profits and leaving the funding of the ongoing nvestment required to maintain services to the state, what is the point of these franchise agreements at all? They are effectively publcly funded operations and these companies should particpate only the basis of a management contract, not franchise owners/operators.

  • The East Coast rail franchise will be terminated three years early, avoiding the embarrassment of another private firm handing back the keys to the government but potentially forfeiting hundreds of millions in premiums due to the Treasury…..
    Under a rail strategy announced by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, a new partnership model will replace the franchise contract of Virgin Trains East Coast (Vtec)….
    The train operator, a joint venture led by Stagecoach with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, had pledged to pay £3.3bn to run the service until 2023 when it was re-privatised in 2015 after six years in public hands. Instead, Vtec is likely to pay a fraction of that sum…Expected growth in passenger numbers has not materialised and Virgin/Stagecoach has been seeking a bailout from the government. The firm has admitted it overpaid for the franchise,

    Adonis wrote: HMG is bailing out Stagecoach/Virgin on East Coast because they overbid. Franchise was due to end in 2023. HMG has now, incredibly, agreed to replace it by a ‘public private partnership’ (!) in 2020.

  • Jayne mansfield 30th Dec '17 - 4:59pm

    The private firm should be held to the terms of the contract.

    East Coast rail should be returned to the public ownership company that Andrew Adonis had in place.

  • Jayne mansfield 30th Dec ’17 – 4:59pm……….The private firm should be held to the terms of the contract….East Coast rail should be returned to the public ownership company that Andrew Adonis had in place…….

    C’mon, Jayne “Public bad; Private good” is Tory policy. However I agree with both sentences and the return to public should happen with the balance of the £3.3bn (that Virgin/Stagecoach agreed o run the service until 2023) being paid to the treasury..(BTW, in the first full year of operation, V/S paid only £204m…)

    As for their excuse that, “Due to the increase in passenger numbers not materialising the firm has admitted it overpaid for the franchise”…Hard bloody luck..That is not OUR problem..

  • Agree with Jayne & expats that the East Coast should be returned to the public sector. Indeed a petition has been set up (see The Guardian 27 December) to press for this.

    The shortfall of £ 3.3 billion which the Government will lose in its latest sweetheart deal amounts to more than the ‘special’ increase for the NHS in the last Budget – and interestingly enough the East coast line made an operating profit which it returned to the Treasury before privatisation.

  • JoeB
    These franchises just seem like the worse way to run anything, So why even bother with private management? Let the contracts lapse naturally. Take them back into public ownership and do the same with the water companies. There is no scope for real competition, plus they all seem to run expensive and poor services, anyway. Some things are natural monopolies.

  • Jayne mansfield 30th Dec '17 - 6:07pm

    The taxpayer will lose millions and Stagecoach shares jumped 12% at the news.

    Why aren’t Liberal Democrats ( save a few who I recognise as Liberal Democrats), angry?

  • 1 October, 2017. The Legatum and Populus opinion poll : The big four industries should all return to public ownership, according to a strong majority of respondents. Water topped the poll (83%), followed by electricity (77%), gas (77%) and the railways (76%).

    I share Jayne’s surprise that the Liberal Democrats don’t grasp this (popular) nettle as the franchises run out. I frequently use the East Coast line and staff often comment how morale plummetted when it was re-privatised – though – when I once chatted to the then Lib Dem MP for Berwick I was disappointed that he was far from enthusiastic.

  • I am afraid to say if the Lib Dems keep their obsession with a second EU referendum then we can say goodbye to be considered as a serious party.

  • nvelope2003 30th Dec '17 - 7:28pm

    David Evans: The premium payments are not rent. As I said in my earlier comment private firms should be required to pay all the costs, including track, signalling, station and terminal costs as well as the actual cost of running the trains. However, all commercial contracts, leases and other such agreements have clauses which allow either party to end the arrangement by giving notice and in the case of rail franchises forfeiting the bond they must pay to the Treasury before they can begin operations.

    David Raw: Yes I expect that opinion polls do suggest the general public would like everything nationalised but the problem was that when this happened before the public soon changed their minds as they seem to be doing with Brexit when reality dawns.
    I noticed that when actual passengers were interviewed recently they did not want the railways renationalised although under Grayling they have been effectively returned to state control and hence all the strikes like the ones we had under British Rail.

    When I asked an old hand why this was so he said the state did not understand how to deal with ordinary people but most private business people lived in the real world of give and take not diktat.

  • Glenn,

    I do agree that natural monopolies are best retained in state ownership and publically financed. However, there is no good reason (and many positive ones) that the state cannot outsource management of state assets to private contractors that specialise in in the provision of management services.
    Nationalisation does not have to involve operational delivery of services. Adequate oversight and holding to account when required can be just as effective.
    What we need to avoid is any kind of return to the industraial relations of the 1970/1980s as depicted in this economist article or a return to a large part of the industrial workforce being employed in the public sector and reliant on public subsidies for pay settlements.

  • @ nvelope “everything nationalised”. Don’t exaggerate.

  • JoeB 30th Dec ’17 – 7:38pm………………….or a return to a large part of the industrial workforce being employed in the public sector and reliant on public subsidies for pay settlements………..

    Considering that low paid workers in the PRIVATE sector have their wages subsidised by taxpayers it seems not much has changed………

  • Mark,

    the landing slot system used by airport owners might be a credible alternative to the rail franchising system, with the owner of the slots being the state in this case (not repeating the mistake of given slots away free to airport owners). Scrapping the long distance “intercity” franchises and replacing them with a time slot licensing system could introduce real competition for the first time and allow open access operators to run mainline services. Although open access operators run only a small fraction of services on the network at present, where they do fares tend to have reduced by around 30% compared with the fares previously charged by the monopoly franchise operators.
    Annual licensing of timeslots on the rail network allows the state to collect the economic rents arising from monopoly rail services for the public benefit.

  • @ Mark Valldares “in my view, care homes will be the next crisis of contracting out…”

    It has been for several years now, Mark. When I was Convenor for Social Care I well remember the Southern Cross crisis in 2010. I took it up with our Ministers in the Coalition Government. Result ? Nothing – austerity ruled.

    The BBC report below contains some disturbing facts about the impact of of current policies, and of course the current crisis with the US Hedge Fund owned Four seasons is extremely ominous. Radical policies on local government funding and ‘municipalisation’ are necessary. Have Lib Dems got the bottle to do it ?

    Care homes places ‘crisis’ in five years across England – BBC News
    4 Oct 2017 – Almost nine tenths of England faces a “crisis” in care home places within five years, new research suggests. … The analysis of care home data across England indicates 87% of local authorities will not have enough places to care for more people aged 80 and over. There were 407,000 …

  • Social care for the elderly :

    I should have added there is a growing crisis in care staffing. It will be exacerbated by Brexit in future recruitment. It’s a topsy turvy world when ‘Captains’ of Hedge Funds and Banks can ‘earn’ billions and the people who provide the most intimate end of life care are paid peanuts.

    Social care system ‘beginning to collapse’ as 900 carers quit every day …
    11 Apr 2017 – More than 900 adult social care workers a day quit their job in England last year,

  • Yeovil Yokel 31st Dec '17 - 10:12am

    Joe B, 31 Dec 1:25am – I’m fascinated by your idea of a ‘landing slot’ system replacing the current rail franchising system, could you explain how that might work in layman’s terms, please? How would it compare to the apparently well-run rail systems in Japan and much of Europe? (I sampled Deutsche Bahn this time last year and it was wunderbar!)
    By the way, I hear that HMG are looking for a new infrastructure adviser…..

  • @williamfowler there is already a 5-year residence requirement for access to state benefits, this applies to all EU nationals

  • Yeovil Yokel 31st Dec '17 - 11:06am

    Apologies, I should have used the term ‘laypeople’ instead, old habits die hard.

  • David Raw,

    I think you have answered your own question as to what needs to be done about social care funding – “Radical policies on local government funding and ‘municipalisation’ are necessary.”
    Local authorities and City Mayor’s need to have the ability to raise (and keep) taxes locally to fund adult and Children’s services (the larger part of their budgets), employ local people and invest in the development of care homes. A Land Value Tax on businesses and homes to replace non-domestic rates and council tax is how I would go about it.

  • Yoevil Yokel,

    I lived and worked in Tokyo for several years and used the subway and rail system daily. The Japanese National Railway was privatised in 1987 and has gone from a heavily subsidised loss making operation to a sleek and profitable enterprise.
    The Tokyo Metro system was privatised in 2005 and consists of an integrated network of private operators sharing lines and using an integrated ticketing system.
    The landing slot system is used by Airlines and often control of these slots are Airlines most valuable assets. When Monarch Airlines went bust last October there was a scramble by creditors to secure the best slices of airspace at particular times of day. These slots are valuable. Last year Air France-KLM sold a single daily landing and take-off slot at Heathrow for $75m to Oman Air. When British Airways was privatised the government gave away the slots for free to the private owners.
    Slots could be auctioned by the government for staggered periods of five or ten years or alternatively adopt a congestion pricing model in which operators pay more for access at busier times of the day. This is a form of Land Value Capture that retains the surplus income (over and above a reasonable return on operators capital) derived from state land and infrastructure for the public benefit and provides for investment in new infrastructure and upgrading of existing infrastructure.

  • JoeB 31st Dec ’17 – 1:23pm……….Local authorities and City Mayor’s need to have the ability to raise (and keep) taxes locally to fund adult and Children’s services (the larger part of their budgets), employ local people and invest in the development of care homes. A Land Value Tax on businesses and homes to replace non-domestic rates and council tax is how I would go about it………

    I disagree…Social services, be they adult or child related, are most prevalent in ‘poorer’ areas…To place the burden on them is unfair…
    Taxation at national level is the only answer…

  • @ expats Yes, and research into local authority funding shows that since 2010 Tory local authorities get a disproportionately amount of central government funding compared to the more needy authorities.

    Not sure whether the Lib Dem junior ministers in the department (Stunnell & Williams) protested to Eric Pickles – be interesting to know.

    Council spending cuts: the north loses out to the south | Society … › Society › Patrick Butler’s cuts blog
    11 Jan 2013 –

  • Expats,

    there are poorer areas in every major town and city in the country, not least London where the costs of delivering social services is among the highest. There are also equalisation mechanisms to transfer surplus taxes among different local authority districts/boroughs within an urban conurbation (like Greater London or Greater Manchester) and its surrounding areas. The effect is the same as redistribution of national taxes. Local taxation is already a devolved area within the UK. The next logical step is more devolution of powers to the English regions as part of the City deals program. Taking it out of national politics will put the power and responsibility to deliver local services where it belongs – in the hands of local communities.

  • nvelope2003 1st Jan '18 - 9:39am

    David Raw: I think many Corbynistas would like everything nationalised as that is essential to create the socialist society that they dream of and any remaining private firms might draw attention to any problems in running nationalised businesses which is why the RMT seems so determined to wreck the railways although they are not really private businesses in any meaningful sense since Grayling became Transport Secretary.
    Another good reason for ending state control of railways would be to get rid of people like him and Adonis who were only given the job as a sort of consolation prize because the post is not regarded as a prestge job. When you think what the others must be like the heart sinks. No wonder we are in such a mess.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Jan '18 - 9:31am

    If railway franchises were such a golden opportunity to make money why is that that so few bids are received – if Stage Coach/Virgin were banned from tendering there would only be First left as a major contender. It is no wonder that foreign state owned companies are the only ones interested as they do not have to make a profit and are using this as an opportunity to get experience of commercial operations in the run up to privatisation of their own networks.
    Having said that I think that the East Coast line should have been kept in the public sector so that we could make comparisons with the private sector routes and then decide which was best. In the case of the East Coast route this would have resulted in the state receiving no premiums at all so the £3 biilion would have been lost anyway.

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