Vince talks about his new novel and other things at the Edinburgh Book Festival

I failed miserably when it came to getting Book Festival tickets this year. Starting a new job on the day the tickets came out meant that there were none left by the time I was able to look them up.

Sadly that meant that I missed Vince Cable’s session on his new book, Open Arms, which will be published on 7th September, so you’ll have to rely on the accounts of others.

Susan Mansfield in the Scotsman says he was a congenial Book Festival guest:

“I’m proud of the book, and I wish I’d done it earlier,” Cable said. His protagonist is an “independent-minded” female Conservative MP who becomes a Cabinet minister. “When I was a Cabinet minister, the two things that kept me sane were my weekly dancing lesson and having a pile of novels by the bed.”

 He made for a congenial Book Festival guest, free from the bluster and bombast of many in his line of work. Whether talking about his book, or about wider political issues, he was thoughtful and considered. Predictably enough, the conversation quickly left the novel behind.
On Brexit, Cable offered hope to remainers, saying there is a “significant possibility” that it might not happen. With Corbyn’s Labour Party “on the same page” as the Conservatives with regard to a hard Brexit, he hoped that rebels from both main parties could join forces with the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, and “the thing could unravel”.

In the Independent, he is quoted as saying that the book is “less discreet” than it might have been had he thought he would resume his career:

Sir Vince, who was speaking about his new political thriller Open Arms, admitted he had not anticipated the renewal of his political career when penning the book.

He said: “I thought the chances of my getting back into parliament, let alone becoming the leader of my party, were rather remote. So the book is perhaps less discreet than it should be.”

However, there are areas, thankfully, where discretion has been observed.

There is a relationship and there is a man and a woman and they fall in love and so on, but there were some politicians who slightly spoilt their reputation by being a bit crude in that area. There was a novel by Edwina Currie I think went down that road, and it doesn’t. It is quite discreet.

The Times (£) has a go because he doesn’t mention the Lib Dems very often. You can imagine what they would say if there was a Lib Dem saving the day on every page.

“I didn’t put them [the Liberal Democrats] in the novel in quantity,” he said. “They weren’t marginal in the book because I think they are marginal,” he pleaded. “Please don’t misinterpret their absence.”

A scan of Sir Vince’s novel reveals four mentions, in passing, of his party in the first 200 pages, a quick flurry in the middle referring to a Labour councillor’s crusade against them, and one more mention in the next 150 pages.

His casting of the party that he now leads into the wilderness after a swift reversal in his own political fortunes has highlighted the pitfalls that await politicians who turn to fiction. Or literary fiction to be precise.

Open Arms by Vince Cable is published on 7 September and is available for pre-order all over the place. Here is the link to it on Waterstone’s.


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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Richard Underhill 20th Aug '17 - 11:38am

    ” some politicians who slightly spoilt their reputation by being a bit crude in that area. There was a novel by Edwina Currie I think went down that road” What do you mean “Slightly”?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 20th Aug '17 - 2:11pm

    Interesting that Vince has chosen to set his novel in a post brexit Britain!

  • Richard Underhill 20th Aug '17 - 10:27pm

    “A candidate should be wise and mature in behaviour, sober and not an excessive eater, not proud, not apt to give offence, nor inclined to cause trouble, not unpunctual, nor wasteful”
    Rule of Benedict.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Aug '17 - 11:39am
    The electoral reform society is quoted by the BBC as saying that in the “hold your nose election”. “Tactical voting reached a new peak as voters tried to get round the failed system of First Past The Post” “6.5 million people voted tactically rather than for what they believed in”. They prefer the system used for Holyrood elections, which is a mixture / balance of FPTP and party list proportional representation.
    The Single Transferable Vote is better, as the late Enid Lakeman explained, so the conclusion of the ERS is disappointing. Maybe they are thinking about the attitudes of other parties, but the Scottish Labour Party agreed to STV for local government in Scotland, so the voters in Scotland must be used to it by now. It is also used at three levels in Northern Ireland and at all levels in the Republic of Ireland, which has had a referendum on the issue in which Enid campaigned, winning.
    STV provides a direct link between the voter and the elected member, which is also proclaimed as a benefit of FPTP. Conservatives trusted their MPs to use STV “a sophisticated electorate”, but, given three candidates after Mrs Thatcher resigned, two of them (Michael Heseltine and Douglas Hurd) withdrew after the first round, leaving John Major as the winner. Tories claim STV is too complicated, but it is as simple as 1,2,3.

  • jayne Mansfield 21st Aug '17 - 11:13pm

    Karen, Karen,
    Please could you discuss something relevant, for example , Sarah Champion’s comments on grooming of underage children.

    Why are the Liberal Democrats so shy of discussing the plight of the voiceless?

    I don’t give a sh-t about Sir Vince’s book.

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