What makes Vince Cable angry?

Journal of Liberal History cover Sept 2016I know when my Journal of Liberal History arrives that it will contain interesting, well researched, evidence based assessments and accounts of Liberal Democrat, Liberal and SDP activities.

The Conference issue of this quarterly publication has just arrived and it looks at the record of the Liberal Democrats in coalition. Unlike last year’s Conference issue, which looked at the coalition as a whole, this takes a detailed look at individual policy areas. Economic policy, social security, health and social care, education, constitutional reform, home affairs and climate and energy come under the microscope.

Each policy area has 3 or 4 articles. First an analytical piece giving an overview of each area is then reviewed by a former minister or minsters and a more critical party member.  Jo Swinson, Lynne Featherstone, Norman Lamb, Chris Huhne, Sir Vince Cable, Paul Burstow, David Laws, Jenny Willott, Ed Davey, William Wallace and Norman Baker all contribute.

Most ministers acknowledge that the overall analysis is fair, although there is a bit of a literary punch up between David Laws and Simon Griffiths, who wrote the Education section. Even Helen Flynn, who wrote the critical view felt that Griffiths had been unfair in leaving out several areas of Lib Dem achievement. We find out what continues to make Vince Cable angry. Which Tory policy, blocked by the Lib Dems, was described as “bonkers” by a Liberal Democrat Minister.

I wrote the critical commentary on the home affairs section. Regular readers will be aware that I am not a particular fan of the Home Office and I did give it, and the Liberal Democrats, the pasting they deserve for not making the immigration and asylum system humane. Certainly there were limits to what 20% of ministers could do, but we agreed some measures that should never have had our name on them.

This edition shows marked improvement in gender balance of contributors. I know that the editorial team have made significant efforts to find more women and to try to recruit more to their Editorial Board. Last year’s coalition special had female contributors on only 4 of 84 pages – only Lynne Featherstone and I. This issue is much better with 7 women out of 27 contributors. It is really important to have women’s perspectives on our history. If you have something you want to write about, please get in touch with the JLH team via their website. 

If you are at Conference, you can pick up a copy of this Journal for £10 at their stand. I always find that I come away with a few pamphlets as well because they are all so interesting. Also available will be their new book British Liberal Leaders: Leaders of the Liberal Party, SDP and Liberal Democrats since 1828.

If you are not at Conference, you can buy this issue or subscribe to the Journal here.

Both this and last year’s issue are fantastic resources on the Coalition’s record. I wonder what we’ll think, though, if we read them again in 5 or 10 years’ time. My hunch is that we will look a great deal more favourably on the Liberal Democrats’ time in government than we do now.

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

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One Comment

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Sep '16 - 1:28pm

    Caron, a very good piece, well done!

    I know you and others on LDV team, are criticised a lot by some , for the positive comments regularly made on here about the coalition and the leadership of Nick Clegg, they miss where you and your colleagues have also been critical too.There are very many of us who take a similar stance to yours and approach it in that way , very well aware of the mistakes made , too.

    As the late , great Bing Crosby sang in one of his vintage recordings , “You ‘ve got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative , latch on to the affirmative, but don’t mess with Mr. Inbetween !”

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