Who should be the Lib Dem shadow chancellor in 2015 – Vince or Danny? Here’s what Lib Dem members think…

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

ldv vince danny

Currently the Lib Dems do not have a shadow chancellor. Vince Cable held the role in 2010. Danny Alexander has been chief secretary to the treasury for the past four years. Who do you think should represent the Lib Dems in the ‘Ask the Chancellors’ televised debate during the 2015 general election campaign?

    24% – Danny Alexander

    65% – Vince Cable

    5% – Someone else

    5% – Don’t know

By an overwhelming 65% to 24% Lib Dem members want Vince Cable rather than Danny Alexander to represent the party on the economy at the next general election. Among the small number of those who opted for someone else, David Laws was the single most popular choice, with Steve Webb also mentioned.

I’m not going to feign neutrality on this one: I think my fellow party members have called this exactly right. As I wrote of Vince many months ago:

He is, by a long, long way, the best-qualified candidate. I say that for two reasons.

First, his understanding of the British economy far exceeds that of either Danny (or Steve [Webb]). It is impossible to imagine anyone other than Vince writing as good and nuanced an account of the Coalition’s economic policies as he did last year in the New Statesman: When the facts change, should I change my mind?

Secondly, his understanding of the politics far exceeds that of Danny (though not necessarily Steve). Vince has walked the tightrope of respecting collective cabinet responsibility while signalling quite clearly when and why he disagrees with the Conservatives, most notably on immigration.

That’s what I think. Here’s a sample of your comments…

• This is very important. It is quite plain that Vince is the more trusted and credible figure.
• Danny is too close to the coalition. We need Vince to show our independence in the debates.
• Danny Alexander might be a nice bloke but he’s simply poor with the media. He’s lost the debate before it’s begun.
• Vince will sell our values much better because Danny does not come over well on TV.
• Clearly Vince. It has to be.
• I don’t know who, but I do not believe Danny Alexander can credibly debate with George Osborne, nor do I feel he has particularly stood up to him enough in his position to be able to robustly argue against the proposed Tory direction of spending. I do not think Vince Cable has the credibility left following the post office sell off.
• Danny Alexander has done a brilliant job not least on the `No Thanks’ debate.
• Danny Alexander has drunk the treasury kool aid. He cannot seriously be put forward to debate on the key issue of the economy. Also on TV he looks like an automaton.
• I’m afraid Danny is not a great spokesperson and although Vince has been attached to some bad moves (Royal Mail etc), he’s still a great steady, economic hand and is seen to be a true Liberal
• Only Vince has the experience required and the public support needed to fill this role
• Cambridge Liberal Democrats were assured during the leadership debate by those close to the leadership that it was looking extremely likely that Vince would be appointed. This was used as a sign that the leadership were listening to members and that change was possible without the need for Nick to go. This swung a lot of people behind the leadership in the debate – it was a concrete example of the leadership being prepared to listen. The silence on Vince’s appointment since then has been deafening.
• Danny has the looks, but Vince has the experience.
• Danny Alexander knows more about the Treasury portfolio than anyone else in the party, so he is surely the obvious choice.
• It is a ‘no brainer’. Alexander does not have the confidence of the party or the breadth or depth of knowledge. It would be an outrageous case of cronyism
• Vince is a good economist and he still is quite liked by the public.

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 735 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 12th and 16th September.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
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  • * Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    15 Comments

    • It is a question of who speaks with the greater authority. With so many other issues with the impending election, we should not be wasting time over this one when the answer is so obvious.

    • paul barker 6th Oct '14 - 10:41am

      I voted for Danny but I am a democrat so it looks like it has to be Vince.

    • Will Nick abandon and humiliate his closest ally?

    • Grand old man of Liberal Democrat economics or the rabbit in the headlights of the TV studios on election night in May?

      Not much of a contest really. The evidence of Danny’s car crash TV performance in May indicates that he cannot cope under fire. I am sure he is a nice bloke and everything. He is probably a very good constituency MP. But if we had more MPs — would he even make the front bench? He is only in this ministerial job because he was Clegg’s chum and because Laws was caught with his fingers in the till. Paddy Ashdown talks about Liberal Democrats being too bloody nice. The appointment of Danny Alexander to any front line position in an election campaign would be an example of being far, far too bloody nice.

    • As there is no serious prospect of the Liberal Democrats forming a government as a result of the next election, why should there be a Lib Dem in any debate at all?

    • David-1
      Your underlying assumption is totally against democracy. Saying that the voters should only hear the views of people who the media decide are “likely to be in government” restricts democracy to a two party carve up in perpetuity
      it is scandalous how for example in England, The Green Party, who have councillors, MEPs and an MP have been airbrushed out of political coverage by the BBC and Murdoch media alike.
      With the Liberal Democrats at 6% in the polls one might argue that Nick Clegg should only be interviewed or appear in TV election coverage as often as The Greens on 5%.

      Mind you that might help the Liberal Democrats. The disappearance of Legg from our TV screens might be a bonus.

      At the moment I am watching live on TV the conference ‘question and answer’ session with Clegg.
      “What is the point???”. He appears on the stage in his “dress down Friday” gear — open neck dark coloured shirt, no cuff links or tie, all smiles and chit-chat. All stage managed and chummy. For what? To let voters believe he is “just an ordinary guy”? Everyone knows this rich kid who was fast-tracked to the leadership is anything but a regular guy. He is the least trusted pollitician in the UK. No amount of image manipulation will alter that. How does this help promote the party to the voters?

      It does not provide any real element of accountability within the party because Clegg has the last word on every question, speaks down to the conference from the rostrum and has a huge advantage over the mere mortals asking their very brief questions. The questioner can ask a one sentence question — Clegg can speak at length. He can chose to misinterpret questions, to waffle, to go for the cheap one-liners etc. He can be confident that some amongst the “audience” will clap even his most trite remarks. But who outside of the conference hall is impressed by this sort of thing? The whole spectacle is to my mind a complete waste of conference time.

      With the party on extinction ratings in the opinion polls one might regard this is as displacement activity.

    • @JohnTilley – I would be very happy to disappear from TV screens, if only because then I’d be on them…..

    • Sorry Keith Legg but my I-pad constantly turns “Clegg” into “Legg”.

      Does anyone else have this problem?

      Is it just my I-pad. (and the vast majority of voters) that seems to have something against Clegg ??

    • Tony Rowan-Wicks 7th Oct '14 - 12:10pm

      Just announced by the Guardian that Danny Alexander will be the economics spokesman. NC makes one last swipe at someone the country can get behind and approves pseudo-tory thinking. Seems the comments above have spotted the Tory-Lite movement correctly and the liberal left will move more to support Labour in the GE. The balance of the Party is now thrown into the air!

    • Eddie Sammon 8th Oct '14 - 4:35pm

      The IMF have finally said some sense and repeated my warning from the other day:

      “period of ultra-low interest rates poses fresh financial crisis threat” and that it is encouraging speculation.

      It is the second time an IMF economist has said the opposite to Christine Lagarde, who isn’t an economist. Importantly, this is why Vince is not suitable for the economic portfolio, because he lobbied the Bank of England against increasing rates and likes borrowing too much.

      Danny is the best choice, but he needs to improve his fundamentals, unless he recently has. Extremely low interest rates incentivise borrowing rather than saving.

      http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/08/imf-low-interest-rates-financial-crisis-threat-speculation

    • Eddie
      You don’t like Christine Lagarde who the FT rated as the best Finance Minister in Europe.
      But you are full of praise for Danny Alexander whose only job outside politics was to be a Spoksperson for Cairngorms National Park.

      Surely some mistake????

    • Eddie Sammon 8th Oct '14 - 6:06pm

      John Tilley, Christine Lagarde lobbies the central banks to print money to give to the private banks. I don’t like it and twice I’ve seen her slapped down by economists within the IMF. The OECD also disagree with her. She doesn’t have an economics qualification and seemingly isn’t listening to anyone besides the banks. Mark Carney also disagrees with her.

      I feel that I can get through to Danny, but people like Christine calling for radical policies that “coincidently” make the banks lots of money annoy me.

    • Eddie Sammon
      You say that Christine Lagarde has no economics qualification but the IMF website says this which I think is impressive, don’t you?—
      Born in Paris in 1956, Christine Lagarde completed high school in Le Havre and attended Holton Arms School in Bethesda (Maryland, USA). She then graduated from law school at University Paris X, and obtained a Master’s degree from the Political Science Institute in Aix en Provence.
      After being admitted as a lawyer to the Paris Bar, Christine Lagarde joined the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie as an associate, specializing in Labor, Anti-trust, and Mergers & Acquisitions. A member of the Executive Committee of the Firm in 1995, Christine Lagarde became the Chairman of the Global Executive Committee of Baker & McKenzie in 1999, and subsequently Chairman of the Global Strategic Committee in 2004.
      Christine Lagarde joined the French government in June 2005 as Minister for Foreign Trade. After a brief stint as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, in June 2007 she became the first woman to hold the post of Finance and Economy Minister of a G-7 country. From July to December 2008, she also chaired the ECOFIN Council, which brings together Economics and Finance Ministers of the European Union.
      As a member of the G-20, Christine Lagarde was involved in the Group’s management of the financial crisis, helping to foster international policies related to financial supervision and regulation and to strengthen global economic governance. As Chairman of the G-20 when France took over its presidency for the year 2011, she launched a wide-ranging work agenda on the reform of the international monetary system.
      In July 2011, Christine Lagarde became the eleventh Managing Director of the IMF, and the first woman to hold that position.
      Christine Lagarde was named Officier in the Légion d’honneur in April 2012.

    • Eddie Sammon 8th Oct '14 - 6:35pm

      Hi John, she is a member of the centre-right UMP and her policies have seemed centre-right to me, but that isn’t my main problem, I just think it’s dishonest to print money and give it to the rich, which is what she has been doing.

      She might have toughened regulation, but I just hate it when people say printing money is “pro growth”. It’s nonsense.

    • Allan Heron 10th Oct '14 - 9:26am

      A quick comparision between their conference speeches makes perfectly clear that Danny is a poor performer. He’s also proven by previous appearances to be slow thinking once he’s run out of script to parrot.

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