Leader: Serious questions for Cable
WHAT are we to make of Vince Cable’s speech to the Liberal Democrat conference yesterday, in which he described Conservative right-wingers as “headbangers” and “backwoodsmen”?
It could be a serious political attack on parts of the Conservative party with whom he is in coalition, but with which he has ideological disagreements. It might be a signal that he was really on the political left and would prefer to be coalescing with Labour. Or it might just be political knock-about, trying to deflect criticism of the coalition by shamelessly playing to the gallery. As with most politicians, the Business Secretary’s remarks probably contain a mixture of motives, but when the laughter has died down, there are some important questions for Mr Cable.
If he is so appalled by the Right in the Tory party why did he and his colleagues agree to the coalition in the first place?
Second, if he is more comfortable on the Left, why did the Lib Dems not try to make a more serious attempt to come to an agreement with Labour after the last election?
Beyond these, however, there is a more fundamental point that Mr Cable’s speech raises. He maintained there would be a hung parliament after the next election and Lib Dems would have a central role to play.
Given the party’s betrayal of its pledge not to introduce student tuition fees in England – a U-turn which Mr Cable has implemented – such an assertion is little more than hubristic self-delusion.
The likelihood is that such is voters’ contempt for the Lib Dems they will have so few MPs in the next parliament they will have little or no influence on the formation of the government.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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