If Sir Vince Cable doesn’t come across as the kind of inspirational figure who will have voters flocking back to the Liberal Democrats, it’s worth asking who exactly would be. There was no stampede of contenders after Tim Farron’s unexpected resignation.
It’s possible to draw a parallel with the elevation of Sir Menzies Campbell – another knight – to the post of party leader after the sad resignation of another younger man, Charles Kennedy.
Sir Menzies was held in high regard, but was said to lack appeal among younger voters – and at that time, he was nine years younger than Sir Vince is today.
But the new leader arrives at a good time to be in office. With the Conservatives and Labour taking up clear positions on the right and the left at Westminster, there is opportunity in the centre ground. And for those who are disaffected with Theresa May’s government, it is a long way to travel to sign up for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
With the party’s membership already at record levels, there is an opportunity for the veteran Sir Vince to make the Lib Dems relevant once again on the UK stage.