Under scrutiny

Your editorial (25 September) is correct to query Vince Cable’s intentions in his courting of the Liberal Democrat conference, and David Maddox reminds us that Cable is happy to let Nick Clegg take all the flak for the apology over their electioneering pledge on student fees despite it being the policy of Cable’s Business Department.

But Cable does seem to admit the pledge was wrong (a bribe?), just as he admitted after the election that his pre-election assertion that an increase in VAT to 20 per cent would cost everyone an extra £400 per annum was unwise (false?).

He has also been loud in rhetoric over bankers’ pay for more than four years now, but despite his position as Business Secretary for over two years, very limited in effective action.

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He recently complained the government had no industrial strategy, again despite its being his responsibility! He now means to set up a new bank to support SMEs – having just sold Northern Rock, which could have done just that.

His colleague, Danny Alexander, also now admits his own doubts when signing the pledge, and seems to have forgotten the demands he made in July 2010 that most departments must make savings of 25 per cent to 40 per cent.

He is also instrumental (albeit with Francis Maude) in the botched reform of public sector pensions.

Clegg himself indulges in “petulant” behaviour (Lord Steel’s word) over the so-called link between his ludicrous Lords reform proposals and fair constituency sizes, and promises to throw more toys out of 
his pram by withdrawing 
support for any further moves towards sanity in our public expenditure without some sort of wealth tax, which will inevitably involve unfair anomalies and spawn an increase in both HMRC and professional tax-avoidance staff.

And that’s only the top three of the Lib Dem ministers. They surely deserve your editorial’s conclusion.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews