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Daily View: Reviews of Vince Cable's speech

Clare Spencer | 09:23 UK time, Thursday, 23 September 2010

Vince Cable


Commentators evaluate business secretary Vince Cable’s speech to the Liberal Democrat conference.

In the Guardian Simon Hoggart dismisses the revolutionary elements hinted at before the speech:

“The speech had been billed as a ferocious attack on the whole notion of capitalism.It was no such thing. He did promise to do such things to the banks and the corporates as would be the terror of the Square Mile. But he said it in the manner of a local councillor who is determined to sort out that litter problem once and for all.”

In the Independent Steve Richards goes one step further to suggest Vince Cable has done No 10 a favour:

“Indeed the important point about Cable is the precise opposite to the one being implied in advance of his speech and afterwards. He supports the Cameron/Osborne plan to remove the deficit in a single parliament. Like his other Lib-Dem ministerial colleagues, he became a seemingly sudden convert over the weekend during which the Coalition talks were taking place and the election was safely over. Cable’s support is invaluable to Cameron/Osborne and even more so now that some believe he is a Communist. When the impatient rush to cut begins, Cameron, Osborne, and Clegg can cite the backing of the Coalition’s Che Guevara. At the Treasury they must be raising several glasses in gratitude.”

In the Daily Mail Stephen Glover apologetically agrees with Vince Cable’s attack on bankers but ultimately calls the speech “policy-light”:

“Yet although the Business Secretary was sound in his attack on bankers, he did not come up with any policies that might address the problems he had identified. There was a lot of posturing and mood music here. On the evidence of this speech, Vince Cable is far from being the visionary radical he would like to be.”

Janet Daley argues in the Telegraph that Vince Cable’s speech is trying to fulfil two separate goals which, she says, is nothing new:

“[W]hy should Mr Cable’s diatribe surprise anybody? The Lib Dems have always been prepared to say different (indeed, conflicting) things to different audiences. In council and by-elections they adapt their message to suit local exigencies to almost comic effect: comparing the campaign literature of their individual campaigns can be a source of either scandal or hilarity depending on the urgency of the circumstances. What is different now is that they are partners in government and their transparent opportunism is exposed on the national stage.”

The Independent’s Simon Carr suggests Vince Cable’s attack on bankers and capitalism is arguable:

“It ‘takes no prisoners’, he said. That’s true - but only when it’s allowed to work properly. Under capitalism, all those spivs and gamblers would have lost their homes and their pensions; their children would have been jerked out of school and they’d all be living in one room in sheltered accommodation. It was politicians who paid off their debts as long as they really promised not to do it again.”

Tom Clark says in the Guardian Vince Cable gave a speech that Nick Clegg could, and should, have given:

“Above all he succeeded - where Clegg singularly failed - in showing the Lib Dem faithful how they can maintain their distinctive identity in the unfamiliar settings of coalition government. It is the thing they most fear losing, and the one way to protect it is to show that they can still fight on both fronts, as they always did before.”

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