Liberal Democrat conference: Not what I expected of Vince Cable

 

Vince Cable's full speech to the Liberal Democrat conference

Vince Cable didn't quite deliver as expected.

Last year the Business Secretary played to the Lib Dem gallery with a populist speech that depicted capitalism as brutal and dismissed bankers as "spivs and gamblers".

We expected more of the same this year, but we didn't get it. There were a few more swipes at bankers and society's inequalities but it didn't sound as if his heart was in it.

His much-trailed plans to curb executive pay failed to live up to their billing: it amounted to no more than consultation and getting the former boss of Rolls-Royce to investigate. Nothing very radical is likely to come of that and Lib Dem activists regarded it all as a bit of a damp squib.

The Cable speech was notable nevertheless, for its grim assessment of our current economy predicament.

Grey skies

He said we were in the "economic equivalent of war", in which the US economy had "stalled" and the condition of the Eurozone was "dire". As for Britain, he saw no respite in the foreseeable future.

He could offer no "sunny uplands", he said, only "grey skies".

You can regard all this as laying it on a bit thick - nobody ever mistook Mr Cable for a ray of sunshine - or unvarnished economic realism.

Andrew Neil reports from the Liberal Democrat conference gauging the mood of delegates

But if he's right the political consequences for the Lib Dems have yet to dawn here in Birmingham.

The hope was always to get the pain out of the way and hit the next election with the deficit tamed, a growing economy and rising living standards.

But if the economy really is in the tank, as Mr Cable says, then even with an election still four years away the coalition could already be running out of time to reach the sunny uplands by 2015.

If it's grey skies for the foreseeable future the Lib Dems poll ratings, currently languishing at 11%, are unlikely to improve.

Indeed you wouldn't rule out them getting worse. But nobody here in Birmingham, where the Lib Dems are in quite a chipper mood, wants to contemplate that.

 
Andrew Neil, Presenter, The Daily Politics and Sunday Politics Article written by Andrew Neil Andrew Neil Daily and Sunday Politics

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    The trouble is that either the liberals or Vince Cable are still behind the curve...this will require a Government of National Unity to sort out...what is needed is more projects like the centralisation of the emergency services into regional centres...imagine how much money was pumped into the economy...with loads of money going to the 'consultants'...middle class speech for the mostly unemployed

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2.

    Andrew,

    what is expected soon is the Four Horsemen to come over the horizon...I think that few really want to say just how dire the situation actually is...this is the First Great Global Depression...the Great Depression of the Thirties will be as nothing compared to this...mainly because there will be no Global War to bale out the economies...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 3.

    Do I spot some literary inspiration from P G Wodehouse?:

    "It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine."

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    Echoing Catch 22's point - we made this film www.fourhorsemenfilm.com we all need to get involved with this debate - it's too serious to be left to politicians.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 5.

    3 steven clarke
    I think you are mixing up the contents
    of your outhouse with your Wodehouse.

    (sorry, as a Scot I couldn't resist that one)

 

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