Vince dreams of growing relationship with Ed

Ed Balls and Vince Cable

You've seen it in the movies. Just as the happy couple are celebrating you discover that one of them has been firing off love letters to somebody else.

In politics it is often safer to declare your intentions in public than in a secret letter or text.

So it was that last night - on the eve of the coalition's day of celebrating the latest growth figures - the business secretary began to woo Labour.

Vince began to turn away from George and start to woo Ed instead. He did it in an unlikely forum - a speech to the Royal Economics Society at the Bank of England - and didn't let the cameras in to record his words.

First Vince Cable warned that this was an economic recovery but, as they use to say in Star Trek, not as we know it.

The shape of the recovery so far had not been all we might have hoped for. Exports were still too weak and the trade balance had deteriorated as import demand had outstripped export demand

Next Mr Cable suggested that borrowing and spending did not have to fall in the next parliament as George Osborne suggests.

There were different ways of finishing the job - the totals set out in the Office for Budget Responsibility did not reflect anything concrete as yet. Not all required the pace and scale of cuts set out by the chancellor.

And they could allow public spending to stabilise or grow in the next parliament, while still getting the debt burden down

Then he repeated his criticism of the chancellor's mortgage subsidies and called for "a massive and rapid increase in house construction", arguing: "There is a happy precedent in the 1930s, when house building shot up from 130,000 in 1931 to 300,000 in 1934."

Now, of course, Mr Cable was very careful to praise the coalition's efforts to tackle the deficit and to criticise Labour for its plan to freeze energy prices. This was a speech he could defend in Downing Street and many of whose key points he toned down in a TV interview.

Make no mistake, though, Vince is dreaming of life with a new partner, even as George has the champagne on ice to celebrate their success together.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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