Scotland politics

Vince Cable: Lib Dems 'restrain' Tories

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Media captionVince Cable on how his party has "stopped" Tories' making "offensive" policies in Scotland

Business Secretary Vince Cable has said the Liberal Democrats are "restraining" the Conservatives in government.

In a BBC interview, the Lib Dem MP claimed his party had stopped their coalition partners pursuing many Thatcherite policies, which he said had caused "revulsion" in the 1980s.

Mr Cable was in Scotland to address the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.

Labour and the SNP attacked Mr Cable for leaving out the sections of his speech attacking the Tories.

Political difference

His comments had been released to the media ahead of his speech but were not delivered.

Mr Cable, one of the most senior Lib Dems in the coalition government, earlier told BBC Scotland: "We're making a very significant difference politically, by restraining what a Tory government would have done on its own.

"For example, lifting large numbers of low earners out of tax, reversing Mrs Thatcher's measure of de-linking pensions from earnings.

"These are big achievements, that we've been able to do at a UK level, and I think people in Scotland will recognise that we're actually greatly improving the results of the government, as a result of our being part of it."

However, Mr Cable's speech in Edinburgh did not include his reference to the "negative side of Thatcherism, such as the Poll Tax, mass unemployment and the claims that there was no such thing as society", which had been pre-released to the media and on Twitter.

Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray said: "Clearly Nick Clegg tried to stop Vince Cable making this speech because it is an astonishing attack on his coalition partners.

"He is clearly uncomfortable with the government of which he is a senior member, as are former Lib Dem voters who feel increasingly let down."

The Scottish National Party's Michael Russell said: "This is a complete shambles by the Lib Dems.

"All that Vince Cable has succeeded in doing is portray the Tories as the nasty party, and destroy what remained of Lib Dem credibility in Scotland by continuing to prop them up in government at Westminster."

A Scottish Conservatives source said of Mr Cable's comments: "They are clearly desperate for attention and getting more desperate for votes."

Speaking after the Edinburgh event, Mr Cable was asked to give his view on comments by Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott on the BBC's Politics Show.

Mr Scott said he was not "particularly comfortable" with his party's links with the Tories at Westminster.

Mr Cable indicated he did not believe the party's role in the coalition would have a damaging impact on its chances at the Scottish election.

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