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The Guardian: In praise of … Vincent Cable

Friday November 30, 2007

This is Vincent Cable’s moment. The Liberal Democrats’ acting leader has shown himself to be one of the classiest politicians in the Commons since he had to step into Sir Menzies Campbell’s shoes without warning last month. While the two contenders for the party leadership have been squabbling, their temporary stand-in has performed with authority and intellectual independence.

His dry wit won at prime minister’s questions this week, but all his recent Commons performances have been first rate, starting with his response to the pre-budget report, which he dismantled with the confidence of an informed economist. More than any other MP he has grasped the causes of the Northern Rock crisis and has set out a considered response, calling for it to be nationalised to protect the taxpayer from “City spivs”. He has been warning of the risks of housing debt for years.

At a time when many MPs are party hacks, Mr Cable has real experience: as treasury finance officer for the Kenya government in the 1960s, as John Smith’s special adviser in the 1970s, as a Labour councillor and contributor to Gordon Brown’s Red Paper on Scotland, and as chief economist of Shell Oil.

A ballroom dancer who can waltz, foxtrot, tango, quickstep, rumba, samba, jive and rock’n’roll, Mr Cable first ran for parliament in 1970 and might have thrived as a Labour MP. Instead he took his liberal belief in free trade and fairness to the Lib Dems. Whoever wins the race to replace him will struggle to do half as well. Perhaps he should simply keep the job.,,2219657,00.html and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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