Coffee House

Vince Cable breaks his silence

26 May 2014

4:36 PM

26 May 2014

4:36 PM

Vince Cable, definitely not in the Team Nick camp, has finally broken his silence from a trade visit in China to defend his colleague. In the past few minutes the Business Secretary has released this statement:

‘These were exceptionally disappointing results for the party. Many hard working Liberal Democrats, who gave this fight everything they had and then lost their seats, are feeling frustrated and disheartened and we all understand that.

‘Nick did a bold thing in standing up to the eurosceptic wave which has engulfed much of continental Europe. We are the only party to have taken that on and he personally deserves tremendous credit for that. There is no leadership issue. We have also undoubtedly taken a kicking for being in government with the Conservatives and having to take some extremely tough decisions in the national interest.

‘But now is not the time for infighting and introspection. The party must hold its nerve. We must focus on delivering our policies in government and that’s exactly what I’m doing in China, helping British businesses secure contracts with the world’s fastest growing economy.’

Of course the question is when is the ‘time for infighting and introspection’? When it comes to infighting, of those with the fiercest burning ambition to lead the Liberal Democrats would not want a leadership contest now anyway when the party is so close to the general election. Far better to blame Clegg for failing to save his party after the 2015 result, and then come in as the saviour candidate.


But isn’t a humiliating defeat in which the former traditional party of protest in this country is overtaken not just by Ukip but the Greens in the European elections precisely the right sort of time for a bit of introspection and soul-searching? Better now than after the General Election. Even those who think the campaign within the party against Clegg would like more discussion of the party’s strategy.

But Cable and Tim Farron are the two figureheads for the faction in the party who do want Clegg’s head. With both of them pledging loyalty to the leader, the coup that some are agitating for will struggle to gain momentum.


Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Golben Amduke

    More interesting will be the Labour Party reaction to the UKIP victory. Harriet Harman tried the “people are giving us a kicking” line but really meant that she needs to shout the existing line more loudly so people can understand it. So expect some trimming to the right on immigration and a few drably wonkspeak statements from Miliband akin to his Euro referendum pledge (something like “we will crack down on immigration if and only if immigration proves to be a problem”).

    The problem with that is the Labour cannot get any traction with UKIp switchers on immigration. If there are enough in Labour marginals, what are the chances of a Con-UKIP alliance (at least a confidence and supply one).

  • Andrew Smith

    I’m no lib dem fan. But this was all to be expected. Government brings unpopularity, especially when the party proves themselves to be unfocussed and ineffective. They will either revert to a party of protest or learn from their mistakes and become an effective political force.

  • HookesLaw

    Where the LDs have gone wrong was elaborated in Cable’s phase ‘in government with the conservatives’. He seeks to blame the tories not his own parties ineptness.
    They have constantly sought to undermine their own government and are surprised to go down with it.
    I don’t have much time for Clegg and to be fair the longer you see him in govt the more useless he looks, but I’ve always thought the attacks on him a bit overdone. However in terms of his party’s performance in these elections it must all be down to him.
    He was so big headed as to go out of his way to give Farage easy publicity and came out looking worse than he went in. Bad judgement and bad performance. I doubt his party ever recovered as a result. He is making a failure of showing off the LDs in govt and failed totally in promoting his party’s usp.

    • rtj1211

      The attacks on Clegg started in July 2010 and continued unabated for 3 years on the whole Party.

      I fervently hope that the same happens to the Labour Party and the Conservative Party and it is about time that the paid trolls were identified, exposed and put in stocks……..

      • Grey Wolf

        Some are right here on this website – HookesLaw, Telemachus, KittyMLB…

    • Kitty MLB

      Very well said Hooky. There mantra has always been ‘ we stopped the Tories’
      Opposition whilst in government, it just shows how unsuitable they are for
      government and how treacherous. It was always party before country with
      them. And as for those dinosaurs Cable and Farron, The Lib Dems would
      have never got as far as they did, if those two were the faeces of that party.

      • Grey Wolf

        ”It was always party before country with them.”

        You could say that about most mainstream politicians. Stop drinking Kool-Aid.

    • Grey Wolf

      Stop blathering.

      The contemporary Tories and effete Lib Dems are in coalition because there isn’t any significant difference between on big issues of the day – EU, globalism, mass immigration, focus on London elite, political correctness.

  • 70sgirly

    Nick Clegg had 2 hours of prime time TV to convince us how wonderful the EU is and how grateful we should be for all the benefits that it bestows on the British people.

    We weren’t convinced, so we voted UKIP.

    • rtj1211

      Actually less than 30% voted UKIP, which means that 70%+ didn’t.

      Most definitions of the UK electorate would define it as rather wider than your ‘we’…….

      • Penny

        Well, yes, I see your point. But had the UK electorate been very much in favour of the EU, the LibDems – the most pro-European party on the ballot paper – would have done a great deal better than they did.

    • Gary Wintle

      But Clegg is a rubbish debater and politician. He’s weak and despised so hardly the man for the job.

  • sfin

    If I were the UKIP hierarchy, I would be magnanimous in nearly wiping the LibDems off the political map – at least they had the courage of their convictions in, publicly, engaging with Nigel Farage on the question of our continued membership of the EU.

    The Labour party are running scared and, so far, their strategy is a dignified silence – with the very occasional clichéd soundbite “we’ve learned the lessons blah! blah! blah!” They are only just starting to wake up to the fact that Ed Milliband is too easily labelled as ‘weird’ – i.e. not ‘prime ministerial’. He wants it, but, like Gordon Brown before him, the marxist princeling just doesn’t have it – he is a manager – not a leader.

    The tories are running terrified! We’ve had – current media darling – Theresa May, cynically proposing stiffer immigration rules ( Note to Ms May: Whilst we are in the EU, it is no longer in your power – that power has been removed from your jurisdiction – we are no longer the blind sheep you seem to think we are!) And we have David Cameron saying (unbelievably!) that Nigel Farage isn’t a ‘normal bloke’ he is a ‘supremely tactical politician’ (Note to Cameron: So good politicians aren’t ‘normal blokes’ are they? Actually ‘Dave’, he is both – above all – he is a real political ‘leader’ – not a political ‘manager’ (“I learnt all about this when I read PPE at Oxford – don’t you know!”).

    I would like to see conservative thinking, in this country, returned to Thatcherite ideals. I want to see us leave the EU and negotiate the free trade deal we voted for originally.

    And I want Heseltine, Howe and Clarke to still be alive to see it.

    • Kennybhoy

      “And I want Heseltine, Howe and Clarke to still be alive to see it.”

      Amen to that last sentence…

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Vince breaks the silence? DMMFL. Vince shuts up would be a headline.

  • dado_trunking

    Now look at all this frantic backpedalling going on here.

    The government could end NOW.
    The government never had ANY support.
    The government was NOT ELECTED by the electorate,
    The government in power today was conceived in the backrooms of Westminster.

    Does anyone care about that here? No.
    Does anyone want to see it end here? No. Wow.
    The political elite is clutching at straws.

    Suck it up and get on with your lives!
    End this pathetic spectacle, now.

    • rtj1211

      UKIP wasn’t elected by your logic. UKIP got less in the European elections than the Conservatives did in 2010.

      I know spoilt little children like you are too immature to realise that in the grown-up world, compromise is required between coalitions of interest. It happens in business, it happens in alliances and it happens at the UN.

      You believe in minority support giving majority government.

      That’s why you are a constitutional idiot of the highest order……..

  • CharlietheChump

    A new leader for the lIebDems. And such a range of talent from which to make a choice . . .

    • Alexsandr

      probably not best to have a new leader now. They may not have a HOC seat in a years time – then they will have to do it all over again.

      • rtj1211

        I”ll make a bet with you that they will have double figure numbers of seats.

        • Alexsandr

          sorry. No. There are too many variables, and stuff that could possibly happen to make betting a good idea.
          ask me again in september when stuff has settled down maybe.

  • chudsmania

    No Mr Cable. Your party got a stuffing for being the party of ‘in’ , when its clear that a growing majority of us wish to be ‘out’. How hard can it be for politicians , pundits and the BBC to understand this ? ‘We’ll listen and take necessary measures to reassure the electorate’ is the standard response. Sorry chaps , but whilst we are in the EU , listening is all you can do.

    • fundamentallyflawed

      I don’t agree. The lib dems are the biggest of the not Conservative or Labour camps. Upon coalition they abandoned arguably their most liberal and popular policy of scrapping tuition fees and I can’t see that they have had any major policy influences since apart from the strangely announced free schoool meals Overall this has probably cost them a substantial portion of their vote. In the run up to these elections they took a firm stance against the UKIP populist wave of anti-EU sentiment in an attempt to win back some of their hardcore support in the run up to the GE which certainly wouldn’t win any of the fringe votes. Just because they chose to not agree with your anti-EU sentiments doesn’t mean they are wrong – that is a what a democracy is for

      • Alexsandr

        they were wrong over AV, they were wrong over boundary changes, they are wrong over the EU and immigration. The have proven to be unrelaible in the collective responsibility of government. they are toast.

        • rtj1211

          You mean in your opinion they were wrong.

          They have proven to be extremely reliable concerning collective responsibility and the Tory Right Wing backbenchers have been considerably less responsible.

          They didn’t negotiate tough enough on what Tory snakes would be like in terms of PR referenda and HoL reform – they are responsible for that but the Tories got what they deserved over boundary changes, because they broke their word on more than two pledges and were trying to force issues beyond the Coalition agreement on the NHS.

          I know you won’t agree with this, but you must distinguish between your tribal needs and the facts of history.

          • Alexsandr

            I do not have any tribal allegance to the tories thankyou.

  • @PhilKean1

    A Prime Minister posing as a Conservative told British voters –

    – that his party and the Liberals came together in Coalition to do the hard things necessary to reduce the deficit and rebalance the economy.

    He then speedily appointed a hard left, anti-business, Business Secretary.

    Err, David Cameron. A Conservative? Economic crisis? Priorities?

    • rtj1211

      It depends on what your definition of ‘anti-business’ is.

      There is anti shareholders, there is anti-workers, there is anti-crony capitalists, there is anti-SMEs, there is anti multinationals.

      The EU is anti-SMEs but very pro multinationals.

      Tony Blair was very pro-crony-capitalists.

      Conservatives are often anti-workers but can also be anti corrupt bankers.

      I think you’ll find Vince Cable believes in protecting the viability of the SME base since they are the most rooted busineses in Britain for the long-term. That’s not saying that you should bash all big business for the sake of it, it’s saying that millions work for SMEs and their health should be of great concern to any business secretary, since GSK, AZ, HSBC, JBC etc etc are quite big enough to look after themselves.

    • Gary Wintle

      A hard left, anti-Business Business Secretary who presided over the Royal Mail sell off, which has been a total disaster for the taxpayer, but has certainly benefited the Spiv Class in the City, who made a mint for no work and then dumped the cost on the taxpayer, just like they did in the financial crisis.

  • pinkgunnergirl

    Fantastic news that Vince “voice of Tony Benn, voting record of Thatcher” Cable is propping Clegg up. Labour need Clegg to lead the Lib Dems into the 2015 General Election. The unification of the Left is within the grasp of the Labour party, for the first time since the SDP split.

    • Alexsandr

      any party that doesn’t reject a coalition with the failed and rejected limp dumps before 2015 will suffer at the ballot box. The cannot get 10% of the vote. a minor party like that should not be any where near government.

      • rtj1211

        And any blogger who thinks that a party with < 50% support should be allowed to govern as a majority administration should lose the right to vote for being implacably opposed to the principles of democracy……

        • Alexsandr

          excellent. can we have the Belgian no government solution then? at least if we have no government they cant muck things up.

  • MirthaTidville

    If anyone serious thinks that an elderly out of touch, bumbling clown (remember the 2 girls who made a fool out of him) can save the Dum Limps they truely are deluded. Even more so when its clearly their policies not their leader that has caused their present hiatus. What they really need is a complete re think of all they stand for. Without that they might as well close the door on the way out

    • David B

      All true, but will that stop a politician with an ambition and an ego?

      • telemachus

        Will not want to lead them to oblivion

        • David B

          Didn’t stop brown

    • telemachus

      They need time
      Vince will not consider leading
      He could stay on at Business in the reasonable administration of 2015

      • Gary Wintle

        After losing the taxpayer billions in the Royal Mail sell off, he should have been sacked.

        But as he was doing the bidding of the parasitic Spivs and the Bankers, he kept his job.

      • Kitty MLB

        What are you saying little wasp? Cable in Coalition with your bunch.
        If I were you I’d not say that to often. Or perhaps you should, how
        hilarious !

        • telemachus

          Leave me alone
          I am fragile and back at work
          Cable as you say would be a good fit

          • Kitty MLB

            I hope the fragile little wasp feels better soon. Maybe you should wait until the window is open until to try and leave.

    • rtj1211

      If you’re serious, you might learn how to spell ‘truly’.

      • MirthaTidville

        ha ha ha tell me again how many MEP`s have you lot got???

  • David B

    I am sure I could hear the sound of a knife being sharpened as I read that

  • telemachus

    Vince is a sage man
    Indeed the only man who could seamlessly transfer to the 2015 Miliband/Balls administration
    He knows better than to want to lead a Jo Grimond rump
    Very wise

    • Hello

      What makes you think Cable will still have a seat in 2015?

    • UniteAgainstSocialism

      what these elections made clear is that the british people have rejected the perverse ideology of socialism. Only your core voters made up of the elderly working class from the North East and the immigrants imported by the treasonous Labour Party into London to sure up their vote are saving Labour from the poliltcal death they, like all socialists, deserve.

      • telemachus

        rejected the perverse ideology of socialism
        On the contrary the people want fairplay
        Only Socialism can deliver that

        • UniteAgainstSocialism

          the only thing socialism can deliver are concentration camps in Germany and Gulags in the Soviet Union to those who oppose their socialist ideology

          • fundamentallyflawed

            The biggest characteristic of moddern socialism is the rapid destruction of any idea that it does itself embrace. Closely followed by a dictatorship of the elite

            • telemachus

              The aim is to achieve fairness for all
              Those who do not are not Socialists

              • Alexsandr

                and detractors vill be shot by ze STASI

                • rtj1211

                  Provide the evidence that the 1945 labour Government employed a STASI.

                  if you can’t, accept that you are a liar and a poor one at it.

                • Alexsandr

                  Tellytubby said on the comments for another article that he craved a state like the DDR. It was that to which I was referring. He seems to consider democracy quite unimportant.

          • rtj1211

            Who delivered the National Health Service?

            Who conceived National Insurance to pay for it??

            Who instigated the rebuilding of Britain after the war??

            Actually, the only truly socialist Government that Britain has ever had.

            You can hate it all you like, but so long as you lie like in your piece, you will be regarded by all sane people, Labour, Tory, UKIP, Libdem, Green or none of the aforementioned, as a pathetic pile of blinkered prejudice who betrays only their own ignorance when spouting their nonsense.

            • UniteAgainstSocialism

              the coalition government during WW2 delivered the Bevin Report. If the Tories had won the GE just after the war they would have delivered the same reforms

              In fact the socialist Labour Party were kicked out by the voters at the next GE they liked socialism that much and the Tories continued to implement the changes brought about by the Bevin Report.

              You socialist are great at rewritting history to suit your ideology. It suits your blinkered, prejudiced ignorant views and proves all you do is spout nonsense and propaganda

              Lets not forget either, most lefties didnt support the war until your socialist comrads in germany invaded your preferred brand of socialism in the USSR. Traitors the lot of you

        • chudsmania

          Yep. I see its working really well in Venezuela. Socialism fails everywhere it rears its ugly head.

          • rtj1211

            And you think that the way to pay off the UK national debt is to grant fracking licenses to companies domiciled in St Kitts & Nevis, Bermuda, or any other tax avoiding domicile, do you??

            • Fergus Pickering


        • Inverted Meniscus

          Socialism can only deliver lies and misery.

          • rtj1211

            Actually, the most wars have been initaited by the capitalists. Wars cause the most misery.

            • Alexsandr

              most wars are caused by religion.

    • Alexsandr

      cable is and always has been a socialist. he has probably been taking his orders from millipede as we speak.

      • fundamentallyflawed

        Its a shame really because having worked for a large employer that treated its employees without regard I saw first hand the good that the bastion of socialism, the unionists can do at a local level. But nationally it becomes almost a crusade on every issue with scant regard for anything else. A mirror reflection in essence of the thing it says it is not.

      • rtj1211

        Provide the evidence for your unsubstantiated allegations………

        • Alexsandr

          god you do thake things seriously dont you.
          he is an ex labourite and is certainly of the left of the limp dems. It is well documented that he has more affinity with labour than the tories.