Vince Cable’s Today interview was remarkable for two reasons. The first was that the Business Secretary announced that he doesn’t want to ‘rush into legislation’ on zero hours contracts and instead wants to have another look at exclusivity agreements, where an employee is forced to work for one company only, even if they offer very few paid hours from week to week. This isn’t that surprising to those who have been following the debate: the Lib Dems found at their conference that their members were quite wary in Q&A sessions of outlawing these scary-sounding examples of labour market flexibility, and the Tories working on this are quite relaxed about tackling exclusivity as they don’t feel that these clauses are particularly free market anyway. But it’s worth noting that Cable is making no attempt to align himself with Labour on this, which wobbles between wanting to crackdown on abuse, and outlaw these contracts outright.

But what was more remarkable was that an MP who represents a London constituency told the programme that ‘one of the big problems we have at the moment, which I don’t think the [Davies commission on aviation] report sufficiently addresses, is that London is becoming a kind of giant suction machine draining the life out of the rest of the country, and I think more balance in that respect would be helpful’.

That the whole country feels the effects of the recovery is naturally something that concerns both sides of the Coalition: George Osborne’s adviser Neil O’Brien wrote about ‘Planet London’ effect for us last year. But Cable seems to think London, as it whizzes ahead of the rest of the country, is somehow doing so on stolen fuel that belongs in the North West or other regions.

Tags: London, UK politics, Vince Cable