So are Vince Cable’s public spending cuts his own, or are they Lib Dem policy? In his Straight Talk interview with the Lib Dem treasury spokesman this weekend, Andrew Neil tries to get to the bottom of it all. The result? Well, according to Cable, Nick Clegg "approved" his pamphlet for the think tank Reform, and some of its contents could find their way into the party’s manifesto:
"A lot of it is already Lib Dem policy, a lot of it already is, the rest of it will have to be considered and we’ll go into an election with a manifesto, we have a due process. Maybe because of who I am a lot of it will be there, but some of it may not be, it has to be agreed with my colleagues of course."
As James said earlier this week, it’s amazing just how much latitude Cable gets. Effectively, what he’s admitting above is that he can make policy proposals which aren’t official Lib Dem policy; that Brand Cable sometimes comes before the party. Can you imagine if Alistair Darling and George Osborne admitted the same?
Elsewhere in the interview, Cable also says that he was wrong to support the merger of Lloyds TSB and HBOS last year. As he puts it: "My first reaction was not the right one". Woah. Careful there, Vince – you don’t want to contaminate the brand.