A wounded champion of social liberalism

December 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

Vince Cable-a champion of social liberalism

Well, what a day it has been.

Marked by some private comments by the Business Secretary Vince Cable becoming public, thanks to so-called ‘undercover’ journalists (I could think of other names for them!), the Daily Telegraph newspaper-who seem, perhaps unsurprisingly, to detest the idea of Lib Dems being in coalition with their beloved Tories, and the BBC’s Business Editor Robert Peston (who, by the way, has one of the worst broadcasting voices in recent memory.)

Though some of his comments were ill-advised-I happen to agree with him re the dreadful Rupert Murdoch-I’m glad that sane heads prevailed and that he was allowed to remain in office as Business Secretary, albeit that he has had some of his responsibilities stripped from his department and given to rising Tory James Hunt, the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary.

There’s no doubt that he’ll probably keep his head down for a while…or hope to…and has seen a dent to the way some people will perceive him, especially as both David Cameron and Nick Clegg saw right to publicly do him down, but it is important…very important…that he is still in office, because his the most senior advocate of the left-wing or social liberal wing of the Liberal Democrats, the wing of the party with which I am myself allied.

The reason I am a Liberal Democrat is because of our party’s long-held belief in social liberalism, in ensuring the Government and the State is always there to help the least, the last and the lost.

This has led, over centuries, to a number of profound, progressive and positive changes to our country…from the beginnings of the modern welfare state-brought in by a Liberal Government-to the first thinking through of an idea which later became the National Health Service.

The more right-wing-also known as the ‘Orange Book’-element of the party is very well represented in the upper echelons of the Government, but we social liberals don’t have many people at Secretary of State level to represent our views.

Vince Cable is one of those.

He may have made a bad mistake here, but he is an excellent Minister and deserves to remain in Government for many years to come and help to ensure this Government delivers on its promises to be fair and progressive and to help the poorest and weakest people in our midst.

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§ 2 Responses to A wounded champion of social liberalism

  • Neil Baker says:

    The outcome is probably for the best. There is no way he could have remained in control of competition and media following his comments. Whether people agree with them or not, and whoever the individual or company the comments were about, it’s not feasible to have somebody holding a quasi-judicial position to admit such a prejudice.

    To put it into a simple comparison, if a member of a district council’s development control committee said they were totally against a certain developer, they’d have to leave the room if that person’s plan came up. If an executive member holding the portfolio for development control made such a comment, they’d surely have to leave their portfolio?

    Having said that, I do believe the Lib Dem Party (not the Coalition) would have been better off if they had an MP such as Vince Cable, a high-profile person, fighting for the membership (who I assume are in the majority anti-coalition, but I’m not expert) from the backbenches.

    Vince remains an interesting character. I’m not sure I agree he has a “nuclear option” as us political types have always had a hunch he may quit at some point. It has certainly been a long journey from being a Glasgow Labour councillor to where he is today and it wouldn’t shock too many, who know of his background, if he were to walk away from a coalition he may not be fully comfortable with.

  • Niklas Smith says:

    I’m also pleased that sane heads prevailed and Vince wasn’t sacked (though his comment on Murdoch was out of order given his legal responsibility and it was quite proper that the BSkyB takeover decision was taken away from him).

    @Neil Baker: The latest Lib Dem Voice members’ survey found 85% support for remaining in the Coalition from among surveyed members. It also found 67% approval of the government’s record to date. This is not a random-sample poll so the results are not guaranteed to be accurate but I would be very surprised if a majority of the membership was against the Coalition, even though the tuition fees mess will probably have reduced support.

    @Mathew: I’m frankly getting confused about who is a social liberal and who is an “Orange booker”. When the Orange Book came out Vince Cable’s involvement (he wrote the chapter on “Liberal economics and social justice”) led him to be categorised as an Orange Booker, and his opposition to the 50% tax rate (that was party policy at the time) also made people categorise him as a right-winger. But now he seems to be regarded as one of the leading left/social liberals in the Lib Dems. Why the big change?

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