From Bagehot in the Economist this week:

In some ways, miraculous to report, the Liberal Democrats have the most mature position on the deficit. Nick Clegg, their leader, this week demoted some of the party’s spending pledges (for example, on pensions and university funding) to aspirations, pre-emptively narrowing his manifesto to a few, affordable core themes. He has not promised to protect any departmental budgets. Vince Cable, his Treasury spokesman, has a longer list of items for the chop than Mr Osborne, including some cherished defence projects, but accepts that the axeman’s hand should be stayed for another year.

Nick’s speech was a good idea, and the follow up in the FT hopefully had an appreciative City audience, hearing the message: there is nothing to fear from the Lib Dems holding the balance of power in 6 months’ time.

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4 thoughts on “Vindication!

  1. Vince Cable was (apparently) very sensible at the Fabians yesterday: he pointed out that “ring-fencing” departments was idiotic – e.g. ring fencing the NHS is stupid because that means ring fencing the waste-of-money IT disaster, but slashing money to councils that provide old people with new carpets is also daft because a main cause of old people needing to go to hospital is…them falling over old carpets in their run-down homes.

    He also made the case that cuts need to follow economic necessity, not a political time-table.

    Some stuff here:

    http://www.nextleft.org/2010/01/vince-cable-cuts-should-be-guided-by.html

    1. Thanks for telling me about that. Vince, given time to speak his mind without soundbites etc, is fantastically insightful and balanced. I am hardly unbiased though!

      He is right about the timetabling – although the way the debate is now framed, the Tories will try to make the two blend together -make the public start really wanting the cuts. It’s what I’d do – you need to build consensus. who know, if exports occur (see David Smith) then it may work. I just think it’s too large a risk

  2. “Thanks for telling me about that. Vince, given time to speak his mind without soundbites etc, is fantastically insightful and balanced. I am hardly unbiased though”

    no it’s true, he’s very erudite. I remember from my days sitting in on the lib dem treasury team meetings and writing prep sheets for how to give the Guernsey finance minister a really hard time.

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