Vince Cable is much over-rated, he sounds plausible, reasonable even, but in reality he talks in populist platitudes. He was for
the nationalisation of Northern Rock before he was against
it. He was for
tax hikes before he was for
tax cuts. The LibDems
now say they are looking for £20 billion in spending cuts, yet they also are telling party activists they are not going to cut the overall burden of taxes, merely shift the burden on to the rich. How are they going to simultaneously boost public sector housing by buying up empty and unsold private sector capacity?
It doesn’t add up. Ask them where the spending cuts are going to come from and they mention ID cards and getting rid of BERR. – nowhere near the amount required. LibDem activists think Cable is some kid of economic seer, “he warned about debt” – so did every orthodox economist, “he told them to nationalise Northern Rock” and the taxpayers will have to pay the high price for that.
His latest populist policy wheeze is to force every state bureaucrat on over £100,000 to re-apply for their job and/or take a pay cut. As much as Guido hates public sector profligacy this gimmick is not the way to tackle it, the legal difficulties are legion (they have contracts). The practical difficulties are so immense it is bordering on crackpot. The LibDem conference loved it…