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Liberal Democrats: Vince Cable's sagely Financial Blunders.

Author: Laura Miller 

We investigate the cult of Cable and asks what do we really know about the er... Sage of Twickenham?

Vince Cable is hailed by right, left and whoever is behind, as a prophet who predicted the crisis. But who is the man who could be our next  chancellor?

In the last of our three part mini-series on the main parties, we look in depth at the Liberal Democrats' secret weapon.


5. The Shell years

Before entering parliament in 1997, Cable spent three decades as an economic adviser, including a two-year spell from 1995 as chief economist for oil giant Shell.

In May 1995 before a New York court, campaigners from Nigeria accused the oil giant of complicity in violence in the country to protect its oil interests. The next month, Shell settled out of court to pay $15.5m to the families of nine victims murdered in the violence by the military, but refused to accept legal responsibility for the deaths.

Cable has always denied knowledge of Shell's involvement, and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. But some could say his time on the pay role of arguably the world's biggest polluter, and an alleged murderer, takes a bit of a shine off his "Holier than thou/ I told you so Gordon" demeanour.....


The son of a working-class Tory lecturer who defected from Labour to the Social Democrats in 1981, Vince is not exactly the lefty-liberal poster child. On his watch the Lib Dems have gone right, scrapping plans for a 50p-in-the-pound tax rate on high earners in 2008.

But Cable seems confused. In his regular column for the Mail on Sunday he has railed against a "public-sector fat-cat culture". Same week, different publication (this time the left-leaning New Statesman) he laid into bankers' pay.

The football fans among you start, the rest join in when you can....Oi Cable, WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU?

3. A Vince by any other name.....

He may be an economic wunderkind to the outside world, but party insiders have nicknamed the deputy leader 'Brutus' over alleged disloyalty to his leaders.

Vince got the name after wielding the knife into Ming Campbell, as well as Campbell's predecessor Charles Kennedy whose departure was aided by 'Brutus' drumming up support against him in a letter.

2. Righty-loosey, lefty-tighty

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said it was the "zeal for deregulation [which] set Britain up for a fall". One might have expected Cable, the political prophet, to have been an early advocate for stronger regulation of the City.

Not so. In June 1999, debating the Financial Services and Markets (FSMA) Bill in the Commons Cable said any regulation should be done on a "light-touch basis". A decade on, and with the benefit of hindsight, he is now calling for "radical safety measures" to be built into a new regulatory architecture for the City.

Perhaps instead of his usual epithet of ‘economic guru', we should call him Vince ‘Have Your Cake and Eat It' Cable.

1. Robert Mugabe's economist

In the Independent newspaper in January 2009, Cable criticised the Government's policy of 'quantitative easing', referring to it as "the Robert Mugabe school of economics".

By March 2009 he had clearly decided in favour of monetary policy Mugabe-style, stating on the Lib Dem website, "directly increasing the amount of money flowing into the economy is now the only clear option".

100,000,000% inflation to look forward to next....?


Oh well, maybe they call him the sage because of the stuffing he gives to party leaders, including a few of his own?