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
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
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
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"
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
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
3. A Vince by any other
He may be an economic wunderkind to the outside
world, but party insiders have nicknamed the deputy
leader 'Brutus' over alleged disloyalty to his
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
Perhaps instead of his usual epithet of ‘economic
guru', we should call him Vince ‘Have Your Cake and Eat
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
100,000,000% inflation to look forward to
Oh well, maybe they call him the sage because of the
stuffing he gives to party leaders, including a few of