Cable comes out fighting over criticism of growth strategy

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The Independent Online

The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has hit back at critics who believe through "ignorance, amnesia or mischief... that the Government can somehow guarantee an immediate, miraculous, return to rapid economic growth through some all-encompassing plan".

He singled out Ed Balls, saying that the shadow Chancellor, when City Minister, "turned a blind eye to the madness brewing within the financial sector, and now ignores the need to deal with unaffordable spending. Bankrupts can't buy their way back to growth."

In a more oblique swipe at his former Liberal Democrat colleague Lord Oakeshott, who resigned as a Coalition spokesman in the Lords over the Government's "Project Merlin" deal with the banks, Mr Cable added: "I should say that in supporting this agreement, I chose to disregard the advice of commentators and supporters who told me not to touch the agreement with a barge pole."

Mr Cable has been widely criticised by both political opponents and business groups such as the CBI for failing to publish a Government strategy for growth, even though the Treasury has set out radical fiscal plans to bring down debt.

However, speaking at the Mansion House on the day that thefuture of BSkyB was apparently settled – an issue that almost ended his career – Mr Cable said the Government was working towards setting out such a vision.

The Business Secretary also vowed to resist pressure from the CBI and others to soften the Coalition's stance on immigration and work visas. He said: "This government has, successfully I think, got the balance right between providing reassurance to the public that borders are under control and providing a welcome to visitors be they businessmen, skilled workers, tourists or students."

The Government would also plough ahead with its planningreforms, Mr Cable said, and hedenied a rift with the Communities Secretary.

"Sometimes obstruction prevents the transformative economicopportunity from taking place: the retailer that regenerates the town centre, or the international headquarters that instead decides to head elsewhere," Mr Cable said.

"That is why the Government is bent on planning reform. Contrary to what you may read, Eric Pickles and I are at one on this. We want local communities to benefit from growth, and the standard answer to be yes, not no."