Vince Cable aims his fire at Tories

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Indy Politics

Vince Cable took a series of swipes at his Tory colleagues today as he insisted the Liberal Democrats were reining in their coalition colleagues.

The Business Secretary made a thinly veiled attack on Communities Secretary Eric Pickles as well as launching a direct dig at David Cameron's policy guru Steve Hilton.



And he dismissed the increasing calls among Conservatives for the 50p top rate tax to be axed as "childish fantasy" that would fail to attract back British billionaires from their Caribbean bolt-holes.



In a speech that appeared at odds with Mr Cable's earlier claims that he was "positively committed" to the coalition he also admitted he "regrets" failing to secure tighter control on bank pay and bonuses.



Mr Cable appealed to party activists with pledges to tackle "the escalation of executive pay" telling the conference he was consulting on how best to tackle salaries that have "lost any connection with the value of shares, let alone average employee pay".



"It is hard to explain why shareholders can vote to cut top pay but the managers can ignore the vote and surely pay should be transparent, not hidden from shareholders, and the public."



The cabinet minister wants firms to be forced to publicly justify handing out multimillion-pound packages in an attempt to end "rewards for failure".



New rules will require the total value of salary, shares, pensions and bonuses to be set out clearly every year. From October, firms must disclose the criteria used to determine their huge reward packages.



Last month Mr Pickles denounced plans for a mansion tax on homes worth more than £2million, a policy that was the brainchild of Mr Cable, as a "big mistake" that would hit the middle classes.



But the Business Secretary hit back today by questioning "what solar system" critics of the plan lived in.



Mr Cable made a more direct attack on Mr Hilton, the Downing Street strategy director known for his "blue sky" thinking who reportedly suggested axing maternity leave earlier this year.



He said: "What I will not do though is provide cover for ideological descendants of those who sent children up chimneys.



"Panic in financial markets won't be stopped by scrapping maternity rights."



He added: "I think most of the British public do get it but there are politicians on both left and right who don't.



"Some of them believe government is Father Christmas.They draw up lists of tax cuts and give-aways and assume that Santa will pop down the chimney and leave presents under the tree.



"This is childish fantasy. Some believe that if taxes on the wealthy are cut, new revenue will miraculously appear.



"I think their reasoning is this - all those British billionaires who demonstrate their patriotism by hiding from the taxman in Monaco or some Caribbean bolt-hole will rush back to pay more tax but at a lower rate.



"Pull the other one."



Mr Cable insisted the public wanted "responsible capitalism" before taking a pop at Rupert Murdoch's under-fire media empire.



"As for irresponsible capitalism, some of you may have noticed that one of the big media companies has recently had a spot of bother. I think you know who I mean.



"The Labour Party, the Conservatives and even the Scottish Nationalists spent years queuing up to pay homage to them.



"What makes me proud of our Party is that we never compromised ourselves in that company."

PA

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