Labour’s Chuka Umunna and veteran Liberal Democrat Vince Cable have united to criticise the Business Secretary Sajid Javid for failing to promote British industry.
In a rare display of cross-party unity, Mr Cable, Business Secretary in the Tory-led coalition government, and Mr Umunna, his Labour ‘shadow’ – say they are deeply concerned about the Government’s apparent unwillingness to set out what they propose to do to stimulate industrial growth.
They warn that Mr Javid appears to have fallen back on the Thatcherite doctrine that the market can solve the problems of long term industrial development without any help from government.
The decision of the two old rivals to work together by co-authoring an article published in The Independent is a sign of how the political landscape has changed since the May election. Both have suffered a reverse in their political fortunes. Mr Cable lost both his ministerial job and his seat in the Commons, and Mr Umunna, who was thought to have a good chance of being the next Labour leader, abruptly pulled out of the leadership contest for personal reasons.
Their joint statement is Mr Cable’s first return to the political fray since losing office. In it, the pair claim that Mr Javid, who has a picture of Margaret Thatcher above his desk in the Department for Business, has so far refrained from using the phrase “industrial policy”. They also note that unlike the NHS or overseas aid, the Business Department is not protected from the Chancellor’s drive to cut costs.
“We are not rushing to judgement on this government though the silence is ominous,” they warn. “There is a need and an opportunity to address some of the deep rooted weaknesses of the UK economy.
“The industrial strategy provides a readymade platform to do so. We shall see whether a long term commitment to the national interest takes precedence over short term expediency and ideological prejudice.”Reuse content