Vince Cable raises prospect of Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition after next election
Vince Cable today raised the prospect of a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition government after the next election as he strongly defended his continuing contacts with Ed Miliband's party.
The Business Secretary also took a series of venomous swipes at his Conservative coalition partners, variously dismissing them as “head-bangers” and “backwoodsmen”.
His conference address clearly established him as the Liberal Democrat best placed to lead his party into a post-election agreement with Mr Miliband as Labour would be likely to demand Nick Clegg's head as a price for a deal.
The Labour leader has revealed he regularly swaps text messages with Mr Cable, while the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, has lavished public praise on the Business Secretary.
Mr Cable joked today about the contacts, raising laughs as he got out his mobile phone during his speech and pretended to receive a call from Mr Miliband, but also made clear he was unrepentant about maintaining contacts with Labour.
“Many of the decisions we face, on banks, industrial strategy, climate change, go way beyond the limitations of one party or one parliament,” he said. “That is why I also make sure I have good communications with politicians across the political spectrum.”
He stressed the party would fight the next election as a “totally independent, national, credible challenger for power”. But he predicted it would result in another hung parliament and made clear the Liberal Democrats could work just as easily with Labour as the Conservatives in the national interest.
He said: “I don't believe actually that the British people will want to entrust their future to any one party next time. And if Britain wants sustainable growth, competence with compassion, fairness with freedom and more equality not ever greater division, then that government must have Liberal Democrats at its heart.”
The Business Secretary attacked the economic competence of “rootless New Labour” between 1997 and 2010, as well as its civil liberties record and the decision to invade Iraq.
But he reserved his fiercest language for his coalition partners, mocking the “Tory backwoodsmen” horrified by the “proper taxation of wealth and land” and said he relished the “enticing prospect of a Tory split” between David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson.
In a reference to Conservative ministers who want to relax employment laws, he said: “We have seen off the head-bangers who want a hire and fire culture and seem to find sacking people an aphrodisiac”.
An opinion poll today found the Liberal Democrats were more likely to win back voters lost since the 2010 election if Mr Cable - who has never ruled out standing for the party leadership - replaced Mr Clegg, with 29 per cent saying he would be an attractive leader compared with 13 per cent who said the same of Mr Clegg.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 1 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 2 Japanese plant experts produce 10,000 lettuce heads a day in LED-lit indoor farm
- 3 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Israel-Gaza conflict: Death toll tops 125 after overnight raids as Operation Protective Edge continues
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Ian Thorpe gay: Olympic swimmer comes out in Parkinson interview
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Gaza-Israel conflict: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators take to streets of London, Paris and New York in wave of protests
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...