Vince Cable warns Nick Clegg that Lib Dems must return to 'radical' party roots

Business Secretary voices concerns over party's future and economic policy at conference

Vince Cable has warned that the Liberal Democrats must not sacrifice their principles as Nick Clegg tries to convert them into a party of power.

The Business Secretary told a fringe meeting at the start of the Liberal Democrat spring conference in Brighton: “While we are now not a protest party we have to ensure that we remain not just a party of government but a radical party, attacking privilege, vested interests and the abuse of economic and political power.”

Appealing to Liberal Democrat activists disaffected by the compromises of coalition, he added: “We must make a success of government but in acquiring respectability and the aura of responsibility we must continue to defend our strong liberal and social democratic values.”

In a warning shot across Mr Clegg's bows, Mr Cable called for new wealth taxes on the rich, including the end of privileges for “non-doms” and curbing people avoiding inheritance by making gifts. Renewing his call for a boost to housing and infrastructure projects, he said: “The Government, together with the Bank of England, must support recovery, not undermine it.”

The Business Secretary has been denied a speaking slot in the formal conference, where his grassroots allies in the Social Liberal Forum (SLF) pressure group have tabled a “Plan C” or “Plan Cable” for the economy. They hope conference delegates will agree today to discuss their emergency motion tomorrow. But the Liberal Democrat leadership will try to water it down because it opposes further spending cuts.

Mr Cable insists his “Plan A Plus” does not depart from Coalition policy. Addressing the SLF last night, he said he and Mr Clegg agreed it was a “mistake” for the Coalition to implement the capital spending cuts it inherited from Labour in 2010.

He attacked the economic policies of both Labour and the Tory right, and warned that Tory plans to cut net migration below 100,000 a year is “seriously damaging to economic recovery and politically pointless”.

He said businessmen and highly qualified staff were being driven away by Britain's complex visa procedures.

Mr Clegg pledged last night to stamp out sexism in the Liberal Democrats as he promised to learn lessons from the way they handled allegations that activists were sexually harassed by its former chief executive, who denies the claims. Lord Rennard will stay away from the conference.

Speaking at a rally in Brighton, Mr Clegg said: “Sexism must have no place in the Liberal Democrats. Harassment must have no place in the Liberal Democrats. Abuse of power and position must have no place in the Liberal Democrats. I won't tolerate it. Our party should be better than that.”

Speaking at the same rally as Mr Clegg, Equalities Minister Jo Swinson gave details for the first time of how she handled claims that Lord Rennard had behaved inappropriately.

She said a “number of women” had come to her and their “shared objective” was to make sure the alleged behaviour stopped. “I have not heard any account of inappropriate behaviour subsequently,” she said.

The Rennard affair and conviction of Vicky Pryce, the ex-wife of former minister Chris Huhne, have created a difficult backdrop to the conference.

But an upbeat Mr Clegg told the rally the party's victory in the Eastleigh by-election showed it is “winning again”. He said: “We won not in spite of being in power, we won because we are in power – locally and nationally.”

Helena Morrissey, a mother of nine who is chief executive of Newton Investment Management, will head an independent inquiry into the party's “culture, process and complaints”.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

Special Needs Teaching Assistant

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Special Educational Needs Teach...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London