Amol Rajan: Exclusive! Cable buckling
under "unbearable strain". (May, 2015)

The Lib Dem leader is in trouble after the leak of a memo

detailing his hopes for a "progressive alliance".

Share

A time capsule landed on my desk yesterday morning. From what I could make of the inscription - it was terribly faded - it held a news report from May 2015.

By Amol Rajan, Political Editor (Content)

Vince Cable was late last night said to be "buckling under the unbearable strain" after a week of intense negotiation with senior colleagues. The Liberal Democrat leader, who succeeded Nick Clegg after the party lost 17 seats in the election, has asked for "calm and composure" from members furious at a leaked memo to party President Tim Farron, in which he flirted with the idea of a "grand bargain" with Ed Miliband's rejuvenated Labour Party, resulting in the formation of a new party.

In the memo, revealed exclusively in i yesterday, Mr Cable wrote of his "date with destiny" in returning Britain's third party to its "historic home", a so-called progressive alliance. "As a former Labour Party member and indeed councillor", Mr Cable, 72, wrote, "I cannot ignore the ideological appeal of Ed Miliband's offer".

He went on: "All political parties are coalitions, but some more than others. I come from the Social Democrat wing; Nick [Clegg] and David [Laws] come from the Liberal wing. It would be remiss of me not to entertain the possibility of a social democratic alliance with the Labour Party that would deliver the 21st century to Britain's centre-left, and that is why I am writing to you in confidence."

Mr Cable, who has been accused of orchestrating the leak of the memo, has had tense relations with David Cameron and George Osborne since the new year, culminating in a heated exchange on the BBC's Andrew Neil Show in which the Chancellor accused him of being a "scrofulous socialist Scrooge". Last night the clip had 64 million YouTube views.

Because the Conservatives won 14 more seats than Labour in the hung parliament, another so-called Lib-Con coalition could be arithmetically more stable than a Lib-Lab alliance. Mr Miliband is understood to have offered Mr Cable the keys to No 11 if he goes into Coalition with Labour. On Monday, a senior ally of Mr Cable told i that he has rejected the idea of a Lib-Lab coalition, instead proposing a merger of the two parties under a new name, rumoured to be 'the New Social Democrats'. Mr Cable has until Friday to make a decision.

Mr Clegg was not available for comment yesterday, but a spokesman said the former Deputy PM was "unspeakably thrilled" by his new role as President of the European Commission and looking forward to spending more time with his three sons.

But what did Mr Cable do next?

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Whitehall Editor: The spurious Tory endorsement that misfired

Oliver Wright
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence