Simon Carr: If, by chance, Vince is at the Dispatch Box next year

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The Independent Online

The great thing about looking like a professional mourner is that your time eventually comes around.

When Vince stands up at the despatch box as a government minister with his pre-Budget report, everyone will realise the British economy must have died.

"Hardly a surprise, we knew it was coming for a long time."

"Yes, still, always a shock when it happens."

Tax revenues will have collapsed, public debt will be soaring, credit rating dropping like a stone, pound coins falling below their scrap value, bankers running through the streets seizing children for collateral... It will be Cable's moment!

Now we'll find out the difference between being "a wise man on the backbenches", in Tony Blair's contemptuous phrase, and being an action-man chancellor.

He's going to bring the banks under control. He's going to tax them for their implied guarantee, he's going to limit bonuses. He's going to do high, wise and liberal democratic things to regulate and restrain and harmonise.

But what will he not do? He'll want to bring back Glass Steagel to separate retail from investment banking. He won't do that, though. The banks don't want him to and he's only the Chancellor.

Maybe he'll yet do what those around him murmur may be done by an outsider. Maybe he'll unleash the jackals, the scavengers, the hunt-in-packs predators – the hedge funds in other words – and they'll tear the banks to pieces. That act of creative destruction would uncover their profitable core.

Yes, it would be brutal, cruel, retributive. "But you say that like it's a bad thing?" It would solve the moral hazard problem, retrieve some value, sets us back on the path to prosperity and allows us to watch bankers having their brains eaten by dogs.

It would be Vince's most popular act since that silly dancing show. Maybe he'd get asked back.

But whatever happens to Vince, his party will break up. The same pressures that push a fellow into office will push the party into a world of pain. Very few parties can survive that sort of co-operation. Still, never mind. It's one less party conference to cover.

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