Without a shadow of a doubt: Vince Cable should be the Lib Dems’ Shadow Chancellor at the 2015 election

by Stephen Tall on March 22, 2014

Vincent CableOne of the quirks of being in coalition is the Lib Dems no longer have a shadow chancellor. But we shall need one in time for the 2015 general election – not least for the traditional televised ‘Ask the Chancellors’ debate.

There have been newspaper reports that there’s some jockeying for this position, with the Financial Times reporting that “Senior Lib Dems say the high-profile job is very likely to go to Danny Alexander, the Treasury chief secretary”.

Meanwhile, over at the New Statesman, Lib Dem blogger Richard Morris suggests pensions minister Steve Webb should get the job: “suddenly, there’s a new name in the frame for that plummiest of jobs in an election campaign”.

It is absolutely clear, though, who should be the Lib Dem shadow chancellor at the next general election: the guy who was our shadow chancellor at the last general election, Vince Cable.

He is, by a long, long way, the best-qualified candidate. I say that for two reasons.

First, his understanding of the British economy far exceeds that of either Danny (or Steve). It is impossible to imagine anyone other than Vince writing as good and nuanced an account of the Coalition’s economic policies as he did last year in the New Statesman: When the facts change, should I change my mind?

Secondly, his understanding of the politics far exceeds that of Danny (though not necessarily Steve). Vince has walked the tightrope of respecting collective cabinet responsibility while signalling quite clearly when and why he disagrees with the Conservatives, most notably on immigration.

And yet, as Jonathan Calder highlighted yesterday, he is unafraid to take the fight to Labour also, offering a parliamentary tour de force that utterly floored those Opposition MPs trying to score points against either Vince or the Lib Dems.

I can imagine the reasons why Nick Clegg would want to elbow out Vince in favour of Danny. I cannot see any reason why he would so in the best interests of the Lib Dems, though.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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4 comments

[…] I’m not going to feign neutrality on this one: I think my fellow party members have called this exactly right. As I wrote of Vince a month ago: […]

by Who should be the Lib Dem shadow chancellor in 2015 – Vince or Danny? Here’s what Lib Dem members think… on April 27, 2014 at 8:29 am. Reply #

[…] I’m not going to feign neutrality on this one: I think my fellow party members have called this exactly right. As I wrote of Vince a month ago: […]

by Who should be the Lib Dem shadow chancellor in 2015 – Vince or Danny? Here’s what Lib Dem members think… on April 28, 2014 at 8:16 am. Reply #

[…] I’m not going to feign neutrality on this one: I think my fellow party members have called this exactly right. As I wrote of Vince many months ago: […]

by Who should be the Lib Dem shadow chancellor in 2015 – Vince or Danny? Here’s what Lib Dem members think… on October 6, 2014 at 7:45 am. Reply #

[…] I’ve made no secret of my view on this: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Vince Cable should have continued in the role he held in 2010 as the party’s shadow chancellor. He is, quite simply, head and shoulders above any of his colleagues when it comes not only to understanding the British economy, but, just as crucially, explaining it in a way that is both credible and distinct from the Tories. […]

by Guardian: Danny Alexander, not Vince Cable, designated Lib Dem shadow chancellor (oh, and no Lib Dem reshuffle) on October 18, 2014 at 12:52 am. Reply #

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