Who should be the Lib Dem shadow chancellor in 2015 – Vince or Danny? Here’s what Lib Dem members think…

by Stephen Tall on October 6, 2014

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

ldv vince danny

Currently the Lib Dems do not have a shadow chancellor. Vince Cable held the role in 2010. Danny Alexander has been chief secretary to the treasury for the past four years. Who do you think should represent the Lib Dems in the ‘Ask the Chancellors’ televised debate during the 2015 general election campaign?

    24% – Danny Alexander

    65% – Vince Cable

    5% – Someone else

    5% – Don’t know

By an overwhelming 65% to 24% Lib Dem members want Vince Cable rather than Danny Alexander to represent the party on the economy at the next general election. Among the small number of those who opted for someone else, David Laws was the single most popular choice, with Steve Webb also mentioned.

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:

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 [Webb]). 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.

That’s what I think. Here’s a sample of your comments…

• This is very important. It is quite plain that Vince is the more trusted and credible figure.
• Danny is too close to the coalition. We need Vince to show our independence in the debates.
• Danny Alexander might be a nice bloke but he’s simply poor with the media. He’s lost the debate before it’s begun.
• Vince will sell our values much better because Danny does not come over well on TV.
• Clearly Vince. It has to be.
• I don’t know who, but I do not believe Danny Alexander can credibly debate with George Osborne, nor do I feel he has particularly stood up to him enough in his position to be able to robustly argue against the proposed Tory direction of spending. I do not think Vince Cable has the credibility left following the post office sell off.
• Danny Alexander has done a brilliant job not least on the `No Thanks’ debate.
• Danny Alexander has drunk the treasury kool aid. He cannot seriously be put forward to debate on the key issue of the economy. Also on TV he looks like an automaton.
• I’m afraid Danny is not a great spokesperson and although Vince has been attached to some bad moves (Royal Mail etc), he’s still a great steady, economic hand and is seen to be a true Liberal
• Only Vince has the experience required and the public support needed to fill this role
• Cambridge Liberal Democrats were assured during the leadership debate by those close to the leadership that it was looking extremely likely that Vince would be appointed. This was used as a sign that the leadership were listening to members and that change was possible without the need for Nick to go. This swung a lot of people behind the leadership in the debate – it was a concrete example of the leadership being prepared to listen. The silence on Vince’s appointment since then has been deafening.
• Danny has the looks, but Vince has the experience.
• Danny Alexander knows more about the Treasury portfolio than anyone else in the party, so he is surely the obvious choice.
• It is a ‘no brainer’. Alexander does not have the confidence of the party or the breadth or depth of knowledge. It would be an outrageous case of cronyism
• Vince is a good economist and he still is quite liked by the public.

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 735 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 12th and 16th September.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
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  • * 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.