Dr Cable’s Prescription for the Economy
Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 1st October, 2008
Deep in the Tory heartland of the Notting Hill set, Vince Cable gave his perspective on the current financial crisis to a standing-room only Food for Thought event put on by Kensington and Chelsea Liberal Democrats this evening, compered by the former Strictly Come Dancing producer and local party chair, Robin Meltzer. Regular viewers of Newsnight or listeners to Radio 4’s Today programme have had ample opportunity to savour Vince’s experience and common sense in recent weeks; what is more. he is a heavyweight figure with a light touch. He gave the meeting the compliment of trying out new ideas on us, reflecting some of the discussion that has been going on within the parliamentary party.
Although giving the Bank of England its independence was a key LibDem idea actually implemented by Labour, Vince believes more government intervention in its affairs might now be advisable, so that the central goal of keeping inflation down is complemented by a move to lower interest rates. He was critical of the American rescue package that Congress rejected the other night, though he does accept that there has to be a plan, not only in the United States, but in Europe as well. It was probably a mistake to demutualise building socities a few years ago, Vince argued, though he was strongly criticised when he said so at the time. And we have to accept that house prices are going to fall much further, more banks are going to come under pressure and things are going to get noticeably worse before they get better. Unemployment is likely to rise significantly towards Christmas.
It is hard to make people feel confident and reassured in an atmosphere of such economic gloom, but Vince managed. In contrast, young George Osborne at the Conservative conference in Birmingham this week looked like a frightened schoolboy who had bitten off more than he could chew. Who would you choose to help steer the UK out of global choppy waters: Dr Cable or Mr Osborne? It’s a no-brainer.