What is Vince Cable communicating with his biting candor?
Keeping in mind that the Liberal Democrats are coalition partners with the Conservative Party, you might not expect one of their leaders and best known faces to slam the Conservatives at the annual Lib Dem conference, but that’s just what Business Secretary Vince Cable did. He said, “Theresa May once characterised the Tories a decade ago as the nasty party. After a few years trying to be nice and inclusive it has reverted to type.”
That wasn’t the end of his quite surprising attack. He called Tories old fashioned, callous, and accused them of prioritising the interests of the wealthy. This won’t do the coalition much good, but politically, was it the right thing to do for Cable?
Well, many analysts have always seen Cable as a leadership contender, and it is strongly believed by some that he was always against forming a coalition with the Conservatives, who are in many ways ideologically at odds with the Liberals. So, perhaps by distancing himself from the Conservatives, Cable has begun to lay down the roots of his own leadership campaign, which he’ll surely base on his historical opposition to the Con-Lib alliance.
On the other hand, perhaps this is just another gaffe in a long line of outspoken mistakes, whereby Cable is cementing his fate; in the past he’s blocked Tory actions and opposed key policies, but the Conservatives are the bigger of the two parties, and if he causes enough disruption, they might push him out of frontline politics.
But perhaps that’s what he wants. Behind the scenes mutterings suggest that Cable wants either the Lib Dems to get out of the coalition before the next general election, or he wants to remove himself from that sphere in order to communicate to voters that he still holds traditional Lib Dem values.
Vince Cable is a down to earth and empathetic speaker, who doesn’t offer a slick image but does offer an image of approachability. Maybe his image would not be damaged at all but strengthened by creating distance between himself and the Tories, even if that means a brief fall from grace.