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Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable Speaks to Packed Hall in Cambridge

Vince Cable Packed HallAt a packed hall in the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law, West Road, Cambridge, last week the new Liberal Democrat Leader, Vince Cable addressed party members as part of a nationwide speaking tour which has taken him from West Country to Scotland in two crowded and strenuous weeks.

Vince Cable, remarking on the massive polarisation of British politics today, told members he was optimistic for the future of the Liberal Democratic Party, especially when looking at the extreme positions being adopted by both the Conservatives and the Labour Party. Theresa May was now in a loose coalition with the hard right DUP and the Labour Party was now in the tight grip of Momentum, with the moderate Labour MPs intimidated by bullying and scared of deselection.

As an economist he felt strongly that sound economic policies were now more important than ever - but Labour's approach was one of "fantasy" while the Conservatives were overdoing austerity and making a bad situation worse by the insistence on cutting benefits coupled by a refusal to raise taxes. Both needed to remember that "the numbers are important".

Vince Cable Speaking CambsHe conceded that "the call for a 2nd Referendum on the terms of the final deal did not play well in the general election". However he went on to say that "The EU debate will move in our direction, business is not investing and the economy is being sustained by consumer credit and house price - and this cannot continue."

He said that the government had no idea at all of the complexity of Brexit - the single issue of the aviation industry involved 9 treaties alone. Euratom was not even political, being connected with nuclear research and development,the transport of fissile matterials and the production, sale and distributions of materials containing radioactive isotopes, mainly for medical purposes. Yet because the dispute-resolving procedure (if it is ever used) would mean reference to the European Court then the May government is insisting we leave that body too at the cost of immense upheaval.

Vince insisted that the party "must offer an exit from Brexit" to tumultuous applause.

Turning to other important policy issues, Vince Cable declared he would lead on a number of issues that are both socially and economically crucial:

  • reducing inequalities of wealth and income
  • reducing inequalities of opportunity and increasing social mobility
  • replacing the present developer-led model of housing providing with a new approach in which local social need is a factor
  • restoring council's powers to build social housing and liberating them from Treasury control
  • restoring careers advice and guidance to schools
  • restoring Further Education to provide training and apprenticeship opportunities for all young people
  • improving economic performance by greater co-operation between business and government

The meeting was wound up with a short vote of thanks from Andrew Duff, former East of England MEP, who descibed Brexit, in passing, as potentially "the biggest break with Europe since 412 AD".