Thursday 1 September 2011

Cynical populism from Vince Cable

When I was working for Oliver Letwin when shadow chancellor I would often issue press releases warning the level of total debt - household, government, business - in the UK economy was far too high. Oliver was ridiculed by the then Labour government, by many commentators and even by the Conservative back-benchers. This narrative was eventually crowded out. This was 2003, the economy was healthy and Labour were unassailable.

Fast forward to the financial crisis and the build up to the 2010 election and it seemed everyone was talking about Vince Cable and the 'fact' he had warned us all of the unsustainability of such a highly geared economy. Funny, I don't remember Vince being anywhere on this issue in 2003.

Now to the present and yesterday's intervention by Cable calling for quicker, more fundamental, reforms in the banking sector. This is a cynical intervention which doesn't take into account the realities of reforms already being implemented or today's banking sector. Employer groups such as the CBI believe more reform is required, but not to the extent that squeezes credit further and forces its price even higher.

Cable however - despite holding the position in government which is supposed to champion business - ignores the facts and plays to the gallery. It is a populist view that bankers are the cause of many of the ills in society. On some radio phone-ins recently they were even blamed for the rioting and looting. This demonstrates just how lazy and misguided an opinion it is. That is forgivable for a caller to talk radio but cynical populism like this is unacceptable from a cabinet minister.    

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