Saturday, 14 March 2009

Scottish Conference: Vince Cable

As well as taking part in the Q&A session yesterday, Vince Cable also gave a keynote address to the Scottish Conference today.

Vince highlighted that blame for our current economic problems was widely shared: it's not just the bankers, as there were also failures by regulators and by politicians. He very elegantly demolished Gordon Brown's contention that the recession was purely a global problem by highlighting the many things this government had got wrong, chiefly failing to deal with the housing boom by not including house prices in their measures to tackle inflation.

Although the speech was quite sober and downbeat in style, the content was as usual razor-sharp. Vince noted the exceptionally cosy relationship between the Labour government and the world of high finance, going as far as to call this 'corrupt'.

And he also noted the difficulties that an independent Scotland would have had in dealing with the financial crisis by showing that if Scotland had to deal with the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland, it would have cost many times the country's GDP to bail it out, leading to Iceland-style economic collapse.

He also said that successive governments had failed to deal with issues relating to poverty and that many of the problems in Scotland were no better than they were during his time as a Glasgow city councillor a few decades ago.

But he warned that if we were to tackle these, then governments would have to be disciplined in their approach to public spending. And that would mean cuts not only to things we're ideologically opposed to such as ID cards, but also some things which aren't bad ideas in themselves - such as child trust funds - but which are probably a lower priority than some other areas.

All in all, Vince showed yet again what a star he is and he got a deserved standing ovation from the conference-goers.

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