Attacks on the Lib Dems have become common in recent weeks, and it’s plain to see why. Their jumping into bed with the Tories was hard enough to stomach for many who voted for them last month. Their joint budget yesterday is doubly galling. It resonates for me: throughout the election campaign, I spoke to people who already understood that the Lib Dems are “Tories in the City”.
But somehow Vince Cable had always escaped that censure. He was Saint Vince, economic guru who would have avoided all this mess, or gotten us out of it quicker than most others.
Not any more. Liam Byrne has taken my analogy a step further, calling Vince Cable the ‘new Norman Lamont‘:
“As I saw Vince Cable – a man I like – gamely defending today’s budget, I couldn’t help but think: Vince has become the new Norman Lamont. He is now a subscriber to the argument that ‘unemployment is a price worth paying’. He told us he was ‘proud’ of a budget that not only raised VAT, but froze child benefit (Tory MP’s in the House of Commons actually cheered this). I couldn’t help but think of Norman Lamont’s phrase ‘Je ne regrette rien’…”
“So, let’s be clear. Today, was not a plan demanded by economic necessity. It was a political choice. And the Tories and their Liberal colleagues chose to hit growth, hit jobs and hit the incomes of people on modest incomes. Just like Norman Lamont and John Major.”
Byrne’s intervention is neatly timed. Yesterday, Cable and Lamont were spotted gleefully conversing on College Green. Having seen the budget, we know they have more in common than we may first have thought.