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Vince Cable

Sir Vince served as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills during the coalition government.

Sir Vince Cable shares insights from government with politics students

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has shared insights from his unique years in government with University of Exeter politics students.

Sir Vince discussed life as part as part of a coalition government, managing economic turmoil and the rewards of serving constituents during the event.

Students were able to learn from his first-hand experiences of working with the Treasury and how national budgets are coordinated. Sir Vince was also able to explain the background to the current wave of public-sector worker strikes.

Sir Vince explained the difficulties of financing public investment and predicted taxes would rise this year. He said the UK needed more localised decision-making structures and the large size of the financial services industry in the country still had the potential to create economic instability.

As part of his lecture, organised by Dr Ekaterina Kolpinskaya and chaired by Dr Catarina Thomson, Sir Vince discussed how politicians cope with the tensions between pre-election promises and decisions they have to make while in office, and how compromise and cross-party cooperation is essential.

Sir Vince spoke about the importance of the backgrounds of lawmakers, and his concerns that there are now fewer previous manual workers who become MPs.

He had fascinating stories from his time being selected as a political candidate and getting elected, as well as his views on the Liberal Democrats electoral prospects and what hadn’t worked for the party in recent contests.

Sir Vince said he regretted calling Gordon Brown “Mr Bean” as part of an infamous House of Commons exchange but said his friend had not taken the phrase personally.

Sir Vince, former MP for Twickenham, served in the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet as Spokesman on Trade and Industry from 1999 to 2003, and Shadow Chancellor from 2003 to 2010. He was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2006 to 2010 and was known for his analysis of the banking crisis in 2008. He served as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills during the coalition government.

Sir Vince was educated at Nunthorpe Grammar School, York and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and received a PhD at Glasgow University. He worked as Treasury Finance Officer for the Kenyan Government between 1966 and 1968. From 1968 to 1974 he lectured in economics at Glasgow University. He then worked in a range of senior economic and foreign policy roles, before becoming Shell International’s Chief Economist in 1995.


Date: 1 February 2023

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