TEN years after the financial crisis helped to establish York-born Sir Vince Cable as a national politician, he hopes that its legacy will now help to prolong his faltering leadership of the Lib Dems.
By proposing to impose a wealth tax on the richest and selling off state-owned assets like the public stake in RBS, one of the banks bailed out by taxpayers a decade ago, he hopes to create a £100bn “citizens fund” to spread the UK’s prosperity more evenly,
Yet, while this policy attempts to assuage those families who have paid a heavy price for a decade of austerity, the fact remains that the Lib Dems are facing an existential crisis that members cannot ignore. Despite forming a stable coalition with the Tories after the 2010 election, its vote has been squeezed at the last two national polls and the party is now bereft of MPs in many regions, including Yorkshire. However, given the Lib Dems are a staunchly pro-European party and committed to holding a second referendum on Brexit, it’s indicative of their predicament that they have struggled to win over Remain supporters from the Tories and also Labour.
Why is this is so? Is this a lingering legacy of the party’s volte-face on student tuition fees when the party entered government under its former leader Nick Clegg, the illiberalism of his successor Tim Farron on issues like gay rights during the last election or the public struggling to take Sir Vince’s party seriously when, in many respects, the need for a liberal alternative has never been more important? Whatever the reason, the Lib Dems need to find their voice this week if they’re to return to offering a credible option.