Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Of Sandal Wearers and Flip-Flops: The Inexplicable Popularity of Vince Cable

Guido at the weekend brought the attention of myself, and of course many others, to Andrew Neil’s expert demolition of Vince Cable’s reputation as the Greatest Economic Mind Since Keynes. Now I see Paxman has had a go, specifically on Cable’s tax plans.

Andrew Neil, and/or whoever does his research, deserves a pint or three for their work. The interview, thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded or whatever, is only available until next Wednesday (21st), but here is a short summary of the main points:

Cable on quantative easing

Flip: Described q.e. as “the Robert Mugabe school of economics” (January 2009)
Flop: “The authorities threw the kitchen sink at the problems and were right to do so … creating money, quantitive easing …” (Setpember 2009)

Cable on interest rate policy

Flip: In 2003, dismissed an IMF warning that UK borrowing and asset prices were too high. He said that we shouldn’t be panicked by the IMF into tightening our belts.
Flop: Now says that he was arguing for interest rate policies to deal with housing inflation and that we needed to change the way the Bank of England operated.

Cable on fiscal stimulus

Flip: “It isn’t possible to run massive budget deficits, because the Government’s public finances won’t allow it.” (Autumn 2008) “It is entirely wrong for the Government to stimulate the economy by yet more public spending” (October 2008)
Flop: “We believe the government stimulus is right and necessary” (February 2009)

Cable on the Lloyds/HBoS merger

Flip: “We have no quarrel with what the Prime Minister did.” (October 2008)
Flop: Complained of PM’s “murky dealings” and Lloyds being “dragged down by the dead weight of HBoS”. (March 2009)
(To be fair, he admits a change of view here, and that the merger was a mistake).

Cable on Bank of England Independence

Flip: “The Government must not compromise the independence of the Bank by telling it to slash interest rates” (September 2008)
Flop: Urges the chancellor “to write to the governor demanding a large cut in interest rates” (October 2008)

So will the media continue to use Vince as a reliable rent-a-quote? Will left-leaning producers still choose Vince as the acceptable choice of a left-wing politician giving economic commentary?

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