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Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Sunday, 27 April 2008 13:26 UK

Vince Cable on Lib Dem progress

On the Politics Show, Sunday 27 April 2008, Jon Sopel interviewed Vince Cable MP

Vince Cable MP
Vince Cable MP

Vince Cable on Lib Dem progress

JON SOPEL: To kick over the traces of the week, I'm joined now by the Liberal Democrats Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable. Welcome to the Politics Show.

Thank you very much for coming in.

The 10p tax band remains, are you clear in your mind who is going to be neutrally affected by this, who will still be hit.

VINCE CABLE: Well, we know that roughly five million people were going to lose on average, two hundred pound a year each. And most of those are low paid people, very low incomes and even after this muted compensational package, many of them will still be losers.

A big group of these are people on part time earnings, let's say carers, who are only allowed under the benefit rule, to work fourteen hours a week. Now even if they're well above the minimum wage, say they get ten pound an hour, they will still be caught in this tax package and lose quite a lot of money and there are these six hundred thousand women between sixty and sixty five again, they're being promised the winter fuel allowance which I get, and I'm not a woman and I'm not particularly poor, unless you think MPs are poor. But you know, they are going to be hit and it's very difficult to see that they will be properly compensated.

So, most of these five million will still be losers and even those who are being offered tax credits, which is Gordon Brown's favourite mechanism, many of them will not be able to claim it. We know there's a very poor take up rate, particularly for those without children.

JON SOPEL: And you have given the government a mighty kicking over this. When you were acting Leader, you gave Gordon Brown a kicking over all sorts of other things, which seem to strike a chord. The government is doing really badly why aren't the Liberal Democrats doing better.

VINCE CABLE: Well we're not doing badly. I think the polls this morning had had us on 20% which could be higher and I'd like to see it higher, but it's certainly not at all bad.

And I think that what will happen over the next two years is people clearly are angry with the government and they may get angrier because the economy is deteriorating. They're looking at the Conservatives initially, asking are these a credible government. I think they will find that they're pretty flakey on a lot of subjects, particularly on the economy. Then they will look more carefully at us, as a third option.

JON SOPEL: You don't think that's a touch complacent do you. Do you think the Liberal Democrats, given the scale of the government's problems, are doing as well as you'd hoped they would be.

VINCE CABLE: No we're not doing as well as we'd hoped we'd be. I'm not complacent. We can do better and should do better. There is a big opportunity, we're not doing badly, but we could do a lot better and...

JON SOPEL: So why aren't you doing better. If it is disappointing, what is disappointing at the moment.

VINCE CABLE: Well I think it's a question of us putting in more work. Being credible on the issues that really matter to people.

I mean a lot of responsibility comes on to me because it is the thing that people are worried about more than anything else is the economy and it's the job of me and my team to show that we're actually more credible on economic policy than the Conservatives, actually, we are because a lot of us have got serious background in this area and we've been right about the crisis in the banking system and the difficulties of the economy. But we've got a communication job to do.

JON SOPEL: So, just mark our card for us. We were talking a little earlier on the programme about expectation management. Are you going to make net gains on Thursday.

VINCE CABLE: We're not making predictions. I think William Hague gave you a very sensible answer earlier on that it's actually very difficult to make meaningful predictions.

JON SOPEL: Is this going to be a tough election night for you.

VINCE CABLE: I think it is going be quite tough because weżre defending positions we won at a high point three years ago at least in those seats which are replacing councillors who came up three years ago.

JON SOPEL: I think you made one net gain last year, better than that?

VINCE CABLE: No, I'm not getting in to quantities... (interjection)

JON SOPEL: Not even that.

VINCE CABLE: Well let me explain just a simple point why. You see when you talk about net gains of seats, you have some very big urban seats and you have very small rural seats.

I mean do you treat them equally or do you weight them in some sort of way. I mean we've realized and all the parties have realized that getting in to that kind of prediction game... (?)

JON SOPEL: Okay, we haven't got a lot of time left, I just wanted to just quickly talk about the dispute at Grangemouth. And of course you once worked for Shell, so know quite a bit about the oil industry. What is the role of government in this.

Should the government be intervening directly, to try to bring the two sides together to try and force a resolution?

VINCE CABLE: Well the government certainly shouldn't be taking sides in an industrial dispute. They should be very active in getting the sides together because a lot of damage is being done.

It isn't simply the effect of the stoppage because there are knock-on effects- the pipeline will be closed for much longer periods. We now know there's a lot of collateral damage to the economy. I don't think the government had appreciated that this was actually a line that takes roughly a third of British crude oil and not just the products of the refinery. So a lot of damage is being done.

I mean where the government also has to be ready is if this spreads and we do get shortages, that they are able to ensure that there are, in the short run, imports of products and that maybe eventually having to use some of the big strategic reserve that the country has got to make sure that there's adequate supply, so the government has a role but it isn't actually taking sides on the dispute.

JON SOPEL: Okay. Vince Cable. Thank you very much for being with us.


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NB:These transcripts were typed from a recording and not copied from original scripts.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for their accuracy.

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The Politics Show Sunday 4 May 2008 at 1200BST on BBC One.
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