Vince Cable’s latest comments show he has completely missed the point about Brexit.
Cable has the unenviable task of trying to resurrect the Liberal Democrats back into relevancy, after Farron’s spectacular failure in 2017. He’s a solid choice – if uninspired. Cable is widely credited for his foresight about the financial crisis, but this has led some to believe that he’s far wiser than the other parliamentarians, rather than acknowledging that he was right about one thing. Cable, it must not be forgotten, helped uphold the Coalition Government which oversaw horrendous changes such as the bedroom tax and the trebling of tuition fees. Yet, Cable seems to be in fact made of teflon. His past hasn’t stuck when people are so desperate for his ‘exit from Brexit’. His latest comments though, shows he will never deliver that.
Cable’s comment (one hopes simply tongue-in-cheek) that £300 million could be spent on the NHS if we cancel Brexit is entirely disingenuous. Cable is outright referencing the false promises of Leave, and that deserves applause because Leave were never in a position to claim the NHS would secure any post-Brexit investment, never mind the amount. However, that Cable did it in this way shows he is falling into the same trap. Cable knows well that he cannot promise one thing on policy spending. Cancelling Brexit will save money, or at least stem the loss of having to pull out of the EU when we’ve already promised spending over the course of the next budget. Cable though is not in Government. He cannot say it will be spent on the NHS and almost nobody right now can say how much cancelling Brexit will even save, given the complete shambles the process has been so far which has provided almost no transparency.
“Leave were never in a position to claim the NHS would secure any post-Brexit investment”
Even as a joke, people could read this and genuinely think there is hope for the NHS, which is exactly the low-blow tactic Leave used. Furthermore, by making such an audacious claim then he gives the electorate yet more reasons not to trust politicians, which was a sentiment that got us into this mess in the first place.
Cable could have made a dig at Leave’s promises in an infinitely better way, without producing what sounds like a soundbite of yet more false promises for the NHS. Rhetoric does matter. It’s how politicians win support. Language has never mattered more in an era of fake news and political smears. Cable though needed a headline. He’s been overshadowed by Corbyn’s surge, and May’s collapse in popularity. While Brexit dominates the news, the Lib Dems have been clear in their opposition and yet, they just don’t feature in the conversation. A quick jibe at Leave gets some attention, but the way it happened was cynical and employed tactics almost everybody is sick of at this point.
The Liberal Democrats and Cable haven’t really learned anything that at all, which is why every day they slip into deeper irrelevancy. The country needs strong opposition to Brexit. This is one of the most pivotal moments in British modern history, but with a leader as insignificant as Cable, the Lib Dems won’t be leading the charge.