Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Over 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.
Currently the Lib Dems do not have a shadow chancellor. Vince Cable held the role in 2010. Danny Alexander has been chief secretary to the treasury for the past four years. Who do you think should represent the Lib Dems in the ‘Ask the Chancellors’ televised debate during the 2015 general election campaign?
63% – Vince Cable
3% – Someone else
6% – Don’t know
By an overwhelming 63% to 28% Lib Dem members want Vince Cable rather than Danny Alexander to represent the party on the economy at the next general election. Among the small number of those who opted for someone else, David Laws was the single most popular choice.
I’m not going to feign neutrality on this one: I think my fellow party members have called this exactly right. As I wrote of Vince a month ago:
He is, by a long, long way, the best-qualified candidate. I say that for two reasons.
First, his understanding of the British economy far exceeds that of either Danny (or Steve [Webb]). It is impossible to imagine anyone other than Vince writing as good and nuanced an account of the Coalition’s economic policies as he did last year in the New Statesman: When the facts change, should I change my mind?
Secondly, his understanding of the politics far exceeds that of Danny (though not necessarily Steve). Vince has walked the tightrope of respecting collective cabinet responsibility while signalling quite clearly when and why he disagrees with the Conservatives, most notably on immigration.
That’s what I think. Here’s a sample of your comments…
• Danny can’t represent Lib Dems – he is too close to Osborne and too far from party policy
• A former press officer for the Cairngorms or a former Chief Economist for Shell? If you don’t pick
• There are many ways in which Vince would be better, more trusted and untainted by working with Gideon. But Danny can and must take ownership of the personal allowance/tax cut and would be person most likely to be in the treasury in a future coalition so ought to be our point man on this.
• Vince would do a much better job of it than Danny. He is a skilled media performer – we should use our strongest asset
• Danny has done well but Vince has more authority
• Danny is the man at the Treasury
• Both are capable and intelligent, but Vince edges it out as the most recognisable one of the two and having been in the role before.
• Danny is too closely associated with the Coalition. We need someone who can set out the Lib Dems’ distinctive pitch.
• Choosing anyone but Danny sends a very poor message about how we see our role in the treasury
• I should like it to be Vince – but realistically of course it will be Danny.
• Even as a sceptic of many of Vince’s positions, he is quite clearly the strongest candiate
• I like Danny and am closer to him politically, but in terms of gravitas, message and public appeal it simply has to be Vince.
• Danny has a grasp of all the detail and comes across as a truthful competent man who can be trusted.
• Danny because he’s the senior Lib Dem economic minister and would be our Chancellor in a Lib Dem govt
• Danny Alexander should be able to put the case forward for what he has done in government and what Lib Dems would do if given a coalition opportunity again. Vince Cable would only be there to appeal to those who already like him, not to set out our case.
• I can’t think of anyone apart from these two, so Vince. I don’t think Danny would do a good job setting us apart – my only reservation about Vince is that he might overshadow Nick (or at least the media buzz would be unhelpful).
• Very torn here – Danny Alexander is sound but unexciting. Vince Cable has always had a good grip on things but gets penalised for governing well.
• It would be downright bizarre to put forwards someone who hasn’t been at the Treasury. Besides, Danny Alexander is better equipped to challenge George Osborne, since he knows what’s been going on at the Treasury. Vince Cable has been in a completely different department.
• It is pretty remarkable it hasn’t occurred to anyone this person should be elected. We ought really to have MPs elect a shadow cabinet- including both current ministers and backbenchers.
- 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 745 responded in full – and a further 87 in part – to the latest survey, which was conducted between 16th and 22nd April.
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* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.