“Vince is a gent” says one, “and doesn’t want to be Deputy Leader if and when he jumps ship. Also, he is very strongly of the view that there should be somebody senior, on the Party’s Left, outside the Coalition tent pissing in”.
This is why, I understand, Cable told LibDem Simon Hughes of his decision after Clegg and before anyone else. Cable admires Hughes as a straight man and good MP. (He’s certainly right on both counts).
However, on other fronts the loose cannon/evasive real Coalition policy contagion is spreading. Cable is widely suspected of wanting a tougher line on future CGT levels, particularly on second homes. But Tories like Iain Duncan-Smith and John Redwood are pushing for clarification of what the CGT tiers will be, and what protection there will be for frugal older folks who (thanks to 0% interest rates) lack anything other than property and gold in which to invest. Redwood in particular is being vocally vociferous on this last point.
Vince insisted today that the Coalition isn’t split over increases to non-business capital gains tax, but this isn’t strictly correct. At least two Tory Cabinet members want clear distinctions made between gains used for retirement income, and those based purely on speculative property selling. Others observe (quite rightly) that it might take another million civil servants just to argue about the difference in each case.
But Tories remain wary of Vince Cable’s view that people with property worth a million Pounds are ‘rich’ in any meaningful sense. The coming correction in property prices could very easily make Cable right and the Tories wrong. But if you’re shrewd enough aged 60 to see a crash coming, and decide to sell that Barnes terraced house to a thick banker, should you be punished?
This whole area is a minefield, and Cable deserves some sympathy. But to suggest that there is no rainbow of Cabinet opinion on this is to insult The Slog’s intelligence. Here in the Roost, we remain close observers of What Vince Did Next.