Vince Cable

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Sir Vince Cable

Sir John Vincent “Vince” Cable (born 9 May 1943 in York, England) is a British Liberal Democrat politician. He was Secretary ofState for Business, Innovation and Skills in the Cameron I Cabinet from May 2010 to June 2015, and as such was also President of the Board of Trade. He was leader of the Liberal Democrats from June 2017 to July 2019.


Studies, professional career and member of several political parties

After attending Nunthorpe Grammar School in York, he studied science and economics at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge. He then undertook postgraduate studies in economics at the University of Glasgow, graduating with a Philosophiae Doctor (Ph.D.). During his studies he was a member of the Liberal Party.

He then served as financial advisor to the government of Kenya from 1966 to 1968 before becoming a lecturer at the University of Glasgow and the London School of Economics between 1968 and 1974. In 1970 he stood unsuccessfully as a Labour Party candidate for a seat in theHouse of Commons, but was defeated by Tam Galbraith, the Conservative holder of the Glasgow Hillhead constituency and father of the present leader of the House of Lords, Thomas Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde. However, he was subsequently a member of Glasgow City Council for some time.

After serving as First Secretary in the Diplomatic Service of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1974 and 1976 and as Deputy Director of theOverseas Development Institute, he was Special Adviser to the then Secretary of State for Industry and Commerce, John Smith, between 1978 and 1979.

In 1979 he sought nomination as the Labour Party candidate for the House of Commons election in the Hampstead constituency, but was defeated by Ken Livingstone, who in turn lost to Geoffrey Finsberg at the 1979 House of Commons election.

He then served on the staff of the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations and, after leaving the Labour Party in February 1982, became a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), formed a year earlier, and stood unsuccessfully for that party in the York constituency at the 1983 and 1987 House of Commons elections.

Political career with the Liberal Democrats

In 1988 he joined the newly formed Liberal Democrats and stood unsuccessfully again for a seat in the House of Commons in the 1992 general election in the Twickenham constituency. His last professional position, from 1995 to 1997, was as Chief Economist of Royal Dutch Shell, of which he had been an employee since 1990.

He was finally elected as a Member of the House of Commons for the first time at the May 1997 House of Commons election, following multiple unsuccessful bids, and has represented the Twickenham constituency ever since, improving his polling from an initial 45.1 per cent to 54.4 per cent of the electoral vote at the May 2010 House of Commons election.

He was also Liberal Democrat spokesman for the Treasury between January 1997 and January 1999, before becoming spokesman for Trade and Industry between January 1999 and October 2003. Most recently, he was Liberal Democrat Chief Spokesman for the Treasury from October 2003 to May 2010, making him a potential Chancellor of the Exchequer for his party if he won the election.

Within the Liberal Democrats, he has also been Deputy Leader since March 2006, and between 15 October and 18 December 2007 also held the position of Acting Party Leader in this capacity. He then handed over this post to the newly elected party leader Nick Clegg.

Following the formation of the coalition with the Conservative Party after the House of Commons elections in May 2010, he was appointed Secretary ofState for Business, Innovation and Skills by Prime Minister David Cameron on 12 May 2010, making him one of five Liberal Democrats in the Cameron I Cabinet. He is also President of the Board of Trade.

In this capacity, he intends to deal with the difficult issue of the privatisation of the UK’s national postal service, Royal Mail.[1] In addition, he wants to draft a special law to regulate mergers, as in the case of the confectionery company Cadbury plc, the so-called “Cadbury Law”.[2] On the other hand, the introduction of a tax on academics to support universities is being examined.[3]

In the 2015 House of Commons election, Cable lost his Twickenham constituency, which he had held for the Liberal Democrats since 1997, to his Conservative opponent Tania Mathias.[4] Cable rejected Nick Clegg’s offer to provide him with a Life Peerage title for a seat in the House of Lords of Parliament following this defeat by placing him on the Dissolution Honours List.[5] He was instead knighted in the Dissolution Honours and has been allowed to call himself Sir ever since.[6]

On 18 April 2017, Cable declared his intention to stand again in the Twickenham constituency for the Liberal Democrats in the forthcoming House of Commons election in June.[7] He won the constituency by a margin of 9,762 votes over Tania Mathias, who was standing again for the Conservative Party.[8] He was elected unopposed as Liberal Democrat party leader in June 2017. During his time as party leader, the party made significant gains in the polls as it was the only British party to take a clear position against Brexit.[9]

In May 2019, Cable announced his retirement as party leader.[10] In mid-July he was replaced by Jo Swinson, who prevailed after a membership poll.[11]


Vince Cable is also the author of numerous books on political and economic topics. His publications include:

  • The Storm: The World Economic Crisis and What it Means. Atlantic Books, 2009, ISBN 1-84887-057-4.
  • Globalisation & Global Governance. Thomson Learning, 1999, ISBN 0-8264-6169-7.
  • China and India: Economic Reform and Global Integration. Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1995, ISBN 1-899658-00-9.
  • The World’s New Fissures. Demos, 1995, ISBN 1-898309-35-3.
  • Trade Blocs: The Future of Regional Integration. The Brookings Institution, 1994, ISBN 0-905031-81-4.
  • Commerce of Culture: Experience of Indian Handicrafts. Lancer International, 1990, ISBN 81-7062-004-X.
  • with Bishnodat Persaud (ed.): Developing with Foreign Investment. Routledge, 1987, ISBN 0-7099-4825-5.
  • with Betsy Baker: World Textile Trade and Production Trends. Economist Intelligence Unit, 1983, ISBN 0-86218-084-8.
  • Case Studies in Development Economics. Heinemann Educ., 1982, ISBN 0-435-33937-0.
  • with Jeremy Clarke: British Electronics and Competition with Newly Industrialising Countries. Overseas Development Institute, 1981, ISBN 0-85003-076-5.
  • Evaluation of the Multifibre Arrangement and Negotiating Options. Commonwealth Secretariat, 1981, ISBN 0-85092-204-6.
  • British Interests and Third World Development. Overseas Development Institute, 1980, ISBN 0-85003-070-6.
  • World Textile Trade and Production. Economist Intelligence Unit, London 1979, ISBN 0-900351-85-3.
  • with Ann Weston: South Asia’s Exports to the EEC: Obstacles and Opportunities. Overseas Development Institute, 1979, ISBN 0-85003-068-4.
  • World Textile Trade and Production. Economist Intelligence Unit, London 1979, OCLC 5210569.
  • Import Controls: The Case Against. Fabian Society, 1977, ISBN 0-7163-1335-9.
  • Whither Kenyan Emigrants?. ” Fabian Society, 1969, ISBN 0-7163-2018-5.

Web links

Commons: Vince Cable– Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. FINANCIAL TIMES DEUTSCHLAND: Head of the day: Vince Cable – The tradition breaker (September 12, 2010)(Memento of September 13, 2010 in the Internet Archive)
  2. THE TELEGRAPH: Vince Cable in push for ‘Cadbury law’ (October 23, 2010)
  3. BBC NEWS: Vince Cable ditches graduate tax option for England (October 9, 2010)
  4. Election results shocks: The big name losers.BBC News, 8 May 2015, accessed 8 May 2015.
  5. Vince Cable among four Lib Dems to turn down Lords offers from Clegg. In: The Guardian. 15. May 2015, accessed 16 May 2015
  6. Dissolution Honours 2015, Prime Minister’s Office press release, 27 August 2015, accessed 10 September 2015.
  7. Mortimer, Caroline:Vince Cable to run for parliament again after Theresa May’s snap general election announcement.The Independent, 18 April 2017, accessed 19 April 2017 (English).
  8. Election 2017: Lib Dem leader Tim Farron says May should go.BBC News, 9 June 2017, accessed 9 June 2017.
  9. Peter Walker Political correspondent: Jo Swinson elected new Lib Dem leader. In: The Guardian. 22.July 2019, ISSN 0261-3077( [accessed 22 July 2019]).
  10. Lucy Knight: Vince Cable to step down as Lib Dem leader on 23 July. In: The Guardian. 24.May 2019, ISSN 0261-3077(English, theguardian .com [accessed 1 July 2019]).
  11. 39-year-old Scot: British anti-Brexit party LibDem elects Jo Swinson as new party leader.Retrieved on July 22, 2019.