by MONITOR
IT'S probably fair to say that the popularity of Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat's economics expert, has played a significant part in bringing his party's competence to the notice of the British public over the past two years. He was generally right about economic trends and he spoke about them in a language people could understand. For some reason, however, he was not part of the Lib Dem's front-line coalition negotiating team following the election although, according to reports, his positive speech at a key meeting of the Lib Dem MP's on Tuesday night was crucial in winning approval for the deal with the Conservatives. So what job could Mr Cable expect in the Con-Lib coalition? Obviously Mr Cameron was not going to name him Chancellor of the Exchequer in preference to his friend George Osborne. The important role of Chief Secretary to the Treasury, perhaps? That went to David Laws instead and Mr Cable was named as Business Secretary with responsibility for overseeing bank reform -- an area on which he has strong views - and co-chairman with Mr Osborne of a commission to examine future structures in the banking business. However, within a few hours the Treasury announced that Mr Osborne was the sole chairman of the commission and Mr Cable merely a member. Mr Cable's problem may be his frank speaking. It is said that he is given to referring to bankers as “pin-stripe Scargills”.