Opinion from Lord Digby Jones

Cable Should Battle for Business

Published Monday 19 March, 2012

What Vince Cable is having to do as part of this Government is counterintuitive to his DNA as a man of the Left.

All governments benefit from people prodding and poking, speculating about Britain's future, but that's for an away day, not a daily activity. On a practical level, why isn't Cable ensuring new infrastructure is obtained from British manufacturers, such as trains made in Derby not Düsseldorf ? Why is he preoccupied with mansion tax when he should be doing something about the burden on business of national insurance contributions, and if he can't exempt small firms, then at least tax them in other ways, on the money they earn rather than the jobs they create? And why can't he frame discussions about new taxes by setting out transparently whether the 50p income tax rate does or does not raise any more money, and if he does intend to increase the tax take from business, justify it on the basis of using it to take minimum wage youngsters out of taxation?

Ultimately, this is not just about Cable. I'm worried by the growth of an anti-business mood throughout politics, with MPS climbing on the bandwagon to attack big pay deals and bonuses. There is no coherent message across departments about how to help firms. Every Cabinet minister should be given the chance to move to a more pro-business tack.

If Vince does manage to get on the soapbox he would be make a very convincing business champion, precisely because of where he comes from ideologically. Only if he still proves unable to do this may it be time for him to consider his position.