Vince Cable has been on typically candid form on the conference fringe.
His latest pronouncement is on the purpose of the 50p top rate of income tax:
“I would be very surprised if the higher rate of tax does raise much revenue. It is there largely to show that pain is being shared.” Read more
The “new improved” Simon Hughes is suddenly on best behaviour up in Liverpool at the Lib Dem annual conference, after several months of mischief-making. That is the theory. But you don’t have to look too hard or too far to find evidence of his potential trouble-making capacity.
In today’s speech he says that the Liberal Democrats will continue to fight:
On issues which are important to us:
In opposition to a like for like replacement of Trident
In opposition to nuclear power
Scrapping tuition fees
Always defending human rights and civil liberties
And always campaigning against obscene profits and obscene bonuses whilst others struggle to make ends meet.
On Trident we already know Clegg and his party are opposed to the Tories. Defending civil liberties and rubbishing bankers are par for the course for the coalition at this point in time.
But ministers may wish that Hughes would stay silent over tuition fees – not least as they are probably about to go up if anything (depending on the Browne review).
More importantly, his opposition to nuclear power is telling. Not least given that Chris Huhne, the new Lib Dem energy secretary, has signalled his willingness to accept the need for nuclear. (He now says he has ‘no intention of the lights going out under my watch.‘)
Any signs of enduring resistance within the coalition to new nuclear power stations could create nervousness within the industry. Especially as E.ON, the world’s largest utility company, has written to Huhne to demand clarification of remarks made by Huhne last week. Read more
Why do 9,000 people in the public sector earn more than the Prime Minister’s £142,500? It would be good to get the Public Accounts Committee, whose role is to scrutinize public spending for value for money across government, stuck into this question. Read more