‘Vince Cable is a building block’: Lib Dems on the party’s future

Vince Cable is officially the new leader of the Liberal Democrats. He stood unopposed in the leadership election, with no other candidates putting their name forward before nominations closed at 4pm on Thursday.

Cable takes over after a disappointing general election performance for the party, who had hoped to make more gains after it presented itself as the party of the 48% who voted Remain under the leadership of Tim Farron.

We asked our readers what they made of Vince Cable getting the top job, as well as their views on where the party goes from here. Below, we share a selection of their responses.

‘I’m optimistic about the party’s future’

I would have liked Tim Farron to stay, but understood his reasons for stepping down.

I am optimistic about the party’s future. We reached our nadir in 2015, but under Farron we had a huge upsurge in party members, bringing a lot of enthusiasm and fresh ideas for the new leader to build on. There’s a huge opportunity for change in British politics at the moment, with the marked division between left and right politics leaving a space for a party with solid centre ground ideals to offer an alternative.

Vince Cable is a respected, well known senior member of the party with a sound economic background, and he’s already shown that he’s willing to listen to the party members when deciding the direction we should take.
Cara Fox, 31, Bristol

‘There’s a shift back to two party politics’

At times of change things tend to get more polarized, so we have a bit of a shift back in the direction of two party politics, and the Labour Party is a more interesting place to be for the next few years, especially for young people.

But I am not pessimistic. Lib Dem membership and engagement are nice and high, and many of the members have a concern about political funding, which means they recognise the need to do their part to keep more political options on the table.

I have not mentioned Brexit much, but that’s not because it is unimportant. It’s because I support the current Lib Dem position. Labour now needs to stop giving the impression that it is riding both horses. All that the Lib Dems need to do is keep on with their current line.
Chris, 55, Gloucestershire

‘There is a huge void in the centre ground’

Vince Cable is a very sensible and well respected politician. He will steady the ship and hopefully move us in the right direction, but it isn’t the young, exciting politician that I would have hoped for, like Jo Swinson.

I think that the party is at a critical point in its history. We are operating in a political environment where there is a huge void in the centre ground. Labour have lurched left and the Conservatives are so far right that Liam Fox made it into the cabinet. The opportunity to be the only party taking a sensible stance on both economic and social issues is there for the taking – whether the reserved politeness of Mr Cable is the right profile to take that remains to be seen.

Chris Upjohn, 30, London

‘Vince has performed reasonably well’

When Tim Farron announced his resignation Vince was my fourth choice for leader, with Jo Swinson, Ed Davey and Norman Lamb all ahead of him. However, I respect their decisions not to stand, and in the last few weeks Vince has performed reasonably well.

The party really needs to decide exactly what it is for, and to try much harder to differentiate itself from Labour and the Conservatives. For me, that means embracing liberalism in its entirety, rather than picking and choising bits that the party membership do and do not like, as the party has done in the past.

I’m not expecting some kind of dramatic Macron-style rise to power under capable, but I am optimistic. I’d like to think that having 20-30 MPs by the end of the next election, whenever that may be, is still achievable.

Andy Briggs, 22, student

‘It’s a polarised political environment’

It’s difficult for the Lib Dems to get a foothold in such a polarised political environment. Labour and the Conservatives are both providing populist options on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

I joined the party because I was attracted by the ‘Orange Book’ style liberalism the party followed under Nick Clegg. Vince Cable’s experience and strong economic background could provide a handle for public support that Tim Farron just wasn’t able to provide in the end. I hope that the stark contrast the new leader provides can lead to fresh interest in the party.

Tom Moore, 26, London

‘Vince has the ability to appeal to the moderate right’

Vince has the ability to appeal to the moderate right voter, especial the older voter who like him and what he stands for. It is clear that he will never be long term but it will enable Jo Swinson time to develop. Vince represents an building block for the future of the party.

Jonathan Le Feuvre, 46

‘We made the right call on Brexit’

People talk about Cable’s role in the coalition, but that was some time ago now. I think you have to remember that the Liberal Democrats have to choose a leader from a pool of only 12 MPs this time. As you’re only allowed one famous Liberal Democrat at a time, the leader has to be a good media performer and Cable is certainly that.

As people come to see that we made the right call on Brexit, people will start to think about voting for us again.

David Johnson, 57, Harrogate

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