Vince Cable’s uncomfortable truths receive backlash


In a recent interview at his home , Vince Cable promised me he would confront some uncomfortable truths about his own party and society in general. Over the weekend he made good on those promises, and surprise, surprise received a strong backlash for this troubles.

At his spring party conference the Lib Dem leader surveyed his audience, as I have done at Lib dem conferences many times, and concluded that what he saw as a reflection of his party, did not represent much diversity at all, After praising the success of the party in regards to challenging the lack of women within the party, he added:

But to be frank, we have an even bigger challenge to address. Looking around the auditorium, we are very, very white. We must prioritise making our party more ethnically diverse.”

But what caused the biggest media storm was when Cable suggested the uncomfortable truth that many people, particularly elderly people, voted for Brexit on the grounds of immigration. Cable said:

75% of under 25s voted to Remain. But 70% of over 65s voted for Brexit. Too many were driven by a nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white, and the map was coloured imperial pink.”

Some Conservative MP’s were calling for him to resign, whilst others were calling him ‘racist’, and ‘outrageous’.

Cable rebutted the accusations of calling white people racist by stating:

And I think there’s a couple of bits of evidence which support my claims. Some of the most effective propaganda at the time – you may remember [former Ukip leader Nigel] Farage’s advertisements – were queues of dark-faced people, and that was an argument about immigration being prevented.

I spent a lot of the referendum going round mostly prosperous country areas – they weren’t deprived areas of the north – and the overwhelming reason given for voting the way they were, and they were predominantly older groups, were about immigration”.

In Cable’s speech he highlighted perhaps the biggest uncomfortable truth that this nation has had to confront for a generation. That being immigration and xenophobia were the biggest drivers that pushed the UK to leaving the EU, and which overrode the possibility of undermining our prosperity.

This reality will not go away anytime soon. Worse still, things could get worse before they get better. For example, in France, President’s Trump’s former right hand man, Steve Bannon, was at a Front National rally with their leader Marine Le Penn in Lille this weekend There he told Right wing xenophobic party faithful, be proud of your position -racism- wear this claim as a badge of honour:

You are part of a movement that is bigger than that in Italy, bigger than in Poland, bigger than in Hungary.”

Imagine Bannon coming to the UK, to tell Ukip members and other Brexit voters who were driven by xenophobia and racism to be proud of their racist position.

Vince Cable was right to call out bigotry and the lack of diversity within his own party, but acknowledgement is but the first step for change. The bigger question is, how do we turn things around?

Simon Woolley