Vince Cable was speaking in Manchester on Tuesday night at the IoD dinner. I thought he was disappointing. He had no real explanation, or solution for the current economic blight. One of my table mates, Phil Jones, has blogged here about his thoughts on his performance, which I don't disagree with.
I think he ended badly, particularly given he had an audience of business people. He trotted out a few lines about how business can get us out of the recession. Well, he's right, it's just that I don't think he really meant it. Politicians have very poor understanding of the relationship between business and government. They think of the City, the FTSE 250 and big hitters. The reality of business is invisible to them. For an economic genius like Cable is hailed to be, this is pretty poor.
The relationship between the tax take and the ability of businesses to create taxable wealth is a fragile one. Too often businesses are seen as the greedy source who needs to be squeezed just that bit more. Squeeze too hard and the state cuts off the supply of revenue. Unleash the beast and there's a fear that this just creates an orgy of fat cat greed. But a clever Liberal Democrat could see this not only for what it is: an opportunity to be brave, bold and visionary, but also to untap a groundswell of support.