Vince Cable was on robust form this morning, being interviewed by John Humphrys on Radio 4’s Today programme. He commented on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s statement that there is “light at the end of the tunnel” regarding the country’s deficit.
Vince acknowledged that the government is roughly in balance on its day-to-day spending. He said, however, that the government would be very foolish to assume that they have turned the corner and that there’s no need to worry about the country’s finances. He added that the government should take advantage of its low lending rate to invest in the economy.
Vince explained his speech in Southport yesterday. Humprhys focussed on this statement from Vince, referring to Brexit voters:
Too many were driven by nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white and the map was coloured imperial pink.
Replying to Humphrys, Vince said:
I know it’s uncomfortable but the simple truth of the matter is the older generation – my generation – the majority voted Brexit, whereas for the younger generation – I’m talking under 25, but indeed a wider group, voted to remain…If you’d read the whole of my speech, to the extent to which I touched on the race issue at all, in 40 minutes, my main criticism was of my own party.
Vince added that the main focus of his speech had been on how to improve inter-generational fairness. However, he argued, some leave voters had been motivated by race:
And I think there’s a couple of bits of evidence which support that. Some of the most effective propaganda at the time – you may remember 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. And when people thought about immigration they weren’t predominantly thinking about people from eastern Europe.
Upset a few people but I stand by my words on Brexit. The voting data bears it out.
Click on the box below to go to the audio of the full Today interview with Vince:
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.