'Pleb' Cable taunts Tories as poll shows he would boost Lib Dems

The business secretary delivered a 'withering attack' on his coalition partners, dubbing them right-wing 'headbangers'

BY Linda Palermo LAST UPDATED AT 11:36 ON Tue 25 Sep 2012

VINCE CABLE staked his claim for the leadership of the Lib Dems yesterday with a barnstorming party conference speech that attacked prime minister David Cameron and his Tory rival Boris Johnson and firmly established himself as the voice of the party's disgruntled left wing, according to the Daily Mail.

And the glow engendered by his rapturous reception in Brighton will have been heightened this morning by an ICM poll in the Guardian which suggests that under Cable the Lib Dems would see their vote share increase by a third to 19 per cent - a figure that would only see them lose seven of their 57 seats at the next election.

Cable took aim at Conservative infighting, suggesting that the feud between Old Etonians Cameron and Johnson had begun at the school: "Perhaps a pillow fight got out of control in the dormitories." He also taunted underfire Tory Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, saying as a "pleb" himself he couldn't resist making jokes about social class.

He also taunted the Tory right, referring to "headbangers who want a hire-and-fire culture [who] seem to find sacking people an aphrodisiac". Cable defended plans to introduce proper taxation of wealth and land that would "horrify Tory backwoodsmen" but which were popular and right.

The Business Secretary also talked up his widely reported flirtations with the Labour party, pretending to take a text message from Ed Miliband during his speech - "Please Ed, not now" - and praising the virtues of the pre-Blair party of which he was a member in the 1970s, when "it [still] had a soul and new ideas".

But Cable also told the conference that Chancellor George Osborne had agreed funding of £1bn for a bank to help small businesses - unlike in this weekend's episode of the political satire The Thick Of It when the Lib Dems greenlight a £2bn similar enterprise without the Treasury's agreement, as Paul Owen notes in The Guardian. · 

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