Peter Hoskin

Cable’s 50-50 warning

Cable's 50-50 warning
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As compliments go, there's something slightly backhanded about Vince Cable's claim that, "Having worked with [the Tories] at close quarters, I've been pleasantly surprised that they're not as I'd envisaged them." And that's just one of the little nuggets embedded within his interview with Decca Aitkenhead this morning. The Business Secretary touches on everything from what he thinks of George Osborne ("he's clearly able") to his own ability to craft a joke ("I'm actually quite good at one-liners"). If you want a sense of where Cable is at, then Aitkenhead's piece is worth a quick read.

But if you're stuck for time, then – as George Eaton notes over the the Staggers blog – the most important passage is this one:

"The risk of a double-dip recession remains, [Cable] acknowledges, very real – perhaps a little more so in his mind than the Treasury's. 'As I recall,' he says, 'the government's own forecasting risk puts it at something like one in four, one in five.' But asked for his own estimate, he says, 'Well, you know, certainly well below 50-50,' which sounds somewhat higher than one in five."

It's a claim which reminds me of another Aitkenhead interview: the one where Alistair Darling suggested, in 2008, that our economic circumstances "are arguably the worst they've been in 60 years." No.10 famously hit back at Darling – before the then Chancellor was dramatically proved right. But I'm not sure that we'll see a repeat in the case of Cable's doom-inflected predictions. Not just because a double dip may not come to pass, but because it pays the coalition to be cautious, and cautionary, about the economy they have inherited. Otherwise, they might also inherit all the blame should things go wrong.