Vince Cable’s leadership dilemma

Vince Cable's leadership dilemma
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Although Christmas is supposed to mean peace on earth and goodwill to all men, this goodwill appears not to extend to the Liberal Democrats – or Vince Cable anyway. The Lib Dem leader has become the topic du jour for political journalists over the December dry season – with both the Guardian and Times publishing scathing articles on Cable's failure to unite his party and 'spark Lib Dems into life' (see Steerpike's November report for a pre-cursor to the latest Lib Dem fear and loathing).

Now questions are being asked over Cable's suitability – and whether he even wants the job. This hasn't been helped by Cable telling Politico his new year resolution is to 'work less and sleep more'. So, in the interest of transparency, Mr S thought it important to highlight a letter Cable wrote to Dear Mary in the Spectator Christmas issue. In it, Cable asks the Spectator's agony aunt whether party leadership or ballroom dancing ought to come first:

From Sir Vince Cable MP

Q. I have an unfulfilled ambition to win a national title for ballroom dancing in my age group. But this leadership thing gets in the way of my training. What’s more important — Parliament’s squabbling schoolroom or Blackpool’s twinkle-toes ballroom?

A. What’s all this either/or business? These days the only way to become a leader is to become a celebrity first. Viz Trump. If they like you as leader it won’t be because you’ve got the ‘leadership thing’ — it will have been the twinkle toes that swung it.

Mr S suspects some of Cable's colleagues would be happy to see him focus solely on his dancing. 'The foxtrot is the only thing Vince seems able to successfully do. This Christmas the only thing you would leave him in charge of is the Werther's Original tin, not a political party,' snarks a Lib Dem source.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from London and beyond. Email tips to