Business and government – questions of power & influence
Reflections and presentiments from an academic, corporate & political lifetime
The Right Hon Sir Vince Cable
Before his five years as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 2010-2015, Yorkshireman Vince Cable had a varied international career as well as an unusual political trajectory.
After a grammar school education in York, he studied natural sciences and then economics at the University of Cambridge, where he was President of the Union (debating society). Next, Vince worked as Treasury Finance Officer for the Kenyan Government and moved on to carry out research in Central America. Returning to academic life, he did a PhD at Glasgow University.
Having been a very young city councillor in Glasgow, he stood as a Labour candidate in the 1970 General Election. Moving to the SDP and then the Liberal Democrats, he continued to stand for parliament in elections of the 1980s and 90s, while working in a range of economic and foreign policy roles, before taking the post as Shell International’s Chief Economist in 1995.
Vince became the Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham in 1997, serving until 2015 and again from 2017 to 2019. After Shadow positions as Spokesman on Trade and Industry from 1999 to 2003, and as Chancellor from 2003 to 2010 (plus being Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2006 to 2010) he was at last a Secretary of State in the Coalition Government.
When he returned to parliament in 2017, he served as Leader of the Lib Dems and saw a big recovery of the party position in local government and in the sweeping gains in European elections in 2019.
Since retiring from parliament, he has become Professor in Practice at the LSE and a Distinguished Fellow of the Overseas Development Institute. He is also Director of Element 2, a hydrogen infrastructure company, and a consortium of companies developing low carbon technologies for transport.
His recent books include Money and Power (Atlantic Press); The Chinese Conundrum (Alma and Bloomsbury Press); How to be a Politician (Penguin) and Partnership and Politics in a Divided Decade (REAL Press).
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