Labour left the country with a “dangerous, unstable” level of state borrowing, said Vince Cable, and trimming that is “unavoidable if our country and party are to be taken seriously.”
Nick Clegg too warned that markets are demanding action on the deficit.
But the Liberal Democrat party’s longer-term goals are certainly not those of their Conservative allies.
“The progressive agenda of centre left parties cannot be delivered by bankrupt governments,” said Cable, taking a shot at the Labour party.
Tax cuts are a “childish fantasy’, Cable said, accusing politicians who advocate them of “assuming that Santa will pop down the chimney and leave presents under the tree” as there is no money to pay for them.
Bankers also took a bashing, as they were accused of “failing to perform their basic function of channelling savings into productive investment.” Cable announced his support for ring-fencing retail and investment banks.
The speech also included support for freeing up business, with Cable vowing to “cut red tape which is suffocating growing companies which create jobs”, though specific measures on red tape and were not detailed.
However, more details were given on redistribution, with the “mansion tax” taking centre stage.
Cable wants a wealth tax targeting homes valued at over £2m, stressing his party’s focus on fairness.
YESTERDAY AT CONFERENCE
● Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told party activists: “We’ve got to stop beating ourselves up”, as he stuck up for the party’s role in the coalition.
● Clegg also hit out at Prime Minister’s Question Time, describing the weekly Westminster event as “tedious, ghastly, predictable tribalism”.
● Twitter and other social network sites must not be restricted, according to a Lib Dem motion concerning the recent riots. The party also attacked the removal of benefits and housing from people who took part in the rioting.
● Page 3 girls in tabloids would be a thing of the past if some Lib Dems have their way. A motion was passed to “restrict sexualised images in newspapers”.
● Land Rover’s decision to build a fresh £335m plant in the Midlands was hailed by both Nick Clegg and Vince Cable.