DOWNING Street said it was relaxed with Vince Cable’s claim that “capitalism kills competition” yesterday, although it stopped short of saying it agreed with the business secretary.
David Cameron’s aides cleared Cable’s speech in advance, but they did not apparently know that his advisers would leak only the most incendiary passages to the press.
The business secretary made a few last-minute tweaks to the speech before delivering it at the Lib dem conference in Liverpool, toning down his remarks about company directors and attributing his anti-capitalist comments to free market guru Adam Smith.
His speech still attracted widespread condemnation from the business community, but senior Tories – who will almost certainly disagree with Cable’s sentiments – were strangely silent.
“We don’t do comments on the other party’s conference speeches. And we expect them to return the favour when it’s our turn,” a senior Tory source said yesterday.
However, some MPs were willing to put their head above the parapet. Sajid Javid, a new Tory backbencher and former Deutsche Bank banker, told City A.M.: “We should be very careful about making changes to a system that provides so much revenue for our public services”
Lord Myners, the Labour peer and former City minister, also hit out at Cable. “It sounded like a speech from the opposition, not a member of the government. It will come as a disappointment for businesses overseas. It’s exactly the sort of talk that frightens away foreign investment,” he said.