Lib Dem Deputy’s Backing for Bay MP
By NAOMI TOLLEY
The deputy leader of the Lib Dems has given his backing to Bay MP Adrian Sanders – branding Mr Sanders’ recent skirmish with a party activist as ‘fierce defence of our party’.
Vince Cable was in the Bay on a flying visit yesterday. Speaking to defend Mr Sanders, he said: “Nobody I have spoken to has said anything against Mr Sanders.”
The resort’s MP hit the national headlines after he pushed over former Lib Dem press mogul Mark Littlewood in a heated row at last month’s party conference in Bournemouth.
Mr Sanders took exception to a report, written by Mr Littlewood, claiming his seat was in danger of being grabbed by the Tories at the next election.
It was claimed Mr Sanders confronted Mr Littlewood and shouted: ‘That’s my majority you’re talking about.”
Mr Sanders refused to comment on the altercation, which ended with Mr Littlewood on the ground after falling over a wall.
Mr Cable, a former economist who is also the opposition party’s shadow chancellor, said: “Mr Littlewood was talking out of the top of his hat.
“I wasn’t there and I don’t know what happened but Adrian is a very responsible man and very caring and he is fiercely defensive of our party.”
Mr Cable, renowned for having been the first to predict the current recession, said the same claims that the Bay Lib Dem seat is weak had been made in the past three elections: “But sitting MPs who have dug very deep roots become part of their local community.
“Mr Sanders is an MP who represents Torbay in Westminster, not Westminster in Torbay, and there aren’t many MPs who do that.
“Adrian does a good job and he has made many friends and, come the general election, I’m very certain he’ll be back again.”
Mr Cable spoke following a tour of the Bay Brewery in Paignton and the Coast and Countryside Trust craft centre at Cockington Court to see how they will benefit from Sea Change funding.
Mr Sanders has been instrumental in securing funding for both projects.
En-route, Mr Cable and his wife Rachel supported local trade by stopping to buy a leather belt from a newly opened craft stall.
The economist said he has been warning PM Gordon Brown for years of the oncoming economic problems – unsustainable levels of personal debt, mostly secured against the illusory ‘wealth’ of rising, vastly inflated property prices, among others.
He recently called for ‘urgent, practical action’ to help people who are struggling in the current credit crunch, saying Labour couldn’t offer that.
Speaking from Cockington Court, Mr Cable said: “I did warn Gordon Brown about five years ago. Now we’re in an imminent recession and something does need to be done urgently.
“We’re at the eye of the storm where people are struggling with huge food and fuel prices, unemployment is rising fast and thousands of people are losing their homes.
“But the worst thing that can happen is for people to sit back and do nothing.”
He praised the work Mr Sanders had done with the Bay Brewery and Sea Change money.
The visit came days after Mr Cable highlighted economic forecasters predicting the UK will fare worst among the world’s seven leading economies (G7) in the current crisis.
When asked the recipe for recovering from the credit crunch, he said: “There’s no single answer.”
But he suggested a tax system re-balance and to lose tax imposed on people with low incomes and the elderly.
He added: “Across the country we have got builders going bust and house prices depressed and long lists of people sitting on housing registers.”
He said housing associations should clean up surplus land and property and use it for social housing which would also inject some life into the building industry.
He said there was money ‘in the pipeline’ for such work but it had come to a standstill because of the economic situation.
When asked about the answers to pull people in the Bay through a recession, he said: “I think one of the things, which Adrian is trying to do as a local MP, is standing up for local businesses.”
Together with the leader of the Lib Dem party, Nick Clegg, Mr Cable has put together the Liberal Democrat fairer future economic recovery plan.
And despite the recent ‘kerfuffle’ in Bournemouth and the Bay suffering with some of the lowest wages and highest taxes in the country, Mr Cable says he has faith that Mr Sanders can help pull the Bay through the current climate.
(c) 2008 Herald Express (Torquay UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.