Sir Vince Cable: ‘I’ve handed over the party and the constituency in good shape’

By Suzie Tombs
December 1 2019, 20.00

Vince Cable said he is handing over his constituency in ‘good shape’ as his replacement Lib Dem candidate in Twickenham Munira Wilson prepares for the General Election.

Sir Vince, 76, first won the seat in 1997 and announced he was stepping down in August as MP for the constituency, having stood down as Lib Dem leader in July.

He said: “I wanted to hand over the party and the constituency in good shape and I feel I’ve done that.

“There’s strong support for the Lib Dems in Richmond and Twickenham, partly based on tactical voting by Labour voters, and I expect the party to do well nationally.”

He is optimistic his successor in Twickenham will continue demanding fairer funding for local schools and better mental health provision, particularly for young people.

“We have very education-conscious parents in this area who are putting in money themselves in so-called ‘voluntary contributions’ to keep the schools in good shape and head off redundancies but that can’t go on forever and I do fear that too many corners are being cut,” he said.

He believes that while resources remain a big concern, there are other issues.

“It isn’t just a lack of money, it’s also because of the very rigid, centralised system we have now. It will be the job of the Twickenham MP to get stuck in and make that a major concern,” he added.

Sir Vince believes mental health is the ‘forgotten end’ of the health service. Twickenham schools report that about one in five teenagers have mental health issues and he is concerned that without enough resources, these problems will escalate.

He said: “I’ve tried to prioritise it locally because I encounter so much distress around mental health issues from families in my local advice surgery.”

He added: “While Britain is standing still or going backwards, many other countries are making real educational progress, particularly in the developing world.”

Though he still has been involved in campaigning for the Lib Dems, he acknowledges his role now is different from when he was an MP and a parliamentary candidate.

“I’ve no wish to be a backseat driver,” he said.

“I’m only partially stepping back. I won’t tell the party what to do, they’ve got their own messaging – it might not be the messaging I would have used but that’s what they’re doing and good luck to them.”

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