Free Radical

Published by Atlantic on 1st November 2009

Vince Cable, Deputy Leader of the LibDems and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, has been proved right again and again as the current economic crisis unfolds. Measured, analytical and wise, he is the hero of the crunch in Parliament – as well as its most popular member.

Yet his life story is far from that of a career politician. Born into a working-class family in York, he excelled at school and took his first degree at Cambridge, where he became interested in both politics and development economics – which led to his first job, working in the Treasury of Kenya, and to his first marriage, in the teeth of family opposition on both sides, to Olympia Rebelo. They lived in Glasgow, where two of their three children were born, and then moved to London while Vince worked in the Foreign Office before visiting and researching in India, then working for the Commonwealth Secretariat and then for Shell, where he worked as Chief Economist. It was not until 1997 that he was elected to represent Twickenham in Parliament, by which time Olympia was in the late stages of cancer, which she fought courageously until 2001. The vagaries of life as a constituency MP, the gathering clouds of economic disaster and the crash of 2008 bring events up to date. Best known today for his prescience and authority on both domestic and international economic matters, Vince recalls a life of wide variety and great interest – and ballroom dancing – with self-deprecating humour and great insight, making this a terrific and very timely read.