Business leaders slam Cable


Jon Moulton, John Griffin and others speak out against Vince Cable’s economic pessimism

Business Secretary Vince Cable warned yesterday that Britain could slip into another recession. His gloomy comments echo those he made in September where he referred to the UK’s financial crisis as “equivalent to war” and a ticking “financial bomb”.

But is this true for London? We asked London’s business scene what their views were and whether they believed Cable is in tune with the state of London business.

Jon Moulton, chairman of private equity firm Better Capital LLP: “London has the best chance to avoid recession in the UK.

Moulton feels that London is far away from a double-dip recession. Commenting on Cable’s speech, Moulton told LondonlovesBusiness.com he thought Cable was “sadly realistic” but added: “London has the best chance to avoid recession in the UK. It’s pretty detached from the public sector excess of the rest of the country.”

John Griffin, chairman, Addison Lee, said: “Don’t confuse people, try making the likes of China a customer”

“Vince Cable is entitled to his own opinion but he should acknowledge the fact that London is doing really well. It’s good to be realistic about the economy as more and more countries want a bigger slice in the world’s economy.

“However, instead of confusing people by talking about a double-dip recession, he should concentrate on, for example, how we can make our manufacturing industry so strong that we don’t have to go knocking on China’s door for goods, they become our customers instead,”

Peter Gordon, former partner at private equity group 3i and co-founder of In-Deed Online: “London is a star performer, Vince is creating unnecessary panic”

“I don’t understand why Vince is always so negative about businesses. I think he should open his eyes to the fact that London is a star-performer with respect to business. What does he want to prove by banging the drum of the doom and gloom about the economy? His comments create unnecessary panic and will defer investments by businessman into the UK.”

Will De Lucy, managing director, Amplify Trading: “Vince is Anti-business”

“I’ve got no problem with Vince Cable’s comments as we might very well be headed for a double-dip recession, However I do feel he is very anti-business and doesn’t give out very intelligent business sentiments.”

Charlie Mullins, MD of Pimlico Plumbers: “Emphasise the positive by all means”

“Generally I’m no Vince Cable fan, but as far as I can see the man has just given an accurate summation of the situation and how we got there. I would challenge anyone to put their house on us not having another dose of recession. Truth is, things are looking very dark, but it’s important to realise the lights are still on in the UK, and the problems we are now experiencing are blowing in from abroad.

“And if the opposition want to start preaching on the economy, maybe they might like to recall how Gordon Brown ‘fixed’ the world economy a couple of years ago – what a load of complete bollocks that’s turned out to be!

“All I heard in what Vince Cable said was a description of the current economic climate. If people want a Michael Fish version of what’s coming they’re welcome to it, but me I like to see the storm coming and plan accordingly. Emphasise the positive by all means, but don’t call a hurricane a gentle breeze unless you want to see your ship smashed against the rocks!” 

Ajit Chambers, CEO, The Old London Underground Company: “I want Cable to be more involved in the project”

Entrepreneur Ajit Chambers plans to renovate London’s disused underground stations and has been trying to get in touch with Cable.

As the project nears sign off with the Mayor’s Office and the Ministry of Defence, Ajit has a hint of regret that Cable has not been more involved in a project that lies directly under his parliamentary remit.

“Cable needs to concentrate less on designing and printing a perfect ticket and get down and dirty with actual businesses to make sure their journey is going to be successful.

“Like many politicians Cable is not approachable enough and has fallen into the career trap, where delivering objectives that can be felt, seen and heard financially, on the street are the real answer to recession.

“Predicting a change in market is completely useless in comparison to working to change the market to our benefit. We have all the tools to win as long as politicians like Cable start actively delivering to businesses and most importantly picking up the phone to us,” he added.

Dominic List, CEO and founder of Comtact: “Cable should under-promise and over-deliver instead of the other way round”

List is equally displeased. His tech firm’s listed on to the top 50 of the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 and he previously featured on Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire, he thinks Cable has let him down.

“If I were Vince Cable, I would have under-promised and over-delivered. However, he’s done it the other way around. Take my business for example, we made it to Sunday Times Tech Track 100 and to Secret Millionaire. One would expect that our bank Lloyds would bang my door offering loans and extra credit limit but instead we’re having trouble finding funds.

“I think Vince shouldn’t be so dramatic by declaring a financial war, he should concentrate on doing his work and boosting business because clearly his business policies aren’t working,” he added.