Vince Cable condemns City 'spivs'
Business Secretary Vince Cable has launched a searing attack on the City "spivs and gamblers" who crippled the British economy as he rounded off the Liberal Democrats' first conference in power.
In a speech decried as "rabble-rousing" by business leaders, Mr Cable condemned the "outrageous" scale of bank bonuses after the credit crunch.
He also deployed combative party-political rhetoric to reassure activists' misgivings over the coalition deal - counterbalancing leader Nick Clegg's softer tone on Monday.
While admitting it was "not much fun" being in bed with the Conservatives, Mr Cable insisted it was "necessary for our country that our parties work together at a time of financial crisis".
He said the Lib Dems were "punching above our weight" in the coalition, stressing that the Tories had been forced to accept changes to income tax and capital gains as well as dropping key policies such as cutting inheritance tax.
"Ironically, we may be able to make more progress on a fairness agenda with the Conservatives than New Labour was willing to do," he said.
Giving Lib Dem activists a green light to criticise coalition policy, Mr Cable urged them to "keep us honest".
He suggested the party had not given up hope of further tax reforms, saying he "personally regretted" that plans for a mansion tax on homes worth more than £2 million had been dropped for the coalition agreement.
With Lord Browne's review of higher education funding due next month, Mr Cable acknowledged that many activists believed university education should be free.
But he insisted: "In reality, the only way to maintain high quality higher education with less government money is for the graduate beneficiaries to make a bigger contribution from the early extra earnings they enjoy later in life."