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June 11, 2010

Tracking David Willetts & Vince Cable

This page tracks the speeches and other interesting statements made by David Willetts, the Minister for Universities and Science, and Vince Cable, his boss at BIS. I'll be updating as and when.

It's different from the speeches page at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills because it includes speeches and statements by Willetts and Cable that are not approved by BIS either in part or in whole, such as Willetts' speech to Oxford Brookes University on 10 June. Also, there will be some links to notable interviews with the two.

It's different to the Wikipedia entries because it stays up-to-date with new statements, is an original source (eg the full Oxford Brookes speech is not available elsewhere), and because I'll be offering my opinion on what Willetts and Cable are saying.

This page only exists because of the peculiar coalition arrangement for Willetts and Vince Cable at BIS. According to the organogram, Cable is Willetts' boss. But the political reality is that Willetts has substantial clout in his own right, also attending Cabinet for example. This makes the whole notion of BIS having a unified departmental position on any subject problematic. Although Cable and Willetts will no doubt manage to agree on many things, what about the cases where they don't?

For some of the issues raised by the BIS split, see my column in Research Fortnight (requires subscription, but pretty much all UK campuses have access). More generally, for up-to-date responses to what Willetts and Cable are saying, and analysis, you should subscribe to Research Fortnight.

This intro extensively revised on 1 July 2010

2010 Most recent at the top

Willetts Interview on the Daily Politics show, 21 June, after withdrawing the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters

Willetts extends state support to "R&D", but not picking winners. It's a rather Cable-like stance in fact, though less effusive. See my commentary here.

Cable speech on growth, 10 June

Cable tackles the question of how to get growth while cutting, but, I think, says less than he seems to.

Cable column on university cuts in his local newspaper, 7 June

In 300 words, Cable gives a clear picture of what universities are facing.

Willetts Comments in the House of Commons, 17 June.

Willetts highlights role of science role in economic growth, but fails to mention third stream funding such as TSB or HEIF, again. Indeed, as I explain in the PS here, he's starting to verge on the hostile - another difference in tone to Cable.

Willetts Speech at Oxford Brookes University, 10 June - BIS-approved versionFull version, Blog by Laura Hood on the differences.

Willetts again fails to repeat the lines that caused the stir in the Guardian story. My conclusion: his intellectual honesty has got him into trouble, as it did with grammar schools. Having blundered in the Guardian interview, he reverts to damping down middle class fears. For the background to this, see my blog here.

Willetts Interview on BBC Radio 4 Today programme, 10 June

Willetts fails to repeat the lines that caused the stir in the Guardian story.

Willetts Interview with the Guardian, 9 June

Willetts warns that the cost of hundreds of thousands of students' degree courses is a "burden on the taxpayer that had to be tackled". The fees system is also "unsustainable" and in need of "radical change".

Cable speech to the Cass Business School, 3 June 2010

Cable outlines his agenda and - rather daringly - backs picking winners, when that phrase is properly understood.

Willetts Speech at the University of Birmingham, 20 May 2010

Willetts sets the scene for his term of office.


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