Iain Dale is Leading Britain's Conversation.
23 July 2017, 01:09
The outgoing leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Tim Farron, explained his departure by saying that the party needed a fresh start.
They have just crowned Sir Vince Cable as leader. This fresh start is over 130 years old.
He's fresh like last year's bread.
The new leader of the Lib Dems has cardigans that are as old as the man he's replacing.
The reason the Lib Dems have a man as ancient as the exhibits in the Natural Science Museum as their new leader is because the previous leader said he could not square heading the party with his Christian faith.
Would it be possible, in future, to have a few fewer political leaders who want to be guided by a book written thousands of years ago by persons unknown?
Would it be too much to ask that they be guided more by what has happened in the past decade, for instance?
Uncle Vince used his first speech as leader to demand an 'exit from Brexit'
He wants to thwart Britain's departure from the EU, and in case you are wondering, that is the only allowable use of the word "thwart" in the English language.
You can thwart Brexit, and no other thing.
Its use is restricted, like the word "alight", which can only be used by train announcers when telling you to get off at the next stop.
Sir Vince said Labour and the Tories had 'abandoned' the mainstream and he intended to fill it.
He said, "It will soon become clear that the Government can't deliver the painless Brexit it promised. So, we need to prepare for an exit from Brexit."
"Exit from Brexit" - that's a cute phrase. The reaction he will get to that idea will be anything but.
It is not the only controversial subject he has tackled lately. He waded into the student fees debate, which is very brave considering the Lib Dem's collapse in popularity is directly associated with the U-turn that a previous leader of the party made on the issue when in power.
Vince thinks that it would be a good idea to pay students to go to university.
Perhaps it would. Many of our direct competitor countries do exactly that. We used to do it ourselves in England. In Scotland they still do.
But for a Lib Dem leader to announce that idea unbidden seems rash.
He said: ''Under my leadership the Liberal Democrats will be at the centre of political life: a credible, effective party of national government."
Steady on Vince. Small steps. It seems like a long time away that Britons could credibly be looking at a Liberal Democrat government, but stranger things have happened.
After all, they've got a bright orange game show host with the intelligence of a shower curtain in the White House.
Sir Vince said, "I will serve for as long as I need to. I'm not here for the short term."
Unless there is a dramatic breakthrough, I'm not sure that medical science would agree with him.
But those in the centre ground wish him well.
The best of luck Sir Vince, you are going to need it.
And he's going to need help getting out of that chair and remembering where he parked the car, too.