Any public sector manager thinking of voting for the Liberal Democrats at the next election might wish to reconsider after the ill-judged rant by Treasury spokesman Vince Cable at the party conference.

Mr Cable lurched from pouring opprobrium on those responsible for the banking crisis to attacking public servants. The Liberal Democrats apparently think many of the services you manage are "bloated" and "incompetent".

Misjudged sloganeering

In a piece of witless sloganeering that will only serve to undermine confidence in public services, Mr Cable called for every public sector manager on£100,000 or more to be forced to reapply for their job. Those allowed back would have their pay and pension cut.

Imagine what would happen if leader Nick Clegg found himself swept into Downing Street. Since Liberals with experience of running the country can only be reached by spiritual medium, the new ministerial team would need all the help it could get. But chancellor Cable would dismiss large swathes of the senior civil service, the cream of the talent managing the country's hospitals and local authorities and many more besides. Such a move would be, according to this former oil company executive, a reaction against "greed".

Public abuse

This spiteful attack would have the effect of suppressing public sector pay across the board, demoralising staff and forcing talent to quit for the private sector.

It ill becomes a senior parliamentary figure to abuse public servants for the sake of a few cheap handclaps.