Having become leader of the Liberal Democrats by virtue of being the only person in the country who wanted the job, Sir Vince Cable is about to achieve a less esoteric ambition, one he shares, in fact, with a large chunk of the British public: he is about to publish his first novel.

The book, called Open Arms, is a thriller. At 74, Cable is a little long in the tooth for a debut novelist, and would have taken even longer if his Twickenham constituents hadn’t given him a sabbatical in which to write it. He is, though, far from the oldest debut novelist in the political sphere: Jimmy Carter was 80 when he published The Hornet’s Nest: A Novel of the Revolutionary War. Mr Carter’s book, as I recall, was like its author: noble and kind-hearted to the point of tedium. Sir Vince’s novel is, happily, more bitchy.

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