Two very positive Liberal Democrat stories today in the Herald Scotland:
The first: Flourishing LibDems cast Scottish politics in a good light reports that Liberal Democrat membership in Scotland is up 18% this year and sees it as a sign that of public acceptance of the party’s role in the Coalition government.
The Herald also has an interview with Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, which charts his progress from childhood to the Cabinet, revealing his family’s deep Liberal roots:
“My mother tells the story of how she caught my grandad rocking me in the pram when I was six months old saying ‘repeat after me, I’m a member of the Liberal party’.”
The piece recounts Danny’s “very happy” childhood, education at Charles Kennedy’s old school, Lochaber High School in Fort William, and political studies and involvement at Oxford University.
On his election to Parliament in 2005:
He describes being elected as a “happy coincidence of where I was working, the seat becoming available and the electoral circumstances”, though those who know him believe there was more prior thought behind it than that may make it sound. Once at Westminster, Alexander was clear in his own mind about what he wanted to achieve. “I’ve never been one of those people who is quite happy to be in opposition throughout your whole career,” he declares firmly. “I want to do things, change things for people in the Highlands, change things about the country.” He concedes, though, that getting that opportunity happened more quickly than he had anticipated.
He has kept extensive notes of the coalition negotiations. There was immediately a “good chemistry” with the Tories, he says; coalition with Labour was “clearly much less likely” because of the arithmetic, but in addition, he perceived “a sense of arrogance” among the Labour negotiators. All in all, he is “very proud” of how the LibDem negotiators handled themselves.
On the changes to Child Benefit:
“These decisions are going to be very, very difficult. The reductions we’re going to have to make in public spending are going to affect everybody and it is important in that context that those with the broadest shoulders bear a fair share of the burden.
“I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do. It’s difficult, of course it is, and I don’t underestimate in any way the impact it will have on those people who are affected.”
And on people doubting his ability to do the job of Chief Secretary to the Treasury, given his age and experience:
“I completely ignore it,” he says. “People will judge the government over five years on what we deliver and what we do, and I think they should judge me on the same basis.”
Read the full article at Herald Scotland here.