Tag Archives: Danny Alexander

Hugh Grant endorses Danny Alexander as Inverness’s MP

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IDS was talking openly about restricting Child Benefit to two children, so how can the Conservatives deny Danny Alexander’s claims?

Danny Alexander has claimed that the Tories would meet their target of cutting £12 billion to the welfare budget by  making massive cuts to Child Benefit, means testing, limiting it to two children, abolishing the increased payment for the first child and removing it for 16-19 year olds. He told the Guardian that they had suggested these things back in 2012 and the Liberal Democrats had put a stop to them:

The Conservatives have been under sustained pressure to detail how they will cut £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-2018, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank confirmed this week the Tories have so far disclosed only 10% of these cut in the form of a two-year freeze in working age benefits.

A separate internal government paper, Alexander reveals, was drawn up by the Treasury commissioned by the Tories for an additional £6bn cuts in welfare to be announced in the 2012 Autumn Statement.

The £8bn worth of welfare cuts were drawn up by Duncan Smith at a time when the cabinet was considering whether to stick to its timetable to reduce Britain’s national debt as a proportion of GDP. The plan was dropped.

The Tories have come out with a mockraged “But how could he suggest such a thing?” denial. This is barely credible. We know that Iain Duncan Smith was talking openly about limiting Child Benefit to two children back in 2013 as was Grant Shapps who added an even nastier element to this policy – that it should only apply to unemployed parents. According to the Telegraph, then:

But instead of denying the payments to all large families, some Tories have suggested that restrictions should be applied only to parents who do not work.

Grant Shapps, the Conservative chairman, earlier this year suggested that unemployed parents should not receive child benefit for additional children.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, last year questioned whether it was acceptable that families on benefits should continue to receive endless amounts of money for every child they have, when parents who are working often cannot afford to have more children.

The Lib Dems have insisted that there should be no more welfare cuts imposed during this Parliament.

As recently as last month, Newsnight reported that the Tories were wanting to restrict payment to three children, with Dominic Raab muttering darkly about “personal responsibility.”

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We have another red line – raising the personal tax allowance to £12,500

In a move which will surprise nobody, another of those items from the front page of the manifesto has been announced as a red line in coalition negotiations with strings attached.

  • Significant progress must be made to getting to £12,500 in the first year of the next parliament, by increasing the allowance to £11,000 by April 2016.
  • This increase must be paid for fairly and cannot be funded through cuts to public services.
  • This has to be the number one tax priority of the new government. Any other tax priorities must be secondary to delivering the increase in the Personal Allowance.

So the Tories can forget any notion of cutting taxes for the rich until this has been fulfilled. What does this mean for Labour’s Mansion Tax, though? Surely you would want to bring that in at the same time? Actually, Danny Alexander clarified that. There’s not much love for Labour’s 10p tax band. You do wonder why they even thought about revisiting that one. Danny said:

Just two days ago the IFS described Labour’s proposed 10p tax rate as having a ‘miniscule effect’. Compare that to the millions of workers who will be getting their pay cheques today and will be £70 better off a month, thanks to the Liberal Democrats in government.

Nick Clegg said:

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Danny Alexander’s note to Liam: We won’t let you or the Tories screw up the recovery

Five years apart, two letters tell a very different story. David Laws found this on his desk at the Treasury:

 

Liam Byrne's note

 

Danny Alexander got round to replying today:

Danny Alexander's reply

As George Crozier pointed out last week, this recovery is very much a Liberal Democrat recovery:

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The truth about the “Lib Dem boss” taking over Danny Alexander’s campaign.

A TOP LibDem official has taken personal command of Danny Alexander’s election campaign in a last-ditch bid to save the party’s biggest scalp north of the border.

Scottish convener Craig Harrow, who is also vice president of the UK LibDems, has moved into Alexander’s Highland seat to act as his election agent.

So says the Sunday Herald in an article that goes on to outline the graveness of the threat against Danny and all the other Lib Dem seats in Scotland in the manner of every other article about the Lib Dems these days.

The truth is rather less sensational. It should be absolutely no surprise to anyone that Danny should choose Craig as his agent. For a start, you might want to check out who was his agent in 2005. That’s right, Craig Harrow. Craig then stood for the Inverness seat in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election.

The association between the two of them goes back a very long time, though. They are roughly the same age and both worked for the party at the same time in the 1990s. Craig was Rae Michie’s organiser in Argyll and Bute and Danny was the Scottish Party’s press officer. They have been friends ever since and were, I hear, extremely conscientious in their study of Scotland’s finest malt based products.

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Caroline Lucas: Vince Cable could make you think eating babies was ok

It’s fair to say that this is not a headline I ever thought I’d be writing, but there you go.

The Guardian decided that it might be a good idea to take ten politicians and send them on a “blind date” with someone from a different party. They didn’t exactly push the boat out with this. The MPs met in the cafe in Portcullis House which is ok, but I prefer the public one off Westminster Hall. It’s always a joy to see what food combinations they come up with. They had an Earl Grey cheesecake one time I was there, which was a bit lacking in flavour, if I’m honest.

Probably the closest match politically was between our Vince Cable and Green MP Caroline Lucas. Afterwards, each MP had to say what they thought of the other. Caroline was generally very positive about Vince but made a bit of a strange comment:

My overriding feeling about Vince is that he’s so reasonable and so plausible that he could make eating babies sound an entirely rational thing to do.

The only thing is that Vince is generally right about stuff. If she thought that what he was saying about things like tuition fees and austerity was rational, it’s because it was. I was a bit miffed on Vince’s behalf by the baby-eating comment. She could have chosen a better analogy.

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Danny Alexander has a “Beaker” cocktail created in his honour

If you’ve had a busy weekend, you might want to reward yourself with a wee cocktail. There’s a new one on the market. Trouble is, you’d have to go to Inverness to drink it, but that’s no hardship. It is one of the loveliest places on earth, after all and I’m not just saying that because I was born there.

The “Beaker” cocktail, created in Danny Alexander’s honour, is on sale in an Inverness bar for either £4 or £6 depending on the day of the week.

The Press and Journal has the story:

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What Danny Alexander would say to his successor: “Jobs up, growth up, economy up, don’t screw it up”

We all remember the rather pathetic note that Labour’s last Chief Secretary to the Treasury left for his successor.

no money left

“I’m afraid there is no money left” he said. And he wasn’t a million miles from the truth.

Danny Alexander was asked yesterday at an event what he would put in a note to his successor. His reply was a little more, shall we say, motivating and inspiring, as the Vote Clegg, Get Clegg Facebook page reports:

At a meeting yesterday with Danny Alexander on the panel, he was asked what he would say in a note to his successor. Brilliant reply: “Jobs up, Growth up, Economy up, don’t screw it up”!

Posted by Vote Clegg, Get Clegg on Tuesday, 24 March 2015

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Opinion: Liberal Democrat alternative budget is no answer to Osborne’s opaque way with the numbers 

 

Several years ago there emerged into public discourse one of those phrases that becomes ubiquitous solely on the basis of its banality – ‘joined up thinking’  – and which could be deployed to allow people with more of an agenda than a plan to escape the scrutiny of the serious observer.

This article’s purpose is not to explore the decision making process behind the alternative budget presentation, except to ponder that those Lib Dems who wanted the coalition to have the impact of us being taken seriously as a potential party of government can hardly be satisfied at how we have been ridiculed in the wake of that particular initiative.

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Independent: “Liberal Democrats do have a more balanced, pragmatic approach to the task”

This morning’s leader article in the Independent praises yesterday’s Liberal Democrat alternative budget and concludes that “five years in government have clearly matured the Lib Dems”:

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Danny set outs alternative Lib Dem budget

In a constitutional innovation, from the House of Commons dispatch box, Danny Alexander has today set out the Liberal Democrats’ alternative fiscal plans, as the Guardian reports:

Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, has taken the unprecedented step of standing at the Commons dispatch box to set out an alternative fiscal plan to George Osborne’s budget.

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Danny turns the tables on Balls on TV economy debates

On Sunday’s Andrew Marr show, Ed Balls caught the chancellor off guard when he all but forced him (in one of recent television history’s most awkward moments) to shake on an agreement to hold a television debate.

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In Full: Danny Alexander’s speech to Conference

Danny emphasised the Liberal Democrat contribution to the economic recovery in his keynote speech to Conference and talked about the forthcoming budget and the choice facing the country. Liberal Democrats were needed to provide fairness and responsibility, he said. Here is his speech in full:

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Three reasons why Talk of the Glens is much better than the Daily Mail

Talk of the GlensThe Daily Mail has been casting a critical eye over a publication being delivered to voters across Danny Alexander’s Inverness, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency by Danny’s campaign team.

Needless to say, the magazine, Talk of the Glens, does not meet with the Mail’s approval. “Toe curling” and “garish” they call it.

It is very nice of the Mail, however, to reproduce the magazine almost in its entirety. Their readers, who may have inadvertently recycled it, therefore get a second chance to see it.

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LibLink: Danny Alexander: A defence of our role in Coalition, whatever Jeremy Browne thinks

Danny Alexander takes to the pages of the Independent to challenge the points made by Jeremy Browne in his critical interview in that paper yesterday.

He looks back at the recessions of the 80s with their mass unemployment and misery and highlights the differences in approach brought into government by the Liberal Democrats. This, he says, has brought about a quicker, fairer end to the economic downturn:

Liberalism is about individual freedom, fairness and opportunity. And freedom, fairness and opportunity cannot flourish without a strong economy.

Today, Britain has the strongest growth and fastest job creation of any advanced economy. Inflation is benign, business investment is rising and we have record numbers in work. By any measure, Britain is making strong progress and opportunity is increasing.

This recovery has not come about by accident. It has been hard earned by millions of people and businesses. But we needed the right economic climate for the recovery. That climate is the direct result of liberal values in the recovery plan – fairness and opportunity. Delivered in the Coalition by Liberal Democrat policies – a balanced approach to dealing with the deficit; raising the income tax personal allowance to make work more attractive; creating apprenticeships to give people the skills they need; and the priority we have given to boosting investment in regional and local businesses, innovation and infrastructure. This is not “splitting the difference” between the other parties. It’s doing things in a distinctly different way, the liberal way.

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Opinion: Tax more and spend less

Nick Clegg with 2010 manifesto at Glasgow 2014 by Liberal Democrats

The 2010 election was notable for the failure of the three main parties to spell out clearly how they would reduce the budget deficit.  No-one wanted to scare the voters away.

2015 is already proving different. Nick Clegg has announced that Liberal Democrats would increase taxes by at least £8 billion and bring in a further £6 billion by tackling tax avoidance. There would still be up to £16 billion cut from  expenditure, £12 billion from government departments and £4 billion from welfare. Whilst not exactly a return to Keynesian economics, this is nevertheless a huge step away from the Tory approach which seemed to have dominated coalition fiscal policy. The balance between expenditure cuts and tax increases under Tory plans for the next parliament would be 98:2 whereas we will be proposing 60:40.

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Oops! 15 Ashcroft Scottish polls published early by mistake

With a hat-tip to Mark Pack, LDV alumnus.

We were expecting Lord Ashcroft’s Scottish polls today.

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Opinion: The future isn’t so much local, it is small

people powered prosperityDanny Alexander started all this.  He asked me, back one day in 2012, about how local economies could find levers to regenerate themselves – rather than waiting around hopelessly for outside investment that never came (that isn’t how he put it).

The result was a dialogue between the Treasury and the local economic regeneration activists – local bankers, local energy organisers, local procurement advocates, local currencies – which revealed, it’s fair to say, something of a gulf between them.

As a result, and thanks to some funding from the Friends Provident Foundation, I have been organising a project to translate between the two – so that they at least understand each other.

I hope it will also form a narrative, once cities and places have more power, which can support their own economic efforts.  If you devolve powers from Whitehall, it makes no sense for them to carry on handling your whole economic destiny on your behalf.

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Vince Cable and Danny Alexander to be confirmed as Election Spokesmen for Cabinet jobs they have been doing for the last five years

 

Exclusive, Vince Cable will lose his economy job with the Lib Dems tomorrow screams the Spectator headline. In fact, this is the second biggest surprise since the sun last rose in the East. The first biggest surprise, by the way, was that Alex Salmond would stand in Gordon where he faces defeat by Lib Dem Christine Jardine in May.

Anyway, back to the story which is about the party announcing its spokespeople for the General Election. It is hardly a surprise that Vince and Danny have been named as covering the roles they have been doing for the last five years. Doesn’t sound quite so scandalous that way, does it? Some might say that’s a sensible choice and would be more of a story if it weren’t that way round.

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LibLink: Danny Alexander – Liberal Democrats have no part in Tory plans for harsh cuts and empty tax promises

The two Coalition parties continue the process of “conscious uncoupling” today. Yesterday, George Osborne said the Lib Dems threatened the economic recovery. Today, it’s a case of straight back atcha from Danny Alexander, as he lays bare the difference between the Lib Dem and Tory economic approach ahead of the May 2015 election in an article in today’s Telegraph:

Last Wednesday, the Coalition delivered another Autumn Statement that stuck to the strategy we’ve had since 2010: clearing up Labour’s mess in the public finances and doing so fairly; reforms to reward work and improve the UK’s long-term growth prospects. This

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The graph which shows why the Lib Dem policy of raising the personal allowance is the wrong priority

Here’s a graph which should make Lib Dems who continue to advocate increasing the personal allowance as an effective way to help low- and middle-income earners sit up and pay attention.

It’s from the Resolution Foundation’s report, Missing the target: tax cuts and low to middle income Britain, published yesterday.

What it shows is which households gain from the party’s policy to increase the threshold at which income tax is payable to £12,500 over the course of the next parliament. As you can see, those households which benefit most are at the wealthier end of the spectrum; the poorest 20% benefit least.

res fdn tax cuts lib dem graph 1

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LibLink: Danny Alexander – The coalition has helped, not hurt the poor

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterDanny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, has an article in today’s Observer rejecting the paper’s front page lead last week headlined ‘Revealed: how coalition has helped rich by hitting poor’.

I absolutely reject this assertion. Nick Clegg and I led the Liberal Democrats into coalition not just to rescue the British economy from the aftermath of the 2008 crash, but to do so fairly.

He details, with examples, various of the Coalition’s policies which aren’t picked up in the analysis reported by the Observer …

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The tale of Danny Alexander and the Big Raspberry*

So, Danny Alexander has been having lunch with some journalists today. The conversation, according to Kevin Maguire, was mature and relevant, discussing the important issues of the day.

You would have to be really sad to type “Danny Alexander fart” into Google, wouldn’t you?

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Lib Dem “senior strategists”, what are you thinking?

I know that in the run-up to an election, not every story that newspapers print, especially those newspapers which are hostile to us which is, let’s face it, all of them, is grounded in accuracy.

You would think that we would help ourselves, though. Who on earth has said in the hearing of the Telegraph that the party fears that Danny Alexander will lose his Inverness seat?

Danny Alexander will lose his seat at the next general election unless there is a radical turnaround in fortunes, a senior Liberal Democrat strategist has privately warned.

The source believes the Chief Secretary to the Treasury’s closeness to the austerity cuts and George Osborne will create an “anti-Danny” backlash among constituents that could topple him.

It raises the prospect of one of the four most influential figures in the Coalition being kicked out of politics in less than six months.

Whoever wrote this article knows nothing about the proud, liberal tradition in the Highlands which is deeply offended by the SNP Government’s indiscriminate use of unregulated stop and search and armed police patrolling their peaceful communities. Danny has been vociferous in standing up to them, and on their concentration of resources in the central belt rather than on providing a fit for purpose trunk road to the north.

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Danny Alexander, not Vince Cable, designated Lib Dem shadow chancellor (oh, and no Lib Dem reshuffle)

speech danny alexander 6The Guardian’s Nick Watt reports today the long-trailed announcement that Danny Alexander, Lib Dem chief secretary to the treasury, will take on the role of the party’s shadow chancellor at the 2015 election:

Nick Clegg has decided that Alexander, his closest ally in the cabinet, will be the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman during the campaign and will face George Osborne and Ed Balls in any television debates on the economy. … The Lib Dems insisted that the election roles for Alexander and Cable were consistent with their cabinet roles. A Lib Dem spokesman said: “We are enormously fortunate to have two talented and well-known ministers on economic matters that are recognised and respected by the public. By the next election Danny Alexander and Vince Cable will have both served for five years as chief secretary and business secretary respectively, so they know their areas inside out. It therefore makes complete sense that they should continue in those roles during the election.”

I’ve made no secret of my view on this: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Vince Cable should have continued in the role he held in 2010 as the party’s shadow chancellor. He is, quite simply, head and shoulders above any of his colleagues when it comes not only to understanding the British economy, but, just as crucially, explaining it in a way that is both credible and distinct from the Tories.

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Danny Alexander’s stroll on the Grassy Knoll and other great #dannyswalks

Twitter is evil. We all knew that, right?

And it can be very funny.

And even evilly funny.

Out of the most innocent and an assuming of gestures, it can make a Big Internet Thing.

And so it was when all that Danny Alexander did was change his cover photo. He picked an image of him walking alongside Loch Morlich, near Aviemore in the heart of his Highland constituency.  In the shadow of Cairngorm mountain itself, he strolled, casually dressed.

And then Hannah Thompson, who you may remember is the woman whose brilliant campaign against revenge porn is about to change the law to make it an offence, casually mused:

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Mental health – an issue whose time came at Glasgow

Nick clegg and norman lamb at scottish action mental health photo by dave radcliffe from the liberal democrats flickr streamBased on my circumambulation of the Glasgow conference corridors, there were three highlights concerning mental health:

1. Oxford West and Abingdon conference representative, Matthew Sumption made his maiden speech in the pre-manifesto debate. He’s currently taking time out from university study. But, my goodness me, what a brave young man he is. He basically stood up and said that he is undergoing treatment for mental illness.

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Who should be the Lib Dem shadow chancellor in 2015 – Vince or Danny? Here’s what Lib Dem members think…

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

ldv vince danny

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All in a day’s Lib Dem conference: hustings, fringes, OMOV and sex work

It’s felt like a slow start to conference – I’m habituated to the Friday night rally and meaty policy debates starting at bleary o’clock on Saturday morning. But with the rally moved to Saturday night, conference itself wasn’t opened until this afternoon.

20141004_100527_resizedHowever, that meant there was time this morning for the first official hustings of the Party Presidential contest, with Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne all present. In fact, there was possibly too much time – 90 minutes in a too-efficiently air-conditioned room at times dragged a little. No fault of the candidates themselves – they were all fluent and thoughtful – but they also all agreed on pretty much everything of substance. All pledged to be the independent voice of the membership and to speak truth unto leadership power.

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Senior Liberal Democrats react as Scots vote to stay in UK

The sovereign will of the Scottish people, by a margin of, give or take a bit, 55%-45 %, is to stay in the UK. In voting No, they put their trust in David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg to deliver more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Here’s how senior Liberal Democrats reacted. First,  Nick Clegg:

I’m absolutely delighted the Scottish people have taken this momentous decision to safeguard our family of nations for future generations.

In a dangerous and uncertain world I have no doubt we are stronger, safer, and more prosperous together than we ever could be apart.

But a vote against independence was clearly not a vote against change and we must now deliver on time and in full the radical package of newly devolved powers to Scotland.

At the same time, this referendum north of the border has led to a demand for constitutional reform across the United Kingdom as people south of the border also want more control and freedom in their own hands rather than power being hoarded in Westminster.

So this referendum marks not only a new chapter for Scotland within the UK but also a new chapter of constitutional renewal across the UK.

Willie Rennie:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 4th May - 2:41am
    PS, the cost of the sweeteners should form a major part of the IN campaign. Unnecessary panicking won't do anyone any good. I would likely...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 4th May - 2:17am
    It's all quite simple. If we leave the EU then we offer businesses sweeteners to make up for it. No need to panic.
  • User AvatarSteve Comer 4th May - 1:42am
    Why the hell are we getting sucked into this whole silly game of drawing 'red lines' in the first place. All this sort of talk...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 4th May - 1:37am
    @ David-1 Most of the red lines are the things on the front page of the manifesto and these were agreed by our Federal Policy...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 4th May - 1:16am
    @ TCO “Perhaps you could share the reality of how conference reps are chosen” Currently Conference reps are chosen by the members of the local...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 4th May - 1:08am
    Nick Clegg's authority to make up "red lines" on behalf of the Party is very questionable. Given that the odds of him remaining in Parliament...