Tag Archives: Danny Alexander

A tale of two Lib Dem knights

Twice in the last 8 days a former Liberal Democrat Cabinet Minister has headed to the Palace to kneel before Prince Charles to formally receive their knighthood.

Last week it was the turn of Sir Danny Alexander, who said:

It was a great honour and a wonderful ceremony and it’s all rather humbling.

It was something I didn’t expect but it is a real honour to have the recognition for the work I did in the coalition government – turning the economy around and getting the country on the right track.

Today, Sir Vince Cable had his big day. The Yorkshire Post has the story:

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“Soggy Syriza with sandals” – thanks, Danny, for giving Osborne a stick to beat us with

I almost choked on my Earl Grey this morning when I read Danny Alexander’s piece in the New Statesman in which he suggested that there was much to cheer in George Osborne’s budget. I wondered if he had forgotten that May, you know, happened?

The reason we lost so many seats to the Tories is,  at least in part,  that the people who voted for us no longer felt that we represented their values, the sorts of values that had seen us stand up for freedom and social justice. Those people turned to the Greens and Labour. Yes, of course the Tory tactics over the SNP were relevant but we kind of stoked that by legitimising it.

We also made a great thing during the election campaign of talking about our opposition to the Tories’ £12 billion welfare cuts proposals, much of which we had stopped in government. Now Danny suggests that we shouldn’t go out of our way to oppose them in opposition:

Neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats should envisage a future as a sort of soggy Syriza in sandals. I  don’t like some of the welfare reforms in the Budget, but to make it the political dividing line is to fail to recognise the views of most people.

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Willie Rennie on the roar of the Ginger Rodent

Never forget what Chris Grayling said to SNP MP Pete Wishart on Tuesday night. Here’s the exact quote from Hansard:

Let me also say to him and his colleagues that I regard their presence in the House as a great asset. I would much rather have them than 57 Liberal Democrats.

That would have nothing to do with the Liberal Democrats spending five years making life very difficult for the Tories and stopping them from brining in the sorts of measures that give to the rich while taking from the poorest and youngest at the most difficult stages in their lives as they did in yesterday’s budget.

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LibLink: Danny Alexander: The Charles Kennedy I knew

Danny Alexander has been writing about his memories of Charles Kennedy for the Spectator. His first experience of him was when he was a party press office and Charles was already an MP:

The first time I spoke to him was as a young press officer for the Scottish Lib Dems, nervously recommending that we cancel a press conference because the material was not quite ready. I expected the hairdryer treatment, but he was pleased. ‘When you have nothing to say,’ he replied, ‘best say nothing at all.’ He followed his own advice — which meant that, as party leader, he did not imitate the frenetic pace of Paddy Ashdown. This earned him criticism, but his style was to pick battles carefully, and fight them well.

He supported Danny in his campaign to become an MP in 2005:

When I was selected to contest the Highland constituency next to his, then held by Labour, I expected to see little of him. I was wrong. He gave ample and generous support, letting me sit in at his constituency surgeries to better understand how Parliament works — or, more accurately, how it should work. He taught me that politicians should never lose sight of who they’re working for.

Danny talks about Charles’ Highland crofting mindset:

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Five Liberal Democrat ex-MPs turn down the ermine

Honourable mentions for Messrs Cable, Laws, Alexander, Baker and Hughes who have, according to the Guardian, turned down or said they are not interested in offers of peerages in the dissolution honours:

Four senior Liberal Democrat politicians defeated in the general election, including former business secretary Vince Cable, have turned down offers of a peerage from Nick Clegg in the dissolution honours list. It is understood that David Laws, the former education minister, Simon Hughes, the former justice minister, and former Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander have also decided to reject a chance to sit in the House of Lords.

The Lords is likely to be a battleground for the government since the Conservatives do not have an overall majority in the upper chamber, even though in practice there are strict limits on how far peers can resist central planks of legislation agreed by the Commons. The Liberal Democrats currently have 101 peers, Labour 214, the Conservatives 178 and crossbenchers 224.

Hughes, a former deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, who lost his Southwark and Bermondsey seat to Labour, told guests at a recent birthday party: “I don’t believe in an unelected second chamber. When you see the list I will not be on it. I am not going there.”

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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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