Tag Archives: Danny Alexander

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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‘Bedroom Tax': Lib Dem Andrew George’s Affordable Homes Bill wins key Commons vote backed by Lib Dem / Labour MPs

andrew georgeA year ago Lib Dem members voted at the party’s conference for an urgent review of the impact of what’s termed by critics the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Two months ago Danny Alexander announced he’d be recommending a major U-turn on the policy. And this afternoon, as the BBC reports, Lib Dem MPs teamed up with Labour to vote through reforms which mean that tenants who cannot be found a smaller home will be exempt from the cuts, as well as disabled people who need a spare bedroom or who have adapted homes:

Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs have joined forces to defeat Conservatives in a Commons vote to partly overturn housing benefit changes. MPs backed the Affordable Homes Bill at second reading by 306 votes to 231.

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Danny Alexander says EU membership would not be possible with Salmond’s “bonkers” sterlingisation plan

I wrote last night that Alex Salmond’s plan to use the pound come what amy after independence would  lead to higher personal credit costs as well as higher national debt costs. According to Danny Alexander it might also compromise Scotland’s EU membership.  He has a letter from the former EU Commissioner Oli Rehn who told him that it would “not be possible” for Scotland to join the EU while using someone else’s currency.

Rehn said in a letter sent to Danny today:

As to the question whether ‘sterlingisation’ were compatible with EU membership, the answer is that this would simply not be possible, since that would obviously imply a situation where the candidate country concerned would not have a monetary authority of its own and thus no necessary instruments of the EMU.

This certainly puts more doubt as if there wasn’t enough already on the Yes Campaign’s  currency plans. No doubt they will have  whole load eminent people lined up in the morning to tell us that it’s all going to be fine and we shouldn’t worry about it, but people aren’t daft. In fact, they will probably say that it strengthens their case for a currency union and surely the nasty UK wouldn’t deny them that, especially when they would have a mandate for it from the referendum. Except that the mandate wouldn’t apply to the rest of the UK.

Danny announced this a little while ago in a speech at Chatham House. He probably showed a little too much glee to be honest. A more thoughtful “look, we did try to investigate to see if it would be possible but regrettably it isn’t” tone  might be a little more appropriate. We don’t really need more aggression and dissonance in all of this. People are turning off. The most common reaction of my Facebook friends to last week’s ill-tempered debate between Darling and Salmond was to switch of. A “more in sorrow than anger” approach might keep them listening.

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Danny Alexander sets out vision for more powers after a No vote in the Scottish referendum

Danny, Charles, Willie in InvernessOn Friday night, Danny Alexander, Willie Rennie and Charles Kennedy held a public meeting in Inverness on the independence referendum. A key theme was what would happen in the event of a No vote. For Highland communities, rule from Edinburgh is every bit as dangerous as rule from London. Nowhere has this been as keenly demonstrated as through the centralisation of the Scottish police force. This has now led to armed police being present on routine duties on the streets of peaceful Highland towns and communities with the wishes of residents and the local authority being casually disregarded.

I was quite impressed to see even a central belt Labour MP get the need for making the A9 dual carriageway the other week. Michael Connarty and I were on the panel at a Better Together event in Bathgate and he was slating the SNP’s centralisation agenda so you can tell how bad things are getting up here.

While the specifics of Danny’s speech were Highland related, there is a lot in there for anyone who’s interested in the general question of more powers. He used the F word, too, saying that federalism was much more radical and liberal than independence.

I think we are definitely within touching distance of being able to get a good bit down the road towards the Federal UK that Liberal Democrats want. It’s clear that the outcome will be close enough that if there is no noticeable change, we will be here again within a decade. Obviously full federalism needs the rest of the UK’s agreement but there is much that could be done, as set out in the report of Sir Menzies Campbell’s Home Rule Commission.

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Danny Alexander doing Facebook Q and A on Scottish Independence Referendum tonight at 6 pm

Danny's indyref q and a

 

 

Danny Alexander will be answering questions on Facebook tonight for half an hour from 6 pm. If you have a question, you can submit it via the “You Decide” Facebook page which is run by the Scotland Office.

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Danny Alexander and David Torrance discuss the Independence Referendum

imageIt is an hour and six minutes of your life you won’t get back, but it is actually worth listening to this conversation between Danny Alexander and political commentator David Torrance as part of Dundee University’s Five Million Questions project.

David has just written a book on Federalism so it was obvious he was going to be quizzing Danny on that subject.

It’s also available on You Tube here. Enjoy. It’s much better than a lot of the hot air around the independence referendum.

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Danny Alexander says Liberal Democrats will continue free museum access

Danny Alexander at 10 Downing StreetAccess to museums and galleries such as the British Museum, the Tate Modern, the Science Museum and the V & A will remain free under new Liberal Democrat proposals according to The Guardian which quotes Danny Alexander as saying:

Our museums and galleries are some of the best in the world. They are a source of inspiration and education for millions across the country. As Liberal Democrats in government we’ve played our full part in making sure they have the funding and operating freedoms to widen access to all parts of society. The fact that attendance is at record levels and that last year was the first time that a majority of people had visited a museum or gallery shows that free access is a policy that works.

“We’re now committing to maintaining that free access in the next parliament so that people from all backgrounds and income groups can make use of these great institutions without concerns about the cost. I see this as another way of helping make sure that as many people as possible have the best chance of getting on in life.

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Danny Alexander: “We would all be diminished by Scottish independence”

imageWith just a month to go before the referendum on Scottish independence, Danny Alexander gave an interview to yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph emphasising that a vote for independence would be forever and that he would be “desperately sad” to see the UK, with its strong social and economic ties, break up.

He suggested that people from other parts of the UK could urge their family and friends in Scotland to vote No on September 18th.

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Lib Dems pledge more tax cuts: after personal allowance raised to £12.5k will also increase National Insurance threshold

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterToday’s big announcement from the Lib Dems has been the “plan to cut your tax bill further”. Here’s how The Guardian reports it:

The Liberal Democrats are to burnish their credentials as the tax-cutting party for the low paid by floating the possibility of cutting national insurance contributions for anyone earning below £12,500 a year.

In a challenge to David Cameron, who is facing pressure from Tory MPs to pledge bold tax cuts as the economy grows, the Lib Dems will promise in their general election manifesto to raise the level at which workers start to pay national insurance contributions.

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Lib Dems have led the case against armed police in the Highlands – not that you’d know from the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland

This time next week, I will be in one of what I think is the most magical places on earth, the Black Isle. The friendly people, gorgeously rich scenery from the fertile farmlands to the wonderful pink-sanded Rosemarkie beach, the rubbish mobile phone signal and the utter peace of the place combine to make it my perfect bolt-hole.  I feel myself relaxing as soon as I get my first view of Munlochy Bay from the A9. It’s pure heaven.

I try very hard when we’re there to do all my shopping from local shops rather than the big supermarkets in Inverness, …

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GDP above pre-crash level; strongest growth in G7

Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show growth of 0.8% in the second quarter of 2014, bringing UK GDP above the level it was before the 2008 crash.

With GDP 3.1% higher than a year earlier, the UK has the fastest growing economy in the G7.

Cheif Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander comments

Today we are passing a major milestone on the long road back to full recovery. There is still a long way to go but Britain has recovered the economic ground lost under Labour and is forging ahead.

The main reason that we stepped forward to

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LibLink: Danny Alexander: We want a fair housing benefit system for every tenant

speech danny alexander 6People wonder why Liberal Democrats supported the Bedroom Tax in the first place. Well, I spent 4 yesrs sitting beside a Liberal Democrat MP when maybe 5 families a week would  come to us and say that they were stuck in a house that was way too small. Their kids had nowhere to study or play. That was what was foremost in their minds when they agreed the Bedroom Tax. They wanted to make it easier for those families. That was their motivation even though I think the …

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5 things Nick Clegg could do next

Nick Clegg Q&A 8My last piece of advice to Nick Clegg was to stand down as Lib Dem leader. He didn’t, and it’s pretty clear now that Nick will lead us into the next general election.

Two problems remain, though, and we need to find ways of addressing them. First, morale in the party has dipped since the May elections. Secondly, support for the party has also dipped in the polls. Yes, Lib Dem MPs benefit from the incumbency effect but that only stretches so far – we also need to start winning the air war, or at the very least avoid being ignored. As it stands, what Nick says just isn’t getting a listening. However unfair, it’s a reality we need to deal with.

Here are five suggestions from me for ways in which Nick Clegg could help restore party morale and maybe get himself a hearing from the media and public…

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LibLink: Danny Alexander: A like-for-like Trident replacement isn’t justifiable in terms of security or cost

110301-N-7237C-009Danny Alexander has written for the Guardian in response to yesterday’s Trident Commission report. He continues to make the case that the policy passed at Liberal Democrat Conference last September, which cut the number of submarines was the right one for two reasons.

First of all, we don’t need continuous at sea deterrence because the nature of the world has changed:

During the cold war, there was a credible threat of a surprise massive attack against this country or Nato allies. Our nuclear forces needed to be available within minutes in order to give credibility to our policy of deterrence. This is why we maintained continuous at-sea deterrence; we kept at least one armed submarine on patrol 24/7, 365 days of the year. But the Berlin Wall has been down now for 25 years and the threat of “state on state” attack is much reduced.

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To OBR or not to OBR? That’s the manifesto audit question

libdemmanifesto 2010 wordleEd Balls wants it. Danny Alexander seems pretty keen on it, too. What is ‘it’? Asking the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to audit the manifestos of political parties.

On the face of it, that’s a good idea. Transparency’s a good thing and surely the public deserve to know as much as possible before we cast our once-in-five-years ballot which decides the next government? The case in favour is persuasively put by Giles Wilkes, until recently a special adviser to Vince Cable who has seen the …

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Maybe tinned tomatoes are cheaper in Legoland…

Lego ProstituteOh Danny!

From the Telegraph, a full month before the silly season, an amusingly cringeworthy non-story:

As Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander is supposed to ensure that Britain does not spend beyond its means as he helps implement the Coalition’s austerity plan.

But the senior Liberal Democrat was left embarrassed when he found himself unable to balance the books when he joined in a children’s shopping challenge.

Pupils from Cauldeen Primary School in Inverness all passed the test for buying food for one person for a week within a £10 budget.
However,

photo by: randomlife
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Opinion: Liberal Democrats’ principled decision gives civil servants continued workplace protection they need

PCS picketOne of the announcements at Nick Clegg’s press conference on Monday was his categorical rejection of Tory ministers’ attempts to abolish check-off across government.

What’s check-off? This isn’t a Michael Gove attempt to ban a celebrated Russian playwright, it’s a mundane administrative convenience which allows members of trade unions to pay their union subscription by getting their employer to deduct it from their wage packet and send it on for them.

Union members like check-off because it’s the easiest way to keep their subs up to date. Trade unions like it because …

photo by: secretlondon123
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Research on impact of change of leader on four key seats

Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and Vince Cable vote for the Make it Happen resolutionThe Guardian today leads with a sorry tale headlined: Clegg taking Lib Dems to wipeout.

An unnamed Lib Dem supporter has commissioned ICM to carry out research in four key Lib Dem constituencies, including Nick Clegg’s own seat, and the report has been leaked to the Guardian.

Voters were asked how they would vote in a General Election if the party were led by Nick Clegg, Vince Cable or Danny Alexander.

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Nick Clegg’s leadership: A summary of the coverage

Nick Clegg visits Manchester VelodromeWell, there was a certain inevitability that poor election results would lead to calls for Nick Clegg to resign. Today, the papers are full of comments from activists and MPs critical of the Deputy Prime Minister.

John Hemming, John Pugh and Adrian Sanders have all gone public with their criticism of Clegg. It should be noted that none of them are particularly noted for being his biggest fans. There is a certain irony that where there were elections on their patches, they did reasonably well. In Pugh’s Southport …

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LibLink: Danny Alexander: The European Elections are not just a sideshow

European Union flagDanny Alexander has written for British Influence about the importance of electing MEPs who actually give a damn about making Europe work and making it work better tomorrow.

He compares and contrasts the respective value of UKIP and Liberal Democrat MEPs:

UKIP MEPs have already shown that they are incapable of standing up for Britain in Brussels. Time and again, they have missed crucial votes or opposed key reforms that improve the lives of British citizens. UKIP themselves admit in their manifesto that “we don’t go there to make

photo by: YanniKouts
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Danny Alexander and Alison McInnes challenge SNP on armed police in Scotland

Police motorbike - Some rights reserved by Metropolitan PoliceI’ve written several times recently about how policing has changed in Scotland since Scotland’s eight police forces were merged into one.  Concerns have been expressed on a number of issues:

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Danny Alexander speaks out against use of armed and mounted Police in the Highlands

Police on Horse BackIn February, I reported that Danny Alexander had spoken out about the use of Police horses in his Highland constituency. As a native of Inverness I shared his sense of horror that anti-riot policing techniques were being used in the peaceable and safe Highland capital.

Danny had written to the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to express his concern about such unprecedented, heavy-handed policing, to to mention the cost of bringing the horses up from Ayrshire at a time when the service is closing local control rooms. He’s …

photo by: joncandy
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Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael go independence myth busting

Saltire and Forth BridgeBoth Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael have tried their hand at taking on some of the pro-independence supporters’ claims about the consequences of independence today with varying degrees of success.

Before I start, I usually try to refer to SNP and Yes supporters as pro-indy people or something like that but it’s a bit clumsy. I say the Yes Lot, too, as long as people know I’m doing it in good spirit.  I don’t really like calling them Nationalists because the likes of Jim Murphy use that as a …

photo by: 4652 Paces
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Danny Alexander: UKIP is wrong on jobs, wrong on prosperity and wrong on security

Danny-Alexander

Today, The City UK publishes two reports which, they say, “show that leaving the EU poses very significant risks to the UK’s future, undermining economic well-being and the ability of business to grow and compete in world markets.” All in all, “A Legal Assessment of the UK’s relationship with the EU – a financial services perspective” and “Analysing the case for EU membership – How does the economic evidence stack up? predict a quadruple whammy of higher prices and unemployment, lower growth and wages should Britain leave the EU. That’s before you …

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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. Over 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

vince or danny

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Danny Alexander: More people in work than ever before, earnings now rising in line with prices

speech danny alexander 6Two pieces of good economic news today, as the BBC reports:

UK unemployment falls to five-year low of 2.2m

The number of people out of work in the UK has fallen by 77,000 to a five-year low of 2.24m in the three months to February, official figures indicate. The unemployment rate now stands at 6.9% of the adult working population, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

After six years, wages finally overtake inflation

After nearly six years of falling real wages, weekly earnings have finally edged above inflation. Weekly wages, including bonuses, rose by 1.7% in the year to February, up from 1.4% in January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Earlier this week, inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), fell to 1.6%. It is the first time that earnings have been higher than inflation for six years, apart from two months in 2010.

Here’s what the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander had to say:

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Danny Alexander tells Bloomberg of Liberal Democrat contribution to fair recovery and plans for Mansion Tax

Danny Alexander by Paul WalterDanny Alexander gave a big speech at Bloomberg this morning. Interestingly, he mentioned several times that he was from the Highlands and credited his upbringing in a small community with forming his commitment to fairness and managing resources wisely.

It was a wide-ranging speech, which looked back at the almost four years since he entered the Treasury. He said that some of the detail of getting to grips with the economic crisis would have to wait for his memoirs which he hoped would be “some way off”.  His main theme was that the Liberal Democrats were, uniquely, capable of managing the economy fairly. It was another variation of the “stronger economy, fairer society” melody.

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Danny, please listen to Charles Kennedy before you write about the Independence Referendum again

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TDanny Alexander’s article on the Independence Referendum in yesterday’s Sunday Times (£) was, for me, a frustrating read. If I’m honest, it was actually like nails being dragged down a blackboard.  Full of language like damaging, devastating and divorce, t is absolutely not what we need at this stage of the campaign. He even brought in the spectre of not being able to sustain the NHS in an independent Scotland. 

A poll published in yesterday’s Scotland on Sunday

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Independent: “Lib Dems fall out over who should take on George Osborne in election debate”

Cable alexander clegg some rights reserved by liberal democratsStephen Tall’s article here yesterday – Without a shadow of a doubt: Vince Cable should be the Lib Dems’ Shadow Chancellor at the 2015 election – has been picked up by today’s Independent:

As the minority coalition partner, the Lib Dems do not have a shadow chancellor. Nick Clegg must choose between the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who represented the Lib Dems in the 2010 debate.

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Without a shadow of a doubt: Vince Cable should be the Lib Dems’ Shadow Chancellor at the 2015 election

Vincent CableOne of the quirks of being in coalition is the Lib Dems no longer have a shadow chancellor. But we shall need one in time for the 2015 general election – not least for the traditional televised ‘Ask the Chancellors’ debate.

There have been newspaper reports that there’s some jockeying for this position, with the Financial Times reporting that “Senior Lib Dems say the high-profile job is very likely to go to Danny Alexander, the Treasury chief secretary”.

Meanwhile, over at the New Statesman, Lib Dem blogger Richard Morris …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter 30th Sep - 6:48pm
    I've just checked the UK average wage. It looks as though Ms Lindsay's plan is to have average wage earners (and of course the 50%...
  • User AvatarPeter 30th Sep - 6:31pm
    @ jedibeeftrix Well said, but if I may point out that Ms Lindsay is insisting that capping the benefit is a disgrace. That means that...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 30th Sep - 6:19pm
    David Allen You ask this question ---" .....are you not at risk of making your own value judgment as to which “people” you wish to...
  • User AvatarGlenn Andrews 30th Sep - 6:12pm
    In his zeal this IDS chap looked one step away from appearing on stage in a twin set and pearls with a penguin glove puppet...
  • User Avatarjohnmc 30th Sep - 6:11pm
    Why is the benefits cap wrong in the first place, and why ought it not to decrease if circumstances require, (as average earnings have)? Even...
  • User Avatarjedibeeftrix 30th Sep - 6:10pm
    @ AndrewR - "If you earn that little it’s doubtful you’re even covering your own cost to the state never mind paying for anyone else."...