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:

It suits many, on both left and right, to airbrush the Liberal Democrats out of the economic recovery story. But they are wrong. This economic recovery has a Liberal Democrat stripe running through the middle of it. It belongs as much to the orange half of the coalition as the blue half. It belongs as much to Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and Danny Alexander as it does to David Cameron and George Osborne.

This hasn’t been a conscience-less crunching of services. It has been a carefully calibrated rebalancing with growth, investment and job creation at its heart. That is a Liberal Democrat achievement. Lib Dems should shout about it from the rooftops.

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  • Liam Bryne’s note was intended as a private joke.

    What kind of person leaks and wilfully misrepresents a private note for political advantage, then continues to do so for several years long after the fact that it was a private joke is public knowledge?

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Apr '15 - 2:31pm

    The problem with this is, as well as the entire strategy, is that the Lib Dem manifesto is basically the same as Labour’s.

    Hardly any support for business and defence, with lots of support for public services (other than defence).

    It’s not good enough.

  • @Eddie Sammon agreed we need to be committing to expeditionary warfare by completing (and filling) our carriers and support ships, and equipping for global intervention.

  • Tony Greaves 24th Apr '15 - 5:13pm

    Not sure about conscience but services have been crunched. Denying that will get us nowhere.

    Tony Greaves http://liberallord.com

  • Eddie Sammon
    You have swallowed the spin about defence spending which is regularly put out by those generals and admirals who like their uniforms and their dinners in London Clubs with journalists. (there are a lot of them behind desks in Whitehall, but they only see any real troops or ships when they watch TV).

    Our friend the Jedi posted a link to a RUSI article recently on options for our armed forces. Whilst he and I would differ on conclusions and future defence spending the link he provided did actually provide a number of reasonable points about the future.

    It all depends what you want your armed forces for. In the 2010 General Election Nick Clegg was very vocal about the fact that our navy was “top heavy” with more admirals than ships. More recently an FOI question revealed that the MOD owns 15 Golf Course which would raise a considerable sum of money if sold on the open market.

    My point is that with defence spending it all depends on what you spend the money on as well as how much you have to spend.

    You may be happy with Trident and multiple Golf Clubs stuffed full of top brass, but my guess is that these do not put the wind up the Daesh.

  • Given that the national debt has nearly doubled since 2010, Alexander could have gone for the more succinct: “Sorry, I’m afraid there is even less money.”

  • Hmm. Any economy will boom if tons of money is borrowed and spent but if that’s all you’re doing its simply not sustainable. To be sustainable that money has to be mostly spent in such a way that it leaves the economy stronger, fitter, bigger by the time it must be repaid. That means spending it on carefully judged investments, not on politically-motivated bridges to nowhere and certainly not frittering it away on consumption that, once it’s consumed, leaves nothing much behind.

    Time will tell but as far as I can see we, the public, have been treated to a classic bit of conjuring distraction. While everyone is told to look at the government deficit other sources of borrowing have been driven hard. Student debt (for most larger than the per capita share of the national debt, in many cases destined never to be repaid), Help to Buy mortgages and above all the prodigious current account deficit which is just another way of saying we’re borrowing from foreigners like there’s no tomorrow. Projections show household debt rising to crazily unsustainable levels.

    But real investments? A stronger economy? Productivity is falling so the chances that this all ends well aren’t good.

  • I thought the tradition was to leave a note for your successor as Chief Secretary rather than your predecessor bar one. Perhaps he also left one for David Laws telling him to be honest when claiming expenses….

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Apr '15 - 8:14pm

    Hi John, I am not too fussed about Trident, but I would only support getting rid of it if the Armed Forces were significantly strengthened elsewhere.

    We could spend a billion pounds per year on more wages for soldiers. It is not just soldiers who are at risk either – all armed forces personnel take risks, albeit to different degrees.

    We need to value the police and the armed forces as much as the NHS and schools. We shouldn’t be picking “favourite” public services as if the police and the armed forces somehow aren’t essential. The military has tried to replace regular soldiers with reservists and failed to meet its targets massively – probably because the deal isn’t good enough. Personally I think the reservists plan should be scrapped, but only with compensation for the reservists.

    A mighty mess is what I see the country in.

  • Steve, maybe Danny thinks that as Lord Alexander of Inverness he will himself be the next Chief Secretary

  • Gary Parkinson 24th Apr '15 - 11:12pm

    Its all spin, who is the worse culprit?

    The economy is not fixed and the deficit is as big as its ever been and the jobs growth has been downto zero hours contracts, part time employment and sanctions.

    I thought we left nonsense to the main two competing parties and report truth and facts only, just more reasons to be dismayed about politics!

  • All these silly jokes about this and that Grant Shapps spoof release from Paddy.

    Have the bright young things really not got better things to do 13 days before polling day? Get up to Hornsey, Bermondsey or Brent and knock on a few doors.

  • @Jedi
    From my time in the services (albeit it is some years since I left), the golf courses were scrappy 9 hole things squeezed into land that couldn’t be used for anything else, for example the one at HMS Raleigh. There maybe some better ones but then there are also good athletic, footbal and rugby facilities. The services encourages sport from football to bobsleigh, and rightly so it helps teamwork and fitness both essential features of any military body..

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