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.

This story is also not news. I knew about it months ago. I was pretty pleased to hear it too. Craig was the architect of Mike Pringles’s sensational 2003 Scottish Parliament victory in Edinburgh South.

We know from the Ashcroft Poll in his seat that Danny has a tough fight on his hands, but I wouldn’t bet against him. He has always been a conscientious constituency MP and the local elections in his seat were much better for us even at the height of the coalition’s troubles. I know Inverness very well because it’s where I come from and I go there often (not often enough in my view). Ten years ago we used to wince at the price of petrol in the Highlands. One of the first things Danny did as MP was to start a successful campaign for fairer fuel prices for the Highlands.When I was last up in March, I was quite shocked to find that petrol was actually 4p per litre cheaper than in my local central belt petrol station.

In government he’s also secured a duty cut for the most remote parts of the country.

Inverness has always been a pretty liberal place and local people did not take kindly to the new all-Scotland police force imposing armed and mounted police on the area.

I wouldn’t bet against Danny making it back to Westminster next month.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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23 Comments

  • Steve Comer 12th Apr '15 - 6:21pm

    I’m amused by this non-story in the Herald, but wonder what effect this navel gazing coverage is having?

    The Herald could have done a piece contrasting the POLICIES that Danny and his SNP opponent have for the Highlands, but of course that might mean some serious research and analysis, and meaningless gossip is so much easier for the press to write about!

  • Jane Ann Liston 12th Apr '15 - 8:25pm

    Absolutely, Steve. The Sunday Herald teems with lazy journalism like this, which is trying to insinuate that there is something untoward going on regarding a LibDem campaign. (Somehow, I don’t think such nonsense would be written about the SNP campaigns.) It suggests that Danny’s strategy is paying dividends, hence the attempt to muddy the water with a little innuendo.

  • Peter Chegwyn 12th Apr '15 - 9:32pm

    I used to visit Inverness in the days when the formidable and much-loved Annie Nicholson was agent to Sir Russell Johnston, helping the Liberals and then Lib. Dems. to seven successive General Election victories.

    Sir Russell managed to win with just over 25% in one close 4-cornered contest. Danny will need to poll quite a bit more to see off the SNP. Having been in the constituency late last month I’m not as confident as you Caron that he’ll do it.

  • I sense a portillo moment coming

  • Dylan. Portillo lost to great surprise an ultra safe seat and his majority government list an election. There is no similarity with Danny’s position since most people expect him not to hang on.

  • I suspect a number of labour and Liberals will be looking for new seats after this election, and who can blame people for deciding not to try trust politicians of labour or the Liberals any more, and yes I did vote Liberal at the last election, but not this one.

  • You can get 5/1 on him holding his seat, it’s 1/6 the SNP will take it. It will be a major shock if he holds on.

  • Martin Pierce 12th Apr '15 - 11:28pm

    We can but hope that one of the few silver linings in the looming catastrophe will be that as a Lib Dem I no longer have to be embarrassed by his car crash TV interviews. I feel sorry for the guy – I mean, one day he’s minding his own business writing press releases for the Cairngorms National Park and the next David Laws messes up his expenses and there he is, number 2 in the Treasury. It wasn’t what was planned, and it shows.

  • Tsar Nicholas 13th Apr '15 - 4:35am

    Dylan 12th Apr ’15 – 9:53pm

    “I sense a portillo moment coming”

    With DA it’s more likely to be a carry-on-here’s-a-custard-pie-in-your-face moment.

    The real Portillo moment is developing in Sheffield Hallam . . .

  • Peter Chegwyn 12th Apr ’15 – 9:32pm
    “…………. the formidable and much-loved Annie Nicholson was agent to Sir Russell Johnston, helping the Liberals and then Lib. Dems. to seven successive General Election victories.”

    Inverness was a bit like Montgomery in Wales in general elections when the results were not good from elsewhere you could rely on them to elect a Liberal. I hope they will both do the same this time.
    The fear is that as Andrew Neil quipped yesterday, — it is now not so much Danny Boy as Desperate Dan.

  • Your imperial excellency. A potential Clegg loss has been flagged by ashcroft polling and discussed in the media. If he lost his seat it would not be a surprise. Furthermore the lib dems are not a single party government going for a fifth term.

  • I wonder how much Danny Alexander has been damaged in his own constituency by the promises that he made whilst in opposition and in the run up to the 2010 election.

    He appeared on TV documentaries talking about Disability Benefits and the problems with the Work Capability Tests and Atos. He promised to be a force in government and champion these causes.

    I don’t know if this is a big issue for the people of the highlands,I imagine so otherwise I do not know why DA would have taken such a pivotal part in the documentary.

    Since Danny has been in Government, he has done nothing for sick and disabled people, not once as he spoken out against the unfair Work Capability Test, The only times I have heard him talk about changes to welfare was when he has defended the governments cuts and reforms.

    I a not surprised that Danny is going to have a fight on his hands to retain his seat.

    When you are in opposition and you take part in TV programs making all sorts of promises and claiming to champion all sorts of causes, then end up in government and do the complete opposite.
    When it comes to re-election you are going to suffer from a severe credibility crisis.

  • John Barrett 13th Apr '15 - 9:16am

    Matt…I am sure Danny used to be the party’s Westminster spokesman on disability in the early part of the 2005-2010 Parliament, that would explain his part in the documentary before the last election.

  • Thanks John Barrett

    Kind of makes it a bit worse then, if that was his brief whilst in opposition where he would have learnt first hand just how bad, unfair and broken the system is, then abandon that knowledge and his principles once in Government in favor of harsher reforms that have made things even worse for sick and disabled people.

    Especially when it is now being suggested that some of the Employment and Support Allowance Reforms ( Support Group) has been skewed against women to make it harder for them to get into the support group compared to men http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3029-new-scoring-system-for-substantial-risk
    and
    http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3040-support-group-entry-now-harder-for-women-freud-confirms

  • Tsar Nicholas 13th Apr '15 - 9:44am

    Tabman 13th Apr ’15 – 8:21am

    “Your imperial excellency. A potential Clegg loss has been flagged by ashcroft polling and discussed in the media. If he lost his seat it would not be a surprise. ”

    Despite the debate and discussion I think that it will still come as a shock to Lib Dems. They may know that he is up for the chop but they do not feel it in their heart of hearts.

    I am grateful to you for addressing me correctly. You have no idea how irksome it is to be called Tsar or, worse, Nick.

  • Actually Simon I can.

    This was a coalition government. We did not have to have 5 years of complete collective cabinet responsibility.

    One Party Governments may need to stick to these principles, however, a coalition government should be different.

    After all that is how “We” the public get to assess the effectiveness of the junior party in government, by seeing the concessions and compromises they have managed.

    Coalition Governments around Europe manage to have stable governments doing exactly this,

    It was foolish for Clegg and those pulling the parties reigns to decide to manage coalition the way in which they did which was not transparent, something that Clegg promised his party would be if he got into government.

  • matt 13th Apr ’15 – 8:51am …..When you are in opposition and you take part in TV programs making all sorts of promises and claiming to champion all sorts of causes, then end up in government and do the complete opposite.
    When it comes to re-election you are going to suffer from a severe credibility crisis….

    I hope you’re not suggesting that the LibDem leadership would ever do such a thing? After all, the polls, loss of councillors/ MEPs, etc., is because the electorate don’t understand us…

  • Your imperial excellency. The deliciousness of the Portillo moment was both its unexpectedness and the accompanying thought that if he can go, anyone can.

    We’very been told as a party to expect electoral wipe out (fewer than 10 MPs on UNS) do even if party members will be deeply saddened.

    I think it is only right to give a broadly well meaning but hopelessly out of touch autocrat his dues, by the way.

  • Tsar Nicholas 13th Apr '15 - 3:35pm

    Tabman

    “I think it is only right to give a broadly well meaning but hopelessly out of touch autocrat his dues, by the way.”

    I think it’s Osborne who’s been the autocrat at the Treasury, not DA.

  • peter tyzack 13th Apr '15 - 3:36pm

    As a campaign fund-raiser, I think we should be making edible hats for some of those commenting above to wear on election night..

  • Peter Chegwyn 13th Apr '15 - 6:02pm

    Peter Tyzack – I’m sure that if you make her an edible hat, Caron will happily eat it. Like many of us she’ll probably be a bit peckish by the end of Polling Day.

    John Tilley – You’re right, we used to be able to rely on the likes of Montgomery and Inverness… but not any more. Though if we are to gain any seats anywhere this time I’d suggest Montgomery is still one of the most likely due to its long-standing Liberal credentials. The bookies also reckon we’ve a better chance of winning Montgomery than Inverness.

  • Tsar Nicholas 13th Apr '15 - 6:13pm

    Peter Chegwyn

    I have an ingrained scepticism about women promising to eat hats – edible or not.

    I am still waiting for Kirstie Allsopp to eat her hat after she said she would in 2007 if house prices ever fell.

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