Archive for ‘Danny Alexander’

January 27, 2011

Another Lib Dem minister falls victim to a pledge picture


Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander probably wishes he hadn’t posed for this picture, as DEFRA Secretary Caroline Spelman is today laying out the process of selling of Britain’s forests on behalf of the Coalition. Oh dear Danny…
VN suspects pledge pictures won’t be such a feature of the next Liberal Democrat election campaign.
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November 18, 2010

>Nick Clegg wins Politician of the Year Award


Nick CleggImage via Wikipedia

After an increasingly trying six months Nick Clegg has finally got some recognition for his recent achievements. He picked up the the Politician of the Year award…at the Spectator’s Parliamentarian of the Year ceremony.

Just what he needs to re-endear himself with the left of his party.

Other moments to note were Ed Balls being awarded Parliamentarian of the Year, by Prime Minister David Cameron, and Osborne and Alexander’s award for ‘Double Act of the Year’. VN can’t wait for their Christmas special.

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November 1, 2010

>Harriet Harpy Eagle

>After her delightful comments about the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, and her rather pathetic apology, VN wondered what animal was a good comparison for the queen of patronising political correctness, Harriet Harman. We think we have found a rather good likeness:

October 28, 2010

>The Lib Dems need to find their William Hague

>When David Laws was forced to resign from the Cabinet the loss to both the Liberal Democrats and the coalition was a immense. The Government lost one of it’s greatest economic assets, and the Lib Dems lost their best fixer. The undoubted power house within the Conservative party is Foreign Secretary William Hague, there is no obvious Liberal Democrat equivalent, someone who can really knock heads together and sort through policy differences for the good of their party and the coalition.

Given his experience as Nick Clegg’s Chief of Staff and manifesto overlord, Danny Alexander was the obvious candidate tot fulfil this role, and was all set to do so. However, now he is in the Treasury time is not so available for him to fulfil such role, particularly without the support of Laws in Cabinet. Deputy Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael is clearly not a man to be messed with, and a highly effective operator, but his job is to make sure government policy is passed, not be part of the sausage factory of making it. Nick Clegg’s right-hand-girl Polly Mackenzie is also highly intelligent, and rightly respected, but clearly doesn’t have the authority of office or the media profile William Hague does.

The Liberal Democrats have been, somewhat unfairly, accused of getting little of their policy enacted. If they are being steamrollered on some issues this problem could lie at the heart of it. David Cameron has clearly employed Hague and Oliver Letwin to hold things together, and help the coalition progress on the Conservative side. The idea was presumably that Laws and Alexander, both key in the negotiations, would fulfil a similar role for the Liberal Democrats. This is clearly not happening anymore, and Clegg would do well to fix it as soon as possible to make sure his party continue to build on the initial success his party have had in government.

September 23, 2010

>Lib Dems in Liverpool-the tale of two conferences

>Over the past few days the Liberal Democrat party have, for the first time in decades, assembled as a party of Government. Something to celebrate you would think? Well according to much of the press that filtered through into the conference bubble, the Echo Arena in Liverpool was filled with a range of emotions veering from discontent to despair.

Clearly VN was hanging out with the wrong people, because that really isn’t what it seemed like. Yes a few had a sense of unease at the difficult decisions ministers are having to take. It would though be more worrying if the party blindly stumbled into government never questioning, analysing, or discussing the decisions the party is now in a position to make. Overall there was a great sense of pride at what the party has achieved, and will achieve in the future. This was demonstrated by constant reminders of what Liberal Democrat policy is being enacted Government, as well as continually introducing inisters with their full Rt. Hon. title. The reception afforded to Nick Clegg (twice), Danny Alexander, Vince Cable, Lynne Featherstone and Tom McNally hardly indicated a conference despairing of the actions of its leadership.

It is worth noting that the phrase ‘Lib Dem values’ was overused to the point of becoming meaningless. The problem with this phrase is that liberalism is a philosophy that is made up of various strands, and the ‘values’ of all of these strands are represented across the Liberal Democrat party. Many times the reference to values was in the context of people’s pride at what Lib Dem ministers are doing in government. Just occasionally it was used as a warning to the same ministers. It is though becoming increasingly clear that that all but the most devout sandal wearers are determined to make the coalition work. Some Lib Dems even actively LIKE the coalition, imagine that…

It was pointed out in an excellent piece in the Guardian that Lib Dems delegates intuitively understand coalition government, and evidence for this could be easily found across the course of the conference. It was typified by the pre-conference comment by the wonderful Shirley Williams that the Liberal Democrat’s and Conservative’s are in ‘two beds’ as opposed to being in bed together. Coalition government doesn’t create a new party, it is two parties working together.

So yes, Liberal Democrats do need to continue to be brave and get on with being in government, instead of continually discussing whether they are happy with how they got there. However, the mutiny the media was desperate for, and tried to dig up, was not evident. It would be nice if come spring conference in Sheffield, journalists could report the actual conference they are at, instead of trying to invent a new one.

June 23, 2010

>The June Budget’s Orange Flavour

>So now we know 

We know that that VAT will go up to 20%, we know that the income tax threshold will be raised by £1000, and we know that most Government department budgets will be reduced by 25%. There will also be changes to the welfare and benefits system, a reduction in corporation tax, as well as a levy on banks.

As someone involved in youth politics I also noted with interest the sale of the student loans book. Labour has buried graduates under a mountain of debt, and it is critical that this sale does not lead to interest being charged on student loans.

Most of it is not that pretty, but neither is the economic mess left behind by 13 years of Labour.

What became increasingly apparent as George Osbourne’s, surprisingly well delivered, budget speech progressed, is just how much influence Liberal Democrats have in the Coalition and its economic policy. There is now a 77/23 split in spending cuts and tax rises, when the Conservatives wanted 80/20, a not inconsiderable shift. The increase in the Income Tax threshold, and the ultimate aim of it being £10,000, is down to the Liberal Democrats. While many in the party are uncomfortable about the increased VAT rate and a small Capital Gains Tax increase, we should be pleased with the distinctly orange flavour this budget had. 

As the Coalition was formed many in the Liberal Democrats expressed fears that the Liberal Democrat voice would be suppressed, that the party would lose its identity. As Mark Thompson points out in an excellent post on his Mark Reckons blog, political times have changed and compromise is essential on the Government benches. I am aware that Bob Russell MP, a man who I have had the pleasure both of meeting and eating his chocolate, is rumoured to be voting against the budget as he campaigned against some of the things in it. 
While not everything we all campaigned on can come to pass, a lot more of it can be put in place than if we were in an unstable, discredited coalition with Labour, or if we were still sitting on the opposition benches.  

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