Posts Tagged ‘Danny Alexander’

The Lib Dems and their dissociative disorder

26/03/2012, 07:30:10 AM

by Kevin Meagher

Making a diagnosis for multiple personality disorder (MPD) requires the presence of two or more distinct identities which recurrently take control of a person’s behaviour.

Two competing, contradictory personalities vying for supremacy? Now I am no psychiatrist, but if organisations could develop the condition, then the Liberal Democrats are surely a classic case?

Take Simon Hughes. He is the personality who dominates the airwaves when the Lib Dems have done something bad. Every time they sell their soul to the Conservatives up pops Simon, combining earnestness and convoluted circumlocutions to explain away why they have not done what the dogs in the street can see they have done.

He is like a bank robber pleading in mitigation that the gang were only interested in notes and at least had the decency to leave the loose change alone. They may have waved the sawn-off shotgun in the bank teller’s face, but they didn’t actually pull the trigger. He is a splitter of hairs so fine that it would require the Hubble telescope to be trained on his logic in order to make out the nuances.

He was out there on Wednesday and Thursday, distancing himself from the decision to scrap the 50p top tax rate – the signature proposal in the budget – and one to which the entire cabinet is actively signed-up. “The chancellor took a view that he wanted to do things that mattered a lot to Conservatives” the deputy leader of the Lib Dems told Radio Five Live. “What mattered to us [the Lib Dems] was not that at all.”


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Monday News Review

25/07/2011, 06:57:59 AM

Gunman’s EDL links

Supporters of the English Defence League have blamed the Norwegian government’s immigration policies for the attacks that killed at least 93 people, provoking outcry from anti-fascist campaigners who are calling for the EDL to be classified as an extremist group. The comments come amid increased scrutiny of links between the man arrested for the attacks, Anders Behring Breivik, and the EDL. Since the attacks, campaigners have called for the EDL to be formally classified by the government as a far-right organisation, rather than a legitimate political entity. Nick Lowles, director of anti-extremist campaign group Hope Not Hate, said yesterday that the decision not to classify the EDL as an extremist right-wing group “severely limits the capacity of the police to gather intelligence on the EDL, its members and its activities”. The Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has said Norwegian officials are working with foreign intelligence agencies to see if there was any international involvement in the attacks. – the Independent

Anders Behring Breivik, the man behind the Norway killings that left 93 people dead, began his journey in extremist rightwing politics at a small meeting in London in 2002, according to his online manifesto, and may have attended a far right demonstration in the UK as recently as last year. In a 1,467-page document that contains chilling details of his preparations for Friday’s attacks, Breivik outlines his UK links, claiming he met eight other extremists from across Europe in London in 2002 to “re-form” the Knights Templar Europe – a group whose purpose was “to seize political and military control of western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda”. The manifesto, signed “Andrew Berwick London 2011”, contains repeated references to his links to the UK far right group the English Defence League. On Sunday there were unconfirmed reports from one of the organisation’s supporters that the 32-year-old had attended at least one EDL demonstration in the UK in 2010. – the Guardian

Lansley’s letter

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has privately attacked the Government’s public-sector pension reforms in a letter to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury which has been leaked to The Daily Telegraph. Mr Lansley warns that the reforms outlined last month will not meet the Coalition’s “commitment to maintain gold standard pensions”. He says the proposals are set to prompt public sector workers to stop contributing to their pensions which “would increase pressure on the social security budget” as people rely on state benefits to fund their retirement. The Health Secretary describes parts of the reform proposals as “inappropriate” and “unrealistic” and warns they will hit women health workers particularly hard. The emergence of a Cabinet rift over one of the most toxic areas of Government policy is likely to alarm David Cameron, who is facing national strikes over the issue in the autumn. It had previously been thought that Conservative ministers were wholly supportive of the plans. – Daily Telegraph

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has privately attacked his own Government’s controversial shake-up of public sector pensions, it emerged last night. In a letter to Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander, he appears to side with NHS staff rather than with his own Cabinet – describing elements of the reforms as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘unrealistic’. Mr Lansley’s views are likely to be seized on by unions, who have threatened national strikes over the controversial issue in the autumn. Previously Tory ministers were thought to be supportive of the plans. Under the reforms outlined by Liberal Democrat Mr Alexander last month, public sector workers will retire later, contribute more to pensions, and receive payouts based on average career earnings, rather than final salary. But in his letter, Mr Lansley said planned reforms would see more NHS workers opting out of the pension scheme – meaning they would be forced to rely on state pensions; costing the Treasury more. And he warned of a damaging wave of strike action in the Health Service, if the unions are ‘pushed too hard’. – Daily Mail

Too far, too fast

Fresh doubts over the efficacy of the Government’s economic medicine are expected be raised tomorrow after another gloomy set of figures underline Britain’s frail recovery. Labour is preparing to seize on the gross domestic product (GDP) figures as evidence that the Chancellor, George Osborne, has killed the recovery by cutting “too far, too fast” – notably by raising VAT to 20 per cent in January. Further evidence of a faltering economy emerged in a ComRes survey of 165 business leaders for The Independent. Asked about growth in their own sector, 26 per cent said it was decreasing, only 22 per cent that it was increasing while 47 per cent said it was staying the same and 5 per cent replied “don’t know”. Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, blamed the predicted poor figures on decisions taken at home rather than abroad. “We are making the mistake, even though we don’t have to, of undermining growth,” he said. “We’ve got the fastest cuts in any country other than Greece in all the world, and the fact is it’s not working.” – the Independent

Ed’s hacking bounce

Ed Miliband continues to profit from his decision to lead the charge against News International. The latest YouGov/Sunday Times poll shows that the Labour leader’s net approval rating is now higher than David Cameron’s for the first time since last September. Miliband’s rating is now -15, up from -21 a week ago and from -34 three weeks ago (before the Milly Dowler story broke), while Cameron’s is -16, down from -12 a week ago. Nick Clegg’s approval rating is unchanged at -42. However, it’s important to note, as UK Polling Report’s Anthony Wells does, that this simply means people think Miliband is doing a better job as Labour leader, not that he’d make a better prime minister than Cameron. A YouGov poll earlier this week gave Cameron a nine point lead over Miliband as the best PM. But, one hastens to add, this is the lowest lead recorded to date. Miliband has grown significantly in the eyes of the public over the last two weeks. Given that personal approval ratings are often a better long-term indicator of the next election result than voting intentions, this is encouraging for Labour. The party frequently led the Tories under Neil Kinnock, for instance, but Kinnock was never rated above John Major as a potential prime minister. – New Statesman

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Friday News Review

17/06/2011, 06:55:05 AM

Pension decision due

Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, tells millions of trade union members that only by agreeing to the Coalition’s new terms will they be able to keep “the best pensions available”. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he warns that opposition to the change – that will require many in the public sector to work longer and pay more into their retirement funds – will mean a worse deal in future. “The history of reform is littered with examples of people simply denying the facts,” he writes. “Eventually reality bites. And when it does, change is urgent and uncompromising.” The Government’s offer, he says, is “by far the best that is likely to be on the table for years to come”. It will still leave them with retirement deals that are more generous and more certain than most in the private sector, he says. – Daily Telegraph

The government is to spare the lowest paid public servants from the worst of the increases in their pension contributions in a rush to avoid a mass opt-out. But the decision to protect people earning up to £18,000 from the average increase of 3.2% of their salary, made after warnings that the pension reforms could price some people out of saving for their future altogether, will mean the higher paid will pay up to 5% more. Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, will set out details of the plans to increase 6 million public sector workers’ pension payments, and will attack union leaders who have announced a joint strike on 30 June. Alexander will announce that workers earning less than £15,000 will be spared any increase and those earning less than £18,000 will have their contributions capped at 1.5%. The increases will be phased in over three years from next April to lessen the blow. Teachers, medics and local government managers could face a doubling in their contributions from next April. – the Guardian

The Falklands is an issue again

The Argentinian president has criticised David Cameron for insisting the Falkland Islands should remain a British territory. Cristina Kirchner described the prime minister as “arrogant” and said his comments were an “expression of mediocrity and almost of stupidity”. Cameron had been prompted by Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell during prime minister’s questions to remind Barack Obama that the British government would not accept any kind of negotiations over the south Atlantic islands, which Argentina and Britain fought a 10-week war over in 1982. Cameron told the Commons: “I would say this: as long as the Falkland Islands want to be sovereign British territory, they should remain sovereign British territory – full stop, end of story.” In her criticism of his comments, Kirchner said that Britain “continues to be a crude colonial power in decline”. She has insisted that the two countries should negotiate over the islands, which have been a British territory since 1833. The 1982 conflict cost the lives of 649 Argentinian and 255 British troops. – the Guardian

Clegg in electoral scrap

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg Thursday shrugged off the drubbing his party has received since joining the Conservatives in government, and said the British tradition of two-party politics was over. The Lib Dems have been battered by accusations they have compromised their principles to join the Conservatives in power after last year’s general election, and Clegg in particular has seen his star plummet in opinion polls. The deputy prime minister has been excoriated for going back on his election pledge to abolish university tuition fees, one of several compromises he says were necessary to achieve the coalition’s aim of eliminating Britain’s budget deficit. The coalition has made eliminating the deficit, which had topped 10 percent of national output, by the end of the current of the current parliament in 2015 a key pledge, and Clegg said his party would be rewarded in future. – Reuters

Many angry ex-Liberal Democrat voters in the North will not return to supporting the party, Mr Clegg admitted. The deputy prime minister acknowledged that some voters were so disillusioned – over the decision to enter coalition with the Conservatives – that his party had lost them for good. That collapse in support has been most severe in Northern areas such as Liverpool, where lingering anti-Tory sentiment is most common. But Mr Clegg insisted his party would still be a fighting force at the 2015 election, vowing: “I think we are going to have to get used to coalition.” He said: “Of course some people who used to vote for us absolutely hate the fact that we are in coalition with the Conservatives. As, by the way, if we had gone into coalition with Labour, a whole lot of people who had voted for us would absolutely hate that we had gone into coalition with Labour. “Of course. these people have peeled away – and many of them might not come back.” However, Mr Clegg said he was “relishing” the chance to present his party as one that had helped rescue Britain from economic disaster. – Liverpool Daily Post

Brothers partying together, whatever next…

The nation’s most visible sibling rivalry drifted into public view when Ed and David Miliband were seen together at a party. The brothers joined guests at a pub in Pimlico, central London, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. They have rarely been seen together since Ed unexpectedly pipped his older brother to the Labour party’s top job last year. Their joint appearance seemed designed to scotch rumours that David might try to oust his sibling, who has put in a poor political performance in recent weeks. A party source insisted the pair remained ‘brothers first and politicians second’. Speculation of a continuing rift between the brothers was fuelled at the weekend by claims in an unauthorised biography that the pair were barely on speaking terms. The rift allegations came amid reports of unrest among Labour MPs about Ed Miliband’s performance, which he has dismissed as ‘Westminster tittle tattle’. – Daily Mail

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John McTernan on Militant, muppets and the coalition budget

22/06/2010, 05:51:09 PM

Some commentators compare Danny Alexander to a missing member of the Sesame Street cast. While such disrespect may annoy and upset him, he’s lucky to be described in such cuddly terms. For when I listen to him and his Lib Dem colleagues, I hear echoes of something far worse and far more sinister – the Militant Tendency.

Admittedly there aren’t the hand gestures, but there is the absolute conviction of the convert to a totalising ideology. By which I mean an ideology that can offer an explanation for every woe. For Trotskyists, it’s capitalist monopolies that wreck lives; the solution: nationalisation. For the coalition, it’s debt; the solution – deep cuts in spending. (more…)

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John McTernan on Scottish reaction to Danny Alexander’s razor gang

03/06/2010, 04:51:47 PM

A cruel truth of politics is that it is not enough to succeed; truly to get ahead one’s friends must fail. The extraordinarily swift fall of David Laws has ended whatever honeymoon the coalition might have had, but has accelerated the rise of Danny Alexander. His talent combined with his closeness to Nick Clegg have marked Alexander for long-term success. He now has one of the highest offices of state, at the most testing of times and faces the most difficult challenge within his own party – the Scottish Question.

The frame for next year’s Scottish Parliamentary elections is being constructed at the moment. For the SNP it will be a return to the general election claim that “more Nats means less cuts”. An unlikely proposition last month, it will seem even less persuasive next year. The eurozone’s struggles, coming so soon after  Ireland’s retrenchment and austerity, give the lie to the notion that there is an easy bolt hole anywhere outside the UK. (more…)

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