Danny Alexander

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Danny Alexander
Danny alexander hi.jpg
Alexander in 2011
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
In office
29 May 2010 – 8 May 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byDavid Laws
Succeeded byGreg Hands
Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
12 May 2010 – 29 May 2010
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byJim Murphy
Succeeded byMichael Moore
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson
In office
7 January 2015 – 11 May 2015
LeaderNick Clegg
Preceded byVince Cable (2010)[a]
Succeeded byBaroness Kramer
Member of Parliament
for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey
In office
5 May 2005 – 30 March 2015
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byDrew Hendry
Personal details
Born (1972-05-15) 15 May 1972 (age 50)
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Political partyScottish Liberal Democrats
Rebecca Hoar
(m. 2005)
Alma materSt Anne's College, Oxford
a. ^ Office vacant from 12 May 2010 to 7 January 2015.

Sir Daniel Grian Alexander (born 15 May 1972) is a former politician who was Chief Secretary to the Treasury between 2010 and 2015. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey constituency from 2005 until the general election in May 2015.[1] In his first parliamentary term (2005–2010), Alexander was the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Work and Pensions (2007–2008), the Chief of Staff to party leader Nick Clegg, and Chair of the Liberal Democrat Manifesto Group (2007–2010).[2]

With the 2010 general election producing a hung parliament, he was one of the four Liberal Democrat MPs, along with Andrew Stunell, Chris Huhne, and David Laws,[3] who were involved in negotiating the coalition agreement for the new coalition government with the Conservative Party. Alexander was initially appointed Secretary of State for Scotland,[4] but at the end of May 2010, he was promoted to Chief Secretary to the Treasury, following the resignation of David Laws.[5]

He was knighted in the 2015 Dissolution Honours Lists on 27 August 2015.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Alexander was born in Edinburgh. As a child he lived on the island of Colonsay where his father was a firefighter, potter and deputy pier master. He attended Colonsay Primary School. The family then moved briefly to South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, and next to Invergarry on the mainland, where he attended Invergarry Primary School.

He was then educated at Lochaber High School, Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. He went on to read Philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at St Anne's College, Oxford.[7]

Early career[edit]

From 1993 to 1994, Alexander worked as a press officer with the Scottish Liberal Democrats, before spending eight years as the Director of communications at the European Movement (1996–1999) and its successor organisation, the Britain in Europe campaign (1999–2004). From 2004 to 2005, he was the head of communications for Cairngorms National Park,[8] considered by some critics as being his "biggest job outside of politics".[9]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Alexander was elected to the newly formed constituency of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey in the 2005 UK general election. He won the seat from David Stewart, who was previously the Labour MP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, the basis of the new constituency.[citation needed]

In August 2005, it was revealed that Christopher Haskins, a Labour peer who was a friend of Alexander, had donated £2,500 to Alexander's campaign; subsequently Haskins was expelled from the Labour party for this action.[10]

Front bench spokesman[edit]

At the start of the new parliament in 2005, Alexander was appointed by party leader Charles Kennedy as a junior spokesman for Work and Pensions, responsible for disability issues, where he contributed to debates on incapacity Benefit reform, the Child Support Agency and the Turner Report on future pension provision in the United Kingdom. From 2005 to 2008, he was also a member of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee.[citation needed]

In 2007, he was appointed as Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Social Exclusion for six months, before becoming the party's spokesperson for Work and Pensions, holding the post until June 2008. He gave this post up to focus on his role as chief of staff to the new party leader, Nick Clegg, as well as his responsibility for leading the preparation of the party's election manifesto.[11]

Chief of staff to Nick Clegg[edit]

In June 2008, Alexander gave up the Work and Pensions brief to become Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg.[12] As part of his role Alexander became the main author of the 2010 Liberal Democrat general election manifesto and became a confidant of the leader.[13] After the election Alexander became one to the key negotiators in the coalition discussions with the Conservatives and played a key role in the negotiating of the Coalition agreement alongside Oliver Letwin.[14]

Coalition Government[edit]

Following the 2010 general election, Alexander was part of the Liberal Democrats key negotiating team alongside Chris Huhne, David Laws and Andrew Stunell that brokered the agreement to go into a governing coalition with the Conservatives.[15] He was initially appointed Secretary of State for Scotland for the coalition government, then was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury after the resignation of David Laws on 29 May 2010.[5] He was appointed as a Privy Counsellor on 13 May 2010.[16]

Secretary of State for Scotland[edit]

Following the negotiations between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, Alexander was appointed to the cabinet as the Secretary of State for Scotland making him one of five Liberal Democrats to serve in the Cameron–Clegg coalition.[17]

As part of his role Alexander was given responsibility to implement the recommendations of the Calman Commission which was to give more fiscal powers to the Scottish Parliament, the promise to implement the proposals had formed part of the coalition agreement.[18] See also: Scotland Act 2012

In his first official visit to Scotland in his new capacity Alexander was accompanied by the Prime Minister David Cameron for a series of meetings with the First Minister Alex Salmond. Cameron called for a fresh start in relations between the parliaments in Westminster and Holyrood and committed to appearing every year to answer questions at the Scottish Parliament.[citation needed]

Alexander's tenure as Scottish Secretary was short lived, and just over two weeks from his appointment on 29 May 2010 he was promoted to the role of Chief Secretary to the Treasury following the resignation of David Laws. Michael Moore, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, replaced Alexander as Secretary of State for Scotland.[19]

Chief Secretary to the Treasury[edit]

The move to the Treasury and the effective number two position to chancellor George Osborne marked his second cabinet post in under a month. The role effectively put Alexander in charge of the government's deficit reduction plan.

Capital gains tax controversy[edit]

Two days after being appointed to his new position, the Daily Telegraph newspaper published front-page allegations that Alexander had exploited a legal loophole to avoid the payment of capital gains tax on a property he had sold in 2007 alleging that he had profited from a "morally dubious" loophole to avoid paying capital gains tax. A few days earlier, the same newspaper had caused the resignation of Alexander's predecessor David Laws after finding irregularities in his expenses claims. The paper suggested that "the fact that Mr Alexander has become the second Lib Dem to face questions about his finances within three days has focused attention on whether the party leadership has properly audited the financial activities of its senior figures".[20]

Alexander had bought the property, a London flat, in 1999 and, after being elected to parliament for a Scottish constituency in 2005, designated the property as his "second home" while claiming that his first home was now in his constituency. The property was then sold in 2007 for a profit on which he paid no capital gains tax.[21]

As the property was the only one he owned, up until 2006, HM Revenue and Customs rules meant that capital gains tax was not payable as should someone find a buyer for their home within three years the property qualifies for relief from [capital gains tax] as long as the property has been the only or main home at some point. Speaking at the time Alexander said "I have always listed London as my second home on the basis set out in the parliamentary rules as I spent more time in Scotland than I did in London."[22] The Daily Telegraph stated "there is no suggestion that Mr Alexander has actually broken any tax laws".[23]

2010 Spending Review[edit]

Alexander speaking to Sky News in 2010

On 8 June 2010 Alexander and the Chancellor George Osborne announced details of how they would conduct the government's spending review which would set spending limits for every government department for the period from 2011–12 up until 2014–15. As part of the review due to be announced on 20 October 2010 a star chamber was established chaired by Osborne and Alexander designed to scrutinise the spending plans of each government department.[24] Shortly after the announcement of how the review would take place, Alexander announced on 17 June 2010 that £2billion worth of projects agreed by the previous Labour government would be cancelled. The projects included an £80million loan to Sheffield Forgemasters and the cancellation of a £25million visitors centre at Stonehenge. Labour attacked the plans as an "attack on jobs" but Alexander countered by saying that the previous government had gone on a "pre-election spending spree in the full knowledge that the government had long since run out of money."[25]

Following the announcement on the cancellation of projects, Alexander worked closely with the Chancellor George Osborne to produce an emergency budget on 22 June 2010 which announced a series of measures designed to reduce the United Kingdom's budget deficit. Measures included a rise in the rate of VAT from 17.5% to 20% starting in 2011, a rise in Capital gains tax from 18% to 28% and the introduction of a levy on the banks designed to raise £2 billion a year.[26] Defending the budget against allegations that it disproportionately hit the poor hardest, Alexander described it as "fair" and "progressive" saying "this is a Budget that protects the most vulnerable – especially children in poverty and pensioners – while ensuring those with the broadest shoulders take the greatest share of the burden.".[27]

Following the budget, and in the period until the spending review, Alexander found himself at the heart of controversial spending decisions made by the government. A series of leaked letters from cabinet ministers showed that the spending review was causing strain within government departments including within the Department for Work and Pensions when a memo from Osborne to Iain Duncan Smith suggested that deep cuts to the welfare budget had already been agreed, prompting accusations by Labour that the cuts were "vicious" and an attack on the poorest in society. In response Alexander said "I am not going to comment on a leaked letter but what I will say is that with welfare spending making up nearly £200 billion, of course it is something we have to look at in the context of the spending review."[28]

Further controversy came when the Treasury announced that the Ministry of Defence would have to include the £20 billion replacement of Trident within their budget on top of potential cuts of potentially up to 10 and 20%.[29] Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox later wrote to David Cameron in another leaked letter saying that cuts in defence spending would seriously damage troops' morale.[30] Kenneth Clarke, the Secretary of State for Justice, said that he was "relishing" life back at the centre of government and said that the discussions on the spending review he had with Danny Alexander were "rather informal but quite intense and serious."[31]

On 19 October 2010, the day before the spending review was announced in the House of Commons, Alexander was photographed reading a memo which showed that as a result of the cuts the government would be announcing up to 490,000 public service jobs could be lost. The figure contained within confidential briefing papers came from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).[32]

On 20 October 2010, the chancellor George Osborne announced the findings of the review which included the claim from the OBR. Other key points from the review included an average 19% cut in departmental budgets, the desire to eliminate the structural deficit by 2015, £7bn extra in cuts to welfare spending and a move for the retirement age to be increased to 66 for both men and women by 2020.[33] In a letter to Liberal Democrat members Alexander defended the cuts by saying "When we came into office, we inherited an economy that was on the brink. With the largest budget deficit in Europe and no plan for tackling it, Britain faced huge economic risks. These could only be dealt with by a clear plan to deal rapidly with the worst financial position this country has faced for generations."

Despite the scale of the cuts announced Alexander, in his letter, went on to claim that the burden had been spread fairly by ensuring that key public services relied on by the most vulnerable in society had been protected. He emphasised the announcement of the 'fairness premium' designed to help the poorest children and noted that key transport projects had been given the go ahead as well as the announcement of a green investment bank.[34]

Bank lobbying[edit]

It was reported in the Independent in December 2011 that Danny Alexander had been involved in meetings[35] with bankers lobbying to avoid proposals in the Vickers Report[36] that were intended to reduce risks in the banking industry. The talks were alleged to be secret, but were obtained via a Freedom of Information request.

North Sea oil windfall tax[edit]

Alexander caused controversy after giving a speech to a group of businessmen that a £10 billion windfall tax on North Sea oil revenue in the 2011 budget was his idea.[37] The move has been estimated to cost up to 40,000 jobs.[38]

Trident nuclear review[edit]

On 22 September 2012, Danny Alexander was appointed by Nick Clegg to review alternatives to like-for-like replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system, after Minister of State for the Armed Forces Nick Harvey left the government in David Cameron's government reshuffle.[39]

Allegations of "pork-barrel politics" ahead of the 2015 general election[edit]

In January 2015, Nick Clegg was accused of a "desperate ploy" to save Alexander's seat from the SNP by offering the possibility of completing a city deal for Inverness just ahead of the 2015 general election. Highland council had been lobbying for a deal worth up to £300 million to improve tourist and sports facilities.[40]

"Yellow budget"[edit]

The day after approving the last budget of the Coalition as set out by George Osborne, Alexander took the unprecedented step of issuing an alternative fiscal plan for the next Parliament based on Liberal Democrat policy.[41][42] In a sparsely attended Commons session Alexander announced plans to borrow £70 billion less than Labour and cut £50 billion less than the Conservatives in the next parliament. He was barracked by Labour MPs throughout, who repeatedly alluded to the Red Book containing the official budget unveiled the day before.[42]

After politics[edit]

In the 2015 general election, with 31.3% of the vote, Alexander lost his seat to the Scottish National Party's Drew Hendry, who garnered 50.1%. He was offered a position in the House of Lords but declined. [43] He later became vice president for policy and strategy at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.[44][45]

Personal life[edit]

Alexander married Rebecca Hoar in July 2005 in Chippenham. They have two children.[citation needed]

In October 2010, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman mentioned Alexander during her speech at the Labour Party's Scottish Conference, referring to his red hair. She said, "Now, many of us in the Labour Party are conservationists and we all love the red squirrel. But there is one ginger rodent which we never want to see again in the Highlands – Danny Alexander." The speech generated controversial media attention and Alexander responded stating he was "proud" of his hair colour. Harman later apologised, admitting her conduct was "wrong".[46][47]

In November 2012 the Cairngorm Brewery rebranded their beer called "Cairngorm Gold" as "Ginger Rodent" with Alexander's agreement and cooperation. This same beer is also exported to Australia where it is called "Sheepshaggers Gold".[citation needed] The brewery is located in his former constituency.[48]

Alexander has been nicknamed "Beaker" due to his resemblance to The Muppet Show character.[49][50]

Alexander is a self described heavy metal fan.[51]


  1. ^ "Election results: Lib Dem Danny Alexander loses to SNP - BBC News". Bbc.co.uk. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  2. ^ "The Rt Hon Danny Alexander". GOV.UK. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  3. ^ Laws, David (2016). Coalition: The Inside Story of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government. Biteback Publishing Ltd. p. 4. ISBN 9781849549660.
  4. ^ Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander to be new Scottish secretary BBC News, 12 May 2010
  5. ^ a b Treasury Minister David Laws resigns over expenses BBC News, 29 May 2010
  6. ^ "Dissolution Honours 2015". gov.uk (Press release). 27 August 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  7. ^ Dinwoodie, Robin (31 May 2010) "The boy from Colonsay takes on critical job at Treasury", The Herald; accessed 11 February 2016.
  8. ^ Maitland, Jonathan (21 September 2010). "Radio 4 Profile: Danny Alexander". BBC News. Archived from the original on 28 June 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  9. ^ Stacey, Kiran (23 April 2015). "Danny Alexander: the 'ludicrously optimistic' battler". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 28 September 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Labour peer expelled from party for improper donation". BBC News. 23 September 2005. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  11. ^ "BBC News - Lib Dem manifesto 'to the point'". bbc.co.uk.
  12. ^ "Danny Alexander bio". Scotlibdems.org.uk. 5 December 2009. Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  13. ^ Pavia, Will. "Backroom boys and girls behind Nick Clegg's rapid rise to power". The Times.
  14. ^ Savage, Michael (31 May 2010). "Straight laced loyalist who played a key role in coalition negotiations". London: Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  15. ^ Haroon Siddique, Profiles: The Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour negotiators, The Guardian, 11 May 2010
  16. ^ "Privy Council appointments, 13 May 2010". Privy Council. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  17. ^ "Lib Dem Danny Alexander to be Scottish Secretary". BBC News. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  18. ^ Johnson, Simon (13 May 2010). "Cameron and Clegg to give new tax raising powers to Scotland". London: The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 16 May 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  19. ^ Brian Taylor Political editor, BBC Scotland (30 May 2010). "Moore named new Scottish Secretary". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 20 October 2010. {{cite news}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  20. ^ Swaine, Jon; Watt, Holly (30 May 2010). "Danny Alexander, new Treasury chief, avoided capital gains tax on house". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK.
  21. ^ Taylor, Matthew; Wintour, Patrick (30 May 2010). "Danny Alexander in spotlight over tax loophole". The Guardian. London, UK.
  22. ^ "Treasury chief Danny Alexander 'paid home sale taxes'". BBC News. 31 May 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  23. ^ Swaine, Jon (30 May 2010). "Danny Alexander avoided paying capital gains tax on house". London, UK: The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  24. ^ "Spending Review 2010". Hm-treasury.gov.uk. 8 June 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  25. ^ "Coalition government axes £2bn of projects". Bbc.co.uk. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  26. ^ Larry Elliott; Patrick Wintour (22 June 2010). "VAT austerity plan". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  27. ^ Howarth, Angus (7 July 2010). "Alexander denies emergency budget hits vulnerable hardest". Edinburgh, UK: News.scotsman.com. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  28. ^ Mark Smith, Toby Helm, and agencies (12 September 2010). "Welfare budget cuts defended by Danny Alexander". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 20 October 2010.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ "Trident costs must come from MOD". Bbc.co.uk. 30 July 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  30. ^ "Defence cuts – Liam Fox's leaked letter in full". London, UK: The Telegraph. 28 September 2010. Archived from the original on 1 October 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  31. ^ Helm, Toby; Asthana, Anushka (2 October 2010). "Ken Clarke interview". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  32. ^ Winnett, Robert; Porter, Andrew (19 October 2010). "Alexander reveals extent of cuts in document gaffe". London, UK: The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 21 October 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  33. ^ "BBC News | key points of the spending review at a glance". Bbc.co.uk. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  34. ^ "Liberal Democrat Voice | Letter to members – we have done the right thing". Libdemvoice.org. 21 October 2010. Archived from the original on 29 October 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  35. ^ Chu, Ben (16 December 2011). "Revealed: bankers' secret meetings with ministers". The Independent. London.
  36. ^ Boone, Peter; Johnson, Simon (11 April 2011). "Vickers' banking report not enough to reduce risks to us all in global banking". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  37. ^ Maddox, David (30 March 2011). "Alexander urged to resign after boasting oil tax grab was his idea". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.
  38. ^ Davidson, Ross (25 March 2011). "'Hypocritical chancellor could cost North Sea 40,000 jobs'". www.pressandjournal.co.uk. Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  39. ^ "Lib Dem's Danny Alexander to lead Trident nuclear review". BBC News. 22 September 2012.
  40. ^ Simon Johnson (29 January 2015). "Nick Clegg accused of £300 million 'ploy' to save Danny Alexander". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  41. ^ Wintour, Patrick (19 March 2015). "The budget yellow box: Lib Dems lay out alternative fiscal plan in Commons". Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  42. ^ a b Dathan, Matt (19 March 2015). "Budget 2015: Even Lib Dems didn't care about Danny Alexander's alternative 'Yellow Budget'". Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  43. ^ Wintour, Patrick (15 May 2015). "Vince Cable among four senior Lib Dems to turn down Lords offer from Clegg". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  44. ^ "AIIB Senior Management", Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, 23 November 2016
  45. ^ Parker, George (5 February 2016). "Danny Alexander: I am right man for AIIB". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2 May 2017.
  46. ^ Kite, Melissa (30 October 2010). "Harriet Harman rebuked for calling minister 'a ginger rodent'". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. Archived from the original on 1 November 2010.
  47. ^ "Harman apologises over Alexander 'ginger rodent' jibe". Herald Scotland.
  48. ^ "Danny Alexander launches Ginger Rodent beer". BBC News. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  49. ^ Blackhurst, Chris (2 June 2010). "Danny Alexander must remain canny under the City's fierce glare". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 8 June 2010.
  50. ^ Chorley, Matt (18 September 2011). "Danny Alexander: Somewhere in the middle, and out in front". The Independent. Archived from the original on 26 September 2011.
  51. ^ Ewing, Sarah (12 September 2014). "Danny Alexander: 'Scottish independence would be a nightmare for five million Scots'". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Secretary of State for Scotland
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by