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About Danny Alexander’s Dead Body

Posted on the 06 February 2014 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

About Danny Alexander’s Dead Body

Posted: 06/02/2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: 45p, Coalition, Conservatives, Danny Alexander, Labour, Liberal Democrats, news, Politics, social liberals, spending cuts, taxation, The Economy |Leave a comment »

When press stories circulated a few days ago that many Liberal Democrats had become worried about Danny Alexander going “Treasury native”, it made the Chief Secretary to the Treasury panic. Alexander has been the Lib Dems’ voice in the Treasury, and the Chancellor’s number two, since the third week of the Coalition Government. After colluding in four blood-soaked (metaphorically!) Budgets, it finally occured to the Lib Dems that Alexander is just a little too ready and willing to wield the axe on public services. Certainly, there is very little evidence of the caring liberalism that brought us the state pension and public libraries in the harsh spending policy of this Government.

Aware of the risk of falling out with his party, Alexander tried to reassert his progressive credentials. He rushed out an undertaking that Conservative demands to cut the top rate of Income Tax again- this time from 45p to 40p- would only pass “over [his] dead body”. He knows full well that this is a non-pledge: the Conservatives will not risk unpopularity by giving further tax breaks to their rich friends in the run-up to the 2015 election. By the time the election has taken place, and in the unlikely event that the Lib Dems enter a second coalition with the Conservatives, Alexander will have another Cabinet post- few junior and mid-tier Cabinet ministers keep the same post for more than one term.

It also shows where Alexander’s priorities lie. I favour redistributive taxation, but high taxes on the rich have to be a means unto an end. The Labour movement learned that to its cost a generation ago. What’s the point of defending the 45p tax band when you’re allowing spending cuts that make young people homeless or deny the disabled benefit? To be fair, Alexander would be preventing a £1.5 billion tax cut, but it’s not as if the Conservatives wouldn’t impose a tax cut elsewhere, perhaps in Inheritance Tax.

I don’t know if the Lib Dem grassroots share my analysis, so I’d advise the party that Alexander’s show of independence is unconvincing. If he fought the Lib Dems’ corner on spending cuts more strongly, then he’d be able to claim that he’s not the Treasury poodle that most of us think he is.

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