David Blackburn

Alexander’s no apologist

Alexander’s no apologist
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Nick Clegg opened last year’s Lib Dem conference with the promise of ‘savage cuts’. The party shuddered at the idea and they’re unnerved by the reality. Those savage cuts lour over what should have been a glorious conference for Clegg. Vince Cable stalks with insidious intent these days, so Clegg has called on Danny Alexander, of whom there is nothing of the Tory, to insulate him from internal criticism over economic policy. Alexander has given the Guardian a preview of his arguments.

He’s unapologetic: the coalition has achieved more in 13 weeks than Labour managed in 13 years. A sovereign debt crisis has been averted by swift action, but there is no point in leaving a job half-done where economic stability is concerned. But he also sees the importance of fairness. He has already ruled out tax cuts for the middle class and the coalition won’t stop there:

"If you look at what we've done from April 1, 900,000 low-paid workers will no longer pay income tax, a first step to a £10,000 tax-free threshold. There is a pay freeze where people who earn less than £21,000 will still get a pay rise.

"We've increased capital gains tax. We have reintroduced the earnings link for pensions. Labour had 13 years to do this and we have done this in 13 weeks. So I am not going to take any lecture on fairness from Labour."

Reducing the £42bn lost through tax avoidance is Alexander’s next priority, and will, along with Clegg’s launch of the ‘yes’ to electoral reform campaign, be the centre piece of this Lib Dem conference.