It is hard to imagine that Alexander, who has no proper grounding in finance or economics, will be as competent a chief secretary as Laws was shaping up to be. But his new role will also mean that he won’t have sufficient time to devote t his crucial role as the Lib Dem charged with dealing with policy differences before they arise.
There’s also a question of trust. In every conversation I have had with senior Tories since the Coalition negotiations started, Laws and Alexander have popped up as the Lib Dems--apart from Clegg—who have most impressed them and who they trust most. There is still suspicion of Cable because of ideological differences and Huhne because of the perception that he is a politician with too much of any eye for the main chance.