Here’s a fascinating article by Nicholas Watt in the Guardian about the cuts process. It includes this quote from a “Liberal Democrat grandee” (presumably that can’t be Lord Razzall, can it?) saying:
Danny has gone completely native…He should be the Lib Dem man in the Treasury. But he has turned into the Treasury man in the Lib Dems. Perhaps Danny could look slightly less pleased with himself and wipe that smile off his face. He should not look so pleased when he is imposing such serious cuts.
So Alexander’s offence seems to be smiling. And, in fairness to him, later on in the article it says:
Danny Alexander succeeded on another front yesterday when he blocked plans by the Work and Pensions Department to cut emergency cold weather payments to the needy from £25 to £8.50 a week.
-which seems very significant to me
The article outlines an interesting strategic challenge nuance for the LibDems:
But the Lib Dem tactic over the past 48 hours – highlighting gains – raises questions about whether the party can sustain Clegg’s main strategy during the spending review. This is to “own” the whole process.One senior Lib Dem explains the approach. “We have to own the central proposition which means we have to own the cuts,” the Lib Dem says of the strategy which explains why Alexander is now regarded with such suspicion in his party.
“If we just said we are responsible for the nice bits and the Tories are responsible for the horrid bits then that would feed the idea that this is a Conservative government with a few Lib Dems thrown in.
“If we take the shit when things are bad over the next few years then we will be able to claim some of the credit when the economy picks up. This is a change from where we were in the summer at around the time of the emergency budget. Now Nick says we need to show the coalition is a blend.”