‘Why we had to battle the deficit’

By Michael Burton | 10 November 2015

Not a lot of people know this but Danny Alexander was the second longest-serving Treasury chief secretary since the post was established – the first being Labour’s Joel Barnett, inventor of the famous, or infamous, Barnett formula. For five years Danny Alexander, a Liberal Democrat MP for a Scottish seat since 2005, was at the centre of the coalition’s austerity programme in charge of the public finances and one of the ‘Quad’ along with David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg. In May 2015 his political career came to an abrupt halt when he lost his parliamentary seat to the SNP while his party lost their role in government. Knighted in the summer, though rejecting a peerage, he is now involved in a project helping the lower-paid.

This month’s Autumn Statement will be the first in five years not to involve him. He looks back with some fondness on his days at the Treasury and, unlike some ministers, declines to rubbish the civil service. ‘The Treasury is like a sports car,’ he says in an exclusive interview with The MJ. ‘But you just need to point it in the right direction. Civil servants are mostly bright and talented and I’m definitely a defender of an independent civil service.’

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