Alexander should learn to box clever

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It WOULD be difficult to imagine a more feckless political stunt than Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander waving a yellow “budget box” on the steps of the Treasury (your report, 20 March).

It looked a bit like the younger brother telling his friends: “You saw my big brother’s red box at the birthday party yesterday – well, here’s mine!”

It appears to have backfired to the extent that even Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg couldn’t bear to watch Mr Alexander’s later performance in the House of Commons – as pathetic a spectacle as is possible in politics.

Who on earth advised him that either the appearance at the dispatch box or the flaunting of the yellow box would be wise?

The correct place to highlight Liberal Democrat achievements in the Westminster coalition would have been the Scottish party’s conference this weekend in Aberdeen.

It is only fair to say that Danny Alexander’s coalition role has been more distinguished than the public relations disaster on Thursday would suggest.

Not least has been his determination to raise the threshold at which people pay tax to more than £10,000. The maintenance of the “triple lock” annual increase for state pensioners can be credibly lauded as a worthy Liberal Democrat achievement.

To those who argue that he has been compliant in an austerity programme that has been too harsh, he has had a credible answer. It is that laxity in control of public expenditure can lead to real market instability. That instability does not mainly affect the better off – it tends to punish the worse off. Thus the need to really tackle the structural deficit.

Perhaps desperation to hold on to his Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey seat led him to the “yellow box” prank.

It would be a pity if it destroyed his parliamentary ambitions completely.

BOB TAYLOR

Shiel Court

Glenrothes, Fife