Mr Alexander may have surprised some people with his statement. The surprise lay not so much in its content as in its delivery. Because of his looks (startled guinea pig) and voice (small boy playing third shepherd in the school Nativity), it’s easy to run away with the idea that Mr Alexander is a gentle, sweet-natured sort of creature. Not a bit of it. He is, in his own quiet way, as mischievously snide as the Chancellor.
He began by praising “Lord Hutton’s magisterial report” on pension reform, and added that the Government had followed the recommendations of “the former Labour Work and Pensions Secretary”. Those are, in both cases, Mr Alexander’s italics, slathered in irony as thick as treacle.