Sunday, June 06, 2010

Danny Alexander: Colonsay to the Treasury

Danny Alexander's sudden rise means that many among the wider public know little about him. To be honest, many of us in the Liberal Democrats who know little about him too.

Some interesting background come from (of all places) the Mail on Sunday, which tells us about his boyhood:

Born in Edinburgh in 1972, Mr Alexander moved to Colonsay at the age of two when his father Dion, known as Di, and mother Patricia chose to swap life in the Scottish capital for beaches and cliffs where seals and rare birds far outnumber people.

Twelve miles long and three miles wide, the island’s limited amenities have no need for specific names: ‘the shop’ and ‘the post office’ suffice.

The primary school has just ten pupils. The island has no dedicated pub but does have one bar, situated in the only hotel, The Colonsay.

Locals say the size of the community means there has never been demand for a pub.
Mr Alexander grew up in Colonsay with his sister Catriona and brother George – younger brother Robert had not yet arrived – living in a cottage yards from the harbour in the main settlement of Scalasaig.

Their mother cared for the children while their father made a living with his hands – becoming known as Di the potter – after setting up a small ceramics business in a shed, selling jugs and plates to locals and tourists.

Apologies for the thumping hanging participle in the second paragraph there.

Colonsay is the "Kiloran" of the Powell and Pressburger film I Know Where I'm Going. If you have a mind to visit it yourself, see the Isle of Colonsay website.

Mind you, it is possible to make too much of Danny Alexander's sudden promotion. As Bagehot in The Economist says:

It is easy to sneer at Mr Alexander’s service at Cairngorms National Parks; but he has actually had more extra-political experience than his boss, Mr Osborne, who, at 39, is only a year older. Many of their colleagues have only limited experience inside politics, let alone beyond it, having risen meteorically during the Tories’ last years of opposition.

In truth, this challenge would probably intimidate almost any Treasury team, however wily or accomplished, be they Gladstone and Disraeli or Mr Alexander and Mr Osborne. Those who say that Mr Alexander is peculiarly callow or ill-prepared are engaged in a kind of scapegoating displacement activity. No one is really ready. We are all Danny Alexander now.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

he has actually had more extra-political experience than his boss, Mr Osborne
Not saying an awful lot, is it? One fears that the Treasury ministerial team is going to be prisoner to the more experienced permanent staff. David Laws' continuing advice is going to be invaluable.