Alexander faces tough task as he is named new Chief Secretary

He has already had an election, a birthday, a new baby and a promotion to the Cabinet this month, but things are showing no signs of slowing down.

Danny Alexander had taken some delayed paternity leave last week, after the birth of his second daughter eight days ago. But, last night, his domestic duties were rudely interrupted by the news that he was being thrust into the engine room of the Government's campaign to slash the national debt.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey was a virtual unknown outside his own party before the election, but in a few short weeks he has emerged as one of the driving forces behind the creation of the coalition government – and now a central figure in its most important task.

As Nick Clegg's chief of staff, he was a key member of the Lib Dem team negotiating the terms of the coalition deal; when he was originally rewarded with the post of Secretary of State for Scotland, it was universally deemed an appropriate position for someone of his limited experience and seniority. And he was Scottish, to boot.

Red-haired Mr Alexander arrived in Parliament in 2001, after winning his first-ever election. But he already had a long record of political service, having joined the Lib Dems in 1993, and subsequently worked as a party press officer in Scotland and as an aide to the Scottish Lib Dem leader Jim Wallace during the 1997 election. He has also worked as a PR man for the European Movement and Britain in Europe, and then, in a move back home, for the Cairngorms National Park.

Once in Parliament, he did not make an immediate impact – in fact, he first came to public notice when it emerged that his election campaign had benefited from a £2,500 donation from a friend, the industrialist Chris Haskins. Lord Haskins, it was subsequently pointed out, was a Labour peer, and was later expelled from the party for funding an opponent's campaign.

Mr Alexander quickly made it on to the Lib Dem front bench, and within two years he was part of the core Lib Dem team, ultimately becoming the work and pensions spokesman, at the right hand of the new leader.

Notoriously, he was with Mr Clegg on a plane to London when the leader criticised Steve Webb and Chris Huhne, other members of the Lib Dem team – and suggested that David Laws was not enjoying his education brief. "The Tories have left him no space," Mr Clegg apparently told Mr Alexander. "But he's got a forensic intelligence; he's probably the best brain we have."

Mr Alexander will now attempt to replace his party's best brain as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, but without the fiscal reputation of his predecessor. And, as a concerned Tory pointed out last night: his economic expertise amounts to a third of the degree in philosophy, politics and economics he took from Oxford in 1993.

Mr Alexander's wife, Rebecca, gave birth to their daughter Isla last Saturday. They already have one daughter, Isabel. He turned 38 soon after he was promoted to the Cabinet earlier this month. But he's unlikely to be celebrating much any time soon.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Business Development Director - Interior Design

£80000 - £100000 per annum + competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits