Budget 2015: Even Lib Dems didn’t care about Danny Alexander's alternative 'Yellow Budget'

Fewer than 20 of the party's 57 MPs bothered to turn up to back their Chief Secretary's 'better' budget

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Indy Politics

It was supposed to be a chance for the Liberal Democrats to present their own spending plans for the next Parliament.

But instead it turned into a humiliating session for Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, as presented his “Alternative Budget” to an almost empty House of Commons.

It was a bizarre and unprecedented session in the House of Commons – a Treasury minister standing up to deliver his “better” alternative budget less than 24 hours after his boss had delivered the government’s budget.

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Danny Alexander poses outside the Treasury with his Yellow Box (PA)

The “Yellow Box” – which Mr Alexander proudly posed with outside the Treasury – contained plans to borrow £70 billion less than Labour and cut £50 billion less than the Tories in the next parliament.

Even the Lib Dem benches were sparse, with fewer than 20 of their of their MPs bothering to turn up and Nick Clegg only joined for a brief appearance.

Labour MPs waved “good bye” to him as he exited the chamber after Mr Alexander had delivered his speech.

Two of the party’s five Cabinet secretaries didn’t bother lending their moral support – neither Ed Davey nor Alistair Carmichael made an appearance for their party’s first very own “budget”.

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The empty benches that greeted Danny Alexander's speech

Mr Alexander was stumped before he even began, with the Speaker warning the chief secretary not to make it too like party political broadcast.

But when he got round to it, and what we could hear above the braying and jeering from the Labour benches, Mr Alexander set out Liberal Democrat plans to match the Conservative party’s target to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18 through £30 billion of cuts and tax rises.

 

However the Lib Dem plans differ over their proposal to net an extra £6 billion from tax evaders and an extra  £6 billion in tax rises on the better-off.

Labour MPs did their best to put Mr Alexander off, waving their Budget Red Books over their head and shouting “Which page is this on?”

At one point, Labour front bencher Andrew Gwynne breached Parliamentary protocol and reached across the despatch box to pass him the Red Book.

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Shadow minister Andrew Gwynne waves the Budget Red Book to mock Danny Alexander

Chris Leslie, who responded on behalf of the Opposition accused the Lib Dems of being “two faced” for voting for the Budget and then a day after presenting their own, and attacked Mr Alexander for “party political pleading”. 

"I thought statements in the House of Commons were supposed to be from ministers speaking collectively on behalf of the government," he said. "He has totally abused that privilege."

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