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Alexanders - Daily Mail 2006

Alexanders - Daily Mail 2006

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S1 Dail y Mail, Monday, November 13, 2006

T is impossible to humili-
ate J l;lc k McConne l l.
Whether flaunting bis
knees in a miniskirt or
blithering at First Minis-
ter's questions, the man
regards shame as publicity.
But, by appointing his personal
protege, Douglas Alexander, to
run Mr McConneIl 's election
campaign, Gardon Brown has
come close.
Armour-plated though his conceit
is, the First Minister must see that Mr
Alexander's mission is a decisive snub
to him and his Cabinet.
The Chance ll or mean s it . He
despises Mr McConnell . But the
details of the reud each pretends to
have abandoned need not detain us.
Wit h Scotland's future in the Union
poised at t he edge of a chasm. the
crucial issue is who has been sent t o
save us.
The answer Is not just Douglas. the
bi zarrely boyish-looking 39-year-old Sliver -spoon si blings: Douglas and Wendy Alexander have had an easy pat h
Secretary of State for Transport and
Scotland. This country's futu re is
being entrusted to a double act: the
sibling duo jokingly known as the
Alexander Sisters. US
While Douglas prepares to pit hi s
nerdy wits against Alex Salmond's
engaging charisma, his bi g Sister
Wendy has re-emerged at Holyrood,
relnvlgorated after the birth of her
Motherhood Is no longer enough for
t.he woman with t he oratortcal style
of a frenzied rodent , She has redis·
covered ambition.
The shape of Oordon Brown's plan
. for SCotland is emerging. Douglas will
nght oft the Nationalist threat. so
leaving the ground clear for Wendy to
bid for t he First Ministership she
considers her poli tical inheritance.
There was a ti me when I would have
been overjoyed. In the Intell ectual
desert of Holyrood pOli ti cs, Wendy
Alexander is a gi ant. Her yo unger
brother has vaguely compar a ble

..... ' ....... ,.
But. the erudition t.bat. marked t.hem
out. as future leaders when both were
pupils at Park Mains High &:0001 In
Erslid.ne, RenCrewshlre. has 50
faf proved Inad!!quat.e In the
harsh world or rt!sl pollt.IC!!;.
Eac h lacks an attribute with-
out which successtUJ democra-
tic leaderslUp i.5 Wl1ikdy.
Douglas's rnl5sinK characteris-
tic Is warmt.h. tlearlng him
speak Is like wlLchlng per·
marrost . He tells Jokes and
recount. s anecdotes with a
robotic dearth or passion.
by Tim Luckhurst
His grin recalls the Irish
politician Daniel O'Cannell 's
(1715· 1847) de3cripUon or t.he
BrlUsh $t.at.esman Robert. Peel
(1 78Q..1MOI: 'When he smiled it.
me ofthe brass name-
plate on a eomn lid.'
Fellow Labour MPs call him
' that little bS."Ita.rd Alexander' ,
He Is the a p o theosis or
amblt.lon .... 1lhout compassion.
Wendy Is not unemotionaL
She famous ly relected the
0PP0rlunlty 1. 0 IgM J ack
McConnell (or Stot.1and's lOp
Job In order to gtt married, to
Profel'lsor Brian Ashcren., and
bt'come a mother. Nobody can
begrudge her that.
Arrogance .
The courage she showed In
resisting preuure to stand from
Gordon Brown and Tony Blalr
marks her out as more human
than her br o t.her. But her
arrogance. thoutm less obnox-
Ious, can be debilitating.
ScotJand will not rorget that
it was Wendy Alexander who
lnslst.ed on maJdru: the repeal of
Sec.Uon 28 the dc!nlng crusade
o( Donald Oewor's rir s t
devolved cabml't.
One can think .... hat olle likes
o( the policy. That Is not the
point. Il hud no. re-a tu red in
Labour's election maniresto and
It was hUlifely unpopular wi th
the nwJorlt:y of Labour voters.
Wendy di d not c are. WILh
Impert' lous san cti mony she
lectured us o n why we must
simply accept
The n , ra ced with robuat
0rDOSitlon, she revealed a fonn
o lnt.elleetual myopia that has
prOved borrlbly common In
Labour's leading women. They
know but . Tbey must be
lJke some Doctor Who-style
'lnvaslon or the marauding mis-
tresses or moral certainty' . they
9!1JJ hector us untU we surrender:
wendy Alexander was
In promoting a cause that was
In'elevant t o most Seots. Such
imperiOWi behavtour ra.rely pro-
duces great democ::raUc leadel"5.
Douglas and Wendy Al exan-
der are the academic equals or
briUianl Labour predeceMOrl'I
Including Anthony Crosland,
Wehael Fool and Roy Jenldns.
The problem Is that none
or t.hese , reat In tell ectual s
r e ached the top or their
proresslon. They were too
distant rrom everyday li re to
grasp popu1ar priorities.
That takes a roundl'd person-
ality and neither Alexander yet
possesses one or those. It is said
that each beUeves the common
t.o u ch Is a style o r abst.rac t
Scotland's leading political
si blings were born four years
apart with lhe same silver
spoon in their mouths.
Throughout thei r rormallve
years Lhelr faLher, the Reverend
Douglas Ale-xander. was the
best· connected mlnlsU!r in tht'
ChUrch of Scotland. Do nald
Dewllr and John Smith were
regular guests at the manSe
where they up. Their ador-
Ing mother. Joyce, a d octor.
helped La ensure they were
Intimate with the powerful.
If 9!'ealth is calculated i n
exclusively monetary tenn5, the
young Alexanders were not rich.
But in the currency of Scottish
Labour solltiCS - (r ie nd s ,
fllvours one and Innuence
owned - they were millionaires
berore they len. school
They learned poliUcal Lactlcs
at c.helr parents' kitclten table.
The Rev. Alexander pruyed for
Oo nald Oewar even wben the
connrmed at heist bened him
not to.
Later he would advertise b.ls
status In the Scottish Labour
arbtocracy by presiding over
the cburch funeral Oewa r did
not want.
Such a carefulJ.y woven web of
innuence pays dlvtdends In lhe
nepotlstlc mldden of Scottb.h
Labour politics. Douglas and
Wendy's careel"5 prove il.
Appointed /!Ipeda.1 adviser to
her dad ', old friend Oonald
Dewar 9.$ 500n as Labour won
the 1997 General Elec tio n,
Wendy was tewarde-d Immedi -
ately with 11 seat In the new
5cotUsh parUa.ment.. with·
out serving a day on the back·
benches. she W85 promoted Into
Dewar's nrst Cabinet.
Douglas's path was only
slightly more dlmcult. He did
nof win a seat In the House or
Commons at the 1997 General
But rollowlng the suicide or
Pai sl ey S o uth Labour MP
Gordon McMast.er - (·he vtctlm
o( 8 vtcioWi torrent or rumour
that won for Paisley the ruck-
name ' 11 LOwn called malice' -
Douglas's connectJons uw him
elect.ed at. the s ublllequent
by-election. Since t.hen he
risen v,;(thout trace through
Whitehall 's ministerial rank ....
He began as mlnlste-r for
eo-commerce at the Department
or Trade and IndusLry, moved
before he COUld I'ull to becomf'
Chancellor o r the Duchy of
LancaSLer and. In '2005, wa s
appointed MlnlS\.er (or Europt'
where his brier was to win a
referendum on the European
Nobody can ca ll Dou,l as
Alexander unlucky - the French
' non' on the connltution saved
his career (rom the stigma of
Int.'vltable fallure.
Life h as been too easy (or
these gilded socialist. Siblings.
A t a tJme when Scotland needs
urgent and dynamic leadership
1.0 save It. rrom separatism.
neither has any record of
succeu: as a streeUl.ghter.
Oordon Brown may trust
t hem lO rescue Brit.ain ft"om the
disastro us conseque nces of
devolution, but If that is his
view then he Is placing OU r
future in fragile hands.
Douglas Alexand er has
cli mbed the greasy pole without
achievi ng anything or slgn ln ·
cance. HIs aisLer has a demon-
strable tendency to commit he r
energies to trivtal causes.
DougLu and Wendy Alexander
are certainly brighter than the
average Labour numpty. But to
keep Scotland In the Union 1
they must grow up (ast.
Thelr upbringing in Labour's I
wann embrace ha.. corrupt,>d
them.. 1'hey am to become the
dominant J;nasty In ScotW;h
politics b('ca use they .... · f're
brought up to rell:ard that as
their deslin.y.
In the' days this country
voted Labour without lhInking.
lhey might well have suc-
ceeded. Now. each mU5t Rnd the
attributes to Dgbt (or ScoUand
not Just. for personal
mt'cllt. Tinl!! is running out.

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