4 Dec 2014 at 12:37
Will someone please explain to columnists like Peter Oborne that the Chancellor is actually a politician. And, shock horror, politicians make decisions to persuade the public to vote for them. There seems to be a sneering attitude towards George Osborne from the chattering classes this morning that his Autumn Statement was political. Well, of course it was. It shows a clear blue ocean between the Tories, Labour and to a certain extent some factions within the LibDems. The difference is stark and the message is clear. The Tories will give you as much as your hard earned money back as the economy can afford, encourage, growth and shrink the state whilst the other lot will tax and spend with the abandon of a drunk who has won the lottery.
You can almost smell the burning rubber of the columnist U turns. A few years ago George was an omnishambles Chancellor, cutting too fast and too deep with growth a fantasy and the country heading towards a double dip recession. ‘Where is plan B?’ they would scream. Now he is not cutting enough. He has ignored the mountain of debt. He is gambling with our future.
The truth is that Osborne has proved his critics hopelessly wrong. The man with the plan which was routinely rubbished has stuck the course, avoided the temporary political expedient of a U turn and now presides over an economic success story. But the wicked man is a politician. He realises that employment and growth figures mean very little to the public. They have seen their standard of living fall. They need to feel good about themselves. They want to share in the success that they read about but hasn’t trickled down to them yet. And that is what this Autumn Statement was all about, making people feel more secure in their jobs and persuading them if you work hard you will be rewarded. After all it’s not the government’s money, it’s come from the workers.
The real losers in this announcement is Labour and in particular the two Eds. Their mansion tax is an unworkable shambles. And they talk about reducing the deficit with the eloquence of Satan denouncing sin. Osborne the politician has out manoeuvred them on every flank. They can hardly moan about the NHS a being denied vital cash. They can’t scream that the stamp duty changes are unfair. And they can’t claim without crossing their fingers that the Tories are targeting the poor and the expense of their rich cronies. To build an election campaign on saving the NHS and on the cost of living is not so much a strategy as a cry for help. They might as well make Russell Brand Shadow Chancellor.
And where does this leave the KIPPERS? Time will tell. But when people feel better about their prospects and more secure they are less likely to look for scape goats. When lifestyles improve why take a risk with Labour and a white knuckled ride to oblivion with Farage at the controls.
No, you Fleet Street doomsayers we don’t want an economist for a Chancellor we want a politician.