by Samuel Dale
Last month, George Osborne delivered one of the most shambolic budgets in years.
Just days before he announced it, he pulled a massive u-turn on his headline policy by scrapping long held plans to reform pensions tax relief.
He didn’t want to risk the ire of Tory MPs during the EU referendum campaign.
It left a massive hole in the budget that was quickly filled with large cuts to disability benefits. A shocking cut that would have affected thousands of the most vulnerable people in Britain.
Just hours later he U-turned on the disability cuts too.
Then Iain Duncan Smith resigned as DWP secretary blasting government cuts and Osborne personally.
The disability cuts u-turn has left a giant hole in the budget. The Red Book does not add up for the first time in living memory.
Only Gordon Brown’s 10p income tax disaster comes close and that shambles scarred him forever.
Unbelievable budget incompetence comes as the Tories are involved in vicious splits over Europe with minister pitted against minister. Cameron v Boris. And every MP attacking everyone else.
In the midst of this chaos, Tata Steel announced they are planning to close their UK steel plants with as many as 40,000 jobs at risk.
The move comes as a direct result of UK policy to ignore the pleas of steel companies to punish Chinese dumping of cheap steel and cut taxes. Osborne did neither.
After such a shambolic month, Corbyn should have sat back and reaped the rewards.
So what has he done?
On 21 March, Jeremy Corbyn called on George Osborne to resign as Chancellor after the shambolic budget. He didn’t.
Corbyn has failed to mention IDS’ resignation or Tory splits over the EU. Not at all.
On Tata, Corbyn launched a petition for Cameron to recall parliament. Cameron has not recalled parliament.
And Team Corbyn saw a list of Labour MPs leaked that erroneously ranked the PLP in terms of loyalty to the leadership. It highlighted the party division at a time the Tories were on the ropes.
Overall, Corbyn hasn’t laid a glove on the government during this terrible period.
His parliamentary performances have been abysmal and let Cameron off the hook again and again. More than that, Cameron has been enhanced by his encounters with the Labour leader.
Corbyn’s demands and responses to crises have been unrealistic and unfulfilled. Or he has simply ignored simple lines of attack.
If Jeremy Corbyn cannot succeed against a Tory party in abject disarray then when will he?
This isn’t about ideology or policy, it is about basic competence.
All Labour members are broadly united this month in opposing disability cuts, criticising government steel policy and looking aghast at EU splits across the aisle.
But the leadership are incapable of making political capital from it.
The Labour members who revelled in Corbyn’s lack of professionalism and scruffy appearance during the leadership contest are getting what they wanted.
He is incompetent. He’s not up to the job of scrutinising and pressurising the government.
During Cameron’s worst month in office, Corbyn has managed to actually re-enforce his own biggest weaknesses.
It’s not the first time. Every time this government is in trouble they are let off the hook.
The Syria vote, the Tax Credits U-turn, the pension tax reforms.
Every time, Corbyn shoots himself in the foot and actually damages Labour further.
He is the most ineffective leader of any major political party probably anywhere in the world.
And this is just the day to day stuff. What about the long-term strategy?
How are Team Corbyn going to win back Scotland? How will they convince millions of Tory voters across? Which seats are they targeting in 2020?
Are they ready for an early election if there is Brexit and Tory leadership change?
Somehow I doubt there is an answer to any of those questions.
The disaster of Corbyn’s leadership isn’t his unpopular hard left politics but his utter incompetence.
It makes you actually feel sorry for the hard left. They wait decades to get their man in charge and this is what they have to work with.
Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist