Whips Notebook: Is Number 10 Thinking of Sacking the Wrong George?

by Jon Ashworth

Was it the smartest move from Tory spinners to put George Osborne up as the face of the Tory fightback this weekend? The chancellor has had a shocker since his budget and his performance on Marr coupled with his Mail on Sunday piece won’t be enough to rescue his plummeting reputation.

By the time this hitherto presumptive heir to Cameron arrived at the BBC studios on Sunday, opinion polling had been published which showed just 10 per cent would consider him well suited to be prime minister against 73 per cent who said not.

What a turnaround for Osborne. Before the budget he was lauded by commentators and Tory MPs alike. Tories would approach me in the tearoom and proudly out themselves as really being in George’s not Dave’s gang. Political magazines would produce photo montages of him looking brooding and serious in the No 10 political meetings he apparently spends too much of his time in.

Now his budget is ridiculed by Tory MPs as the bodge-it and is generally seen as the beginning of the great omnishambles of jerry can fiascos and £40,000 give-aways for millionaires.

All while ordinary people were clobbered by further squeezes on their living standards. It was extraordinary in the Commons’ budget debates recently on the various VAT rises on caravans, pasties and church renovations that Tory MP after Tory MP stood up to criticise the chancellor’s proposals with no one coming to his rescue.

Following the local elections losses more Tory MPs broke out of the traps to criticise Osborne’s budget with one usually loyal Tory MP saying “my own view is that, for example in the budget, that there was no desire here for the 50p tax change.”

I’m not surprised these Tory MPs are beginning to question whether Osborne is the master strategist his supporters present him as. Osborne’s plan for 2015 was for Tory MPs to traipse round their marginal seats handing out leaflets saying they had balanced the books, instead because his policies aren’t working they will have to hand out leaflets explaining they have borrowed £150 billion more. They didn’t think it was going to be like this.

The spin about Osborne as the strategist of his generation has always been over done. In fact he got lucky once with his inheritance tax announcement in 2007 and has been dining out on it ever since. Since then he at first supported every penny piece of Labour’s spending then u-turned and decided he didn’t.

He has flirted with a flat tax and gave the impression he wanted the UK economy to be like Estonia’s. And he boasted we were out of the danger zone and a safe haven as a result of his tax rises and spending cuts and yet the private sector growth and huge job increases he insisted would flow are yet to materialise. When he became chancellor the OBR was predicting growth for 2011 and 2012 of 2.3 per cent and 2.8 per cent. Instead we’ve now slipped back into recession.

Reshuffle speculation has begun and we’re told that Cameron is considering names such Caroline Spleman, Ken Clarke and sadly Sir George Young for the sack. As Labour Uncut readers know I’m a huge fan of Sir George Young, the Leader of the House and Lord Privy Seal.

In the Commons he rarely puts a foot wrong even when dealing with a barrage of critical MPs throwing brickbats from all directions on various omnishambolic aspects of government policy. You never see Sir George loosing his cool, becoming nasty and sneering. However, it has been reported that he’s been privately critical of the mess his fellow cabinet members made of steering legislation through in the last session. But it would seem unfair to give him the heave-ho when it’s the other George in the cabinet who is making such a mess of it all.

David Cameron and George Osborne can’t keep blaming the previous manager when they’ve now been in charge for two seasons. Their record is one that will see us borrowing £150 billion more, families worse off by £511 a year, tax credits cuts, next to no growth, increased unemployment and cuts hitting the social fabric of our communities.

The last few months have proved that Osborne has got the big judgement of this parliament spectacularly wrong. He gambled on deeper and faster spending cuts and tax rises. Ed Balls warned of the risks of a double dup recession and that the scale of the cuts would be self-defeating.

Rather than hubristically apologising for the spin of the budget, the George Osborne needs to apologise for the substance of his failing economic policies. Osborne turned out to be wrong and the country is now paying a very heavy price.

Jon Ashworth is Labour MP for Leicester South and an opposition whip

Tags: , , ,

5 Responses to “Whips Notebook: Is Number 10 Thinking of Sacking the Wrong George?”

  1. swatantra says:

    I’d also be sorry to see Sir George go. He’s been an excellent Leader of the House. Just imagine how much impoved debates and the conduct of MPs would have been if Sir George had been chosen as Speaker instead of that ***** Bercow. Unfortunatelty it was Labour that put Bercow in that seat, which proves yet again Labour are pretty rubbish at picking the best Leaders and Speakers.
    The news from France was just too great. A Socialist again in the Elysee Palace! Rejoice Rejoice Rejoice. And a real socialist at that; and a much improved version at that : a pragmatic socialist. And he’ll have to be. Because France is living beyond its means like the rest of Europe and Britain. And it’ll be interesting to see how he and the Greeks square the circle intorducing growth as well as cutting back on extravagance. The easiest way is to tax the 1% but that is going to prove difficult as we all know they are experts in tax dodging and give their money to charity; or set up bases and homes in Chelsea. We could see more settled French in Soho; in fact french could be the new lingua franca of London replacing the 149 other languages spoken here.
    Hollande makes a change from the crooks the French have had to out up within the past, crooks like Mitterand and Chirac. The only thing I have against Hollande is this ‘companion’ thing, just like Segoline, he’s got a new one. Which shows a lack of committment. And that could well bring him down in a few years. Just like DSK.

  2. uglyfatbloke says:

    Both the budget and the budget spinning were totally incompetent. There are huge savings that could be made if politicians were a bit more brave, but they are not. There’s a big shiny new tank replacement programme that wil cost billions but for all the military value they might as well be desiging a better sort of spear. The Supreme Court costs a fortune to duplicates facilities (however clumsy) that already existed. Huge sums are spent persecuting cannbis users instead of raising billions by taxing the stuff. Legal aid is available to the very rich. Trident is unusable but costs a fortune. We pay far, far too much for doctors – anything from 2.000 to 5,000 per week and even more for surgeons etc. Overpaid bureuacrats are allowed to avoid tax. Virtually all government departments are situated in London at enormous and unnecessary extra cost. Billions are being spent on a ludicrous fiesta for well-heeled athletes. We subsidise football businesses to the hilt but they can still somehow afford to shell out millions for players. When the banks screwed up Brown and Darling stepped in to save the interests of shareholders who had n’t been bothered to control the boardrooms of the businesses that they own and Osborne has followed suit….and we shall all have the privilege of paying for their incompetence for decades to come.
    Far from cutting the 50p tax rate any proper capitlalist should have advocated bringing the threshold down to 50,000 instead of 150,000 for the duration of the financial crisis. I’m not aware of one person in business who would have rejected that – after all they can always avoid the tax by investing in their businesses, which would in turn be good for the country.
    Nice to know that despite their utter uselessness Brown, Darling and (the sooner the better) Osborne will be getting very attractive pensions for the rest of their lives, though lots of people have had their pensions ruined – mine cost a fortune and is worth less than 200 per year due to Brown’s raiding. Thanks Gordon!

  3. Nick says:

    Of course they can blame the predecessors.

    Labour are still blaming Thatcher and that is decades.

    What is needed is openess on government debt, and personal statements on the debt and on taxes.

    Imagine getting a bill for a debt of 230,000 pounds that Labour hadn’t told you about.

  4. Nick says:

    Hollande makes a change from the crooks the French have had to out up within the past


    He’s just another fraudster. He will run up even more debts, hidden off the books like Bernie Maddoff, and then walk away leaving the mess for the public. Just like Blair and Brown

  5. BenM says:

    An hilarious article from Jeremy Warner in the Torygraph about Osborne’s reputation in the US:


    Written before the announcement of the double dip which we told the Austerians was inevitable.

    Go have a snigger…

Leave a Reply