Yesterday was the Conference turn of the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, and he told his audience repeatedly that “we are all in this together”. Except, of course, some of us are, and will be, but George and the other chaps will not.
But, so what? Why don’t I treat the bloke purely on his merits? Very good point – but the attempts to tell everyone that Osborne is just an ordinary kind of guy, and that it was all down to his dad making some money out of wallpaper, come from the party itself. I have no problem with his being the heir to an hereditary Baronetcy: it’s not me that is trying to sweep his past under the carpet.
So what kind of vision is George giving us? My first reaction was that he was trying to out-tough what had been announced the previous day by Alistair Darling, a sort of “your tough talk, and I’ll raise you another notch or two” poker game. Any cuts that stop measures intended to create jobs, or at least get young people into work, may be counter productive, so I hope the Tories have done their sums.
And, as Stephanie Flanders has posted yesterday, the numbers announced so far don’t give the whole picture: the inference of her analysis was that there will have to be more cutting and/or saving if a future Tory Government is to make its numbers add up.
Problem is, the more you reveal, the more ammunition you give to your opposition. This was the flaw in the late John Smith’s 1992 “shadow budget”, and it was this that lost Labour the General Election (forget Neil Kinnock’s Sheffield speech, or Sun front pages).
Like his boss Young Dave, Osborne is not daft. So, as the Tories are becoming fond of saying, it’ll be one policy at a time, thanks very much.
[UPDATE: Steve Bell has given his view on the Osborne speech here]