Ever seen a £100bn U-Turn?? I have…
When George Osborne had the lightbulb idea of introducing an Autumn statement instead of Gordon Brown’s pre-Budget Report he must have been envisaging himself leading a song and dance up the wave of UK economic recovery skipping hand-in-hand with David Cameron and his fellow Coalition buddies. The reality however is a lot starker and there were very few smiles during the session in Parliament especially from the yellow and blue side.
This is not a good week to be part of the “I love George Osborne Fan Club” (if there ever was a good time). Tories everywhere must now be questioning the very loyalty they placed in George Osborne and his ruthless economic policies which I can only describe as a “lets put everything on red” strategy (I mean how else do you explain not having a plan B?!!). Even the staunchest of Tories must now be wondering whether they should really have been seduced by the Chancellor’s hard-line attitude to slashing cuts like a hard-core samurai on speed. I understand why he commanded so much support though.
Famously, “the lady was not for turning” and in George Osborne even the mildest of Tory supporters were able to relive that part of Great Conservative History that makes their heart pump that little bit faster. Who cares that we had just come out of an economic crisis which had been the closest thing to the end of capitalism since world war 2? Who cares that unemployment was at an all-time high, the economy was retracting and inflation was creeping up? We could all see it of course but those inDowning Streetcouldn’t fathom what all the fuss was about, most probably because their idea of a recession was having to justify any expenses they put through parliament.
Although Labour must be trying hard not to tell Mr. Osborne that they “told him so” someone has to. Ed Balls has already described Mr Osborne’s “failure” as “colossal” and it is difficult to see it any other way. Firstly, the cuts just are not working. Structural debt is rising at an additional £100bn over the 5 years of parliament. Growth is significantly lower than expected, and if OECD forecasts are to be believed then growth is going to be non-existant as the economy enters the second double dip of a recession. Unemployment is raging with Youth unemployment rising to an-all time high. TheUKeconomy has lost 7% which it can never get back.
It was under the stewardship of Alistair Darling, that the economy was brought to a soft landing from the heady heights of 2008 and apparently Mr. Osborne, he understands something you don’t. Economies are cumbersome beasts. If you are going to commit surgery on them you don’t just go straight for the jugular, cut it, and then hope for the best. You have to apply some anaesthetic, think things through, then gently bring the beast to a soft landing because while a looming recession may just be facts and figures for you it is a cold hard reality for the millions of unemployed and the thousands of struggling businesses who are to see what lies ahead amongst this mist of uncertainty.
Of course the Tories now say the fault is a combination of Labour’s legacy, the remnants of the 2008 financial Crisis and the greed and hubris of their European counterparts. If we were to believe the government’s rhetoric then the Tories haven’t put a foot wrong the last 18 months. Well, if that is the case Chancellor/Prime Minister, I have one request for you… Try telling that to all those people who are going to be unable to afford any heating this Winter or won’t be able to afford as luxurious a Christmas as you will be having…