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Budget: the challenge for George Osborne

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 21 June 2010

It is said that the Tories hid George Osborne away during the election campaign because they feared he would frighten the children. Today he plans to get his own back by frightening the grown ups, writes broadcaster Peter McHugh.

George Osborne (credit:Reuters)

He has been planning his revenge, it would seem, for quite a while. He was just 13 when he called up his mam and said he did not like his given name and intended to change it.

Had he not then tomorrow's emergency budget would have been presented by Gideon Osborne, perhaps a more apt name since biblical Gideon is "the destroyer".

In fact the budget would have been on Wednesday until someone spotted that England was playing Slovenia. They thought England's sure success in the World Cup would take some of the sting out of the budget. Oops!

So here we are just 24 hours to go, or 48 depending on whether or not you are Slovenian.

It just seems like days since Nick and Dave walked almost hand in hand into the rose garden at the back of No 10 to announce the marriage of the century.

Enemies would be friends, policies would be shared and grubby politics consigned to the ever open dustbin of history; and then they woke up.

Today we will find out if the honeymoon is over.

It is said that 23 out of the 28 members of the cabinet are millionaires which is a statistic to perhaps bear in mind as George, who is one of them, lays about us with a stick.

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He has to at least appear to be fair to rich and poor as he hopes to keep the coalition, not to mention the country, on his side.

Of course he is not on his own. Nick and Dave have promised him their full support. Mrs Thatcher promised the same to Geoffrey Howe and the same again to Nigel Lawson.

Even Gordon Brown made that promise to Alistair Darling. As Dave has no doubt told him; "there's nothing to worry about George".

He does also have a deputy, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in the person of Danny Alexander.

If the cabinet does have all those millionaires, you know Danny is not one of them. In fact you suspect that in his lunch box, next to his peanut butter sandwiches, is a note from his mum saying he has to be in by six o'clock.

Danny will be seated behind his master tomorrow having already had his go last week by announcing the discovery of £11bn more of pre-election chicanery by the previous government.

But this figure will pale into insignificance as George reveals the full extent of Labour's bad behavior which, if we are to believe the Daily Mail, would have us all working in the salt mines for time immemorial.

Meanwhile sitting in the wings and no doubt in judgment will be the chancellor in waiting, ballroom dancer extraordinaire Vince Cable.

He could have been Chief Sec but as he and George apparently can't stand each other he decided to sit this one out. But he'll be watching tomorrow stuck on the front bench of a party he has spent his political life condemning.

Vince is to George what Gordon was to Tony.

And behind them all the coalition itself. The Lib Dems, who went to the country saying no cuts this year, and now appear to have changed their minds, and the Tories, most whom won't know if they have been sold down the river until George stands up.

And then there is Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition still coming to terms with the fact that they now have to get the bus to work.

But they have that wonderful gift of collective amnesia, common to all who lose elections, which allows them to deny any responsibility for what went before.

"Wot me guv?" will be the plaintive cry as George lays out the charge sheet.

Alistair will be there, so will Harriet (who went to the same school as George) and Liam, the daft lad who left the note in the Treasury confirming the crime.

But missing from the dock will be the chief defendant, the man who made his living for years doing what George will be doing for the first time tomorrow, Gordon Brown.

The chancellor of chancellors is still glowering in the glens following his defeat and has only been seen in the Commons once and that was when he had to sign on.

Mind you George should take note of the speed with which some of those opposite rushed to declare they had apparently never even met Gordon in the previous 13 years.

And so the time has finally come for George Gideon Oliver Osborne (or Gideon George if you prefer that version).

He said of his name change "Life was easier as a George". Let's hope he still thinks so tomorrow night.

Peter McHugh

Peter McHugh is the former director of programmes at GMTV and was this year awarded the Royal Television Society Lifetime Achievement Award.

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