25 Jul 2014

Osborne marks GDP moment

Arriving  in sunny Newcastle for the announcement of GDP figures, the chancellor wasn’t going anywhere near the words Nick Clegg used in his euphoric tweet this morning: “the rescue has worked!”

George Osborne was much more cautious, but then there is a sense in Tory top circles that they think their Lib Dem coalition partners are going through a period of serious panic.

Anyway, the chancellor refused to accept that his deficit reduction was stalling – despite this graph showing public sector net borrowing that suggests just that.


I asked him what kind of recovery it was when people didn’t feel it in their pockets and he gently glided off to talk about jobs and the north-east.

But economists you talk to ponder whether this is what recovery feels like in the globalised economy, wages lagging inflation.


I asked if RBS profits announced today might bring forward plans for privatisation to help him with his numbers but he ruled that out.

He stuck with his line that sectoral sanctions against Russia should go ahead because the cost of a lawless world was greater than the cost to the City. I asked a couple of times if this was a pretty poor time for the Conservatives to be taking money from Russian oligarchs  (not just the tennis game won at auction but the dinners for rich folk mentioned  in the Times, but reports that some Russians are being wooed to donate to the Tories to fend off a mansion tax).

He said the party was not doing anything illegal, which as he knows is a much lower barrier than the “ask yourself how it would look on the front page of the Daily Mail” test that David Cameron himself unveiled at the height of the MPs’ expenses saga.

George Osborne marked the milestone GDP moment by visiting Northern Rock’s old HQ in Newcastle, now home to Virgin Money.

He wants to do anything possible to remind voters of how the recession started under Labour and, in his view, was to a large extent their fault.

He thinks that message has got through to British voters and is one of the main reasons he still thinks the Tories can win the next election.

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