5 Dec 2012

Osborne: we are not even a third of the way into age of austerity

To the eternal back-of-the-car question “are we nearly there yet?” George Osborne said “it’s a hard road but we’re getting there.” Some might interpret his statement as the equivalent of  shouting at the travel-sick kids: “nowhere near, sorry.”

This should’ve been the half-way point in the austerity journey but a five hour car journey that was never going to be fun has turned into an 8 hour car journey with no guarantee of a very nice holiday destination at the end of it.

George Osborne hopes that he’s helped to neutralise the impact of missed targets by taking a pot shot at welfare.

Tories say privately they think that this is a winning way to get swing voters who resent the “shirkers,” people “with the curtains drawn all day,” as George Osborne put it at the Tory Conference, people “asleep” when the neighbours go to work, he repeated today.

Leaving aside whether that’s a vote-winner/accurate, the working age benefits capped at 1 per cent for three years include not just job seekers allowance but tax credits and other benefits that often go to in-work families.

It’ll be interesting to see how that real terms cut translates for them when the number crunchers put it through their machines.

Mr Osborne thinks “welfarism” in general has got a bad name and he’s relishing a Brownian/Ballsian style political battle-line on this. He hopes to push it to a vote before Christmas, putting it up to Labour to support or oppose his 1 per cent cap for three years.

Some say they think if the public believes there are more years of cutting to be done they’ll be inclined to trust the Tories more to do it.

You have to say there are more in the former category though, and the timescale for economic turnaround presented by George Osborne today is a far cry from the one he’d hoped for and which he presented to Tory MPs in 2010 showing economics and Tory political fortunes working together in happy harmony.

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5 reader comments

  1. Philip says:

    If he was as keen on going after the taxes which his rich friends and multinational corporations should be paying, he wouldn’t need to focus on divisive and unfair punishment of people on benefits – the vast majority of whom are either in work, have been in work or want to be in work. It just emphasises who Osborne is really helping – and it isn’t most of us. Can’t he understand that taking more disposable income from a large proportion of the population won’t help the economy grow? It will continue to stagnate & he’ll continue to miss his borrowing targets & will blame “shirkers” again & cut benefits in real terms again, with the same results, so we continue along a never-ending vicious circle. Osborne is the political equivalent of the ousalem bird – & I hope he suffers the same fate – sooner rather than later!

  2. Philip Edwards says:


    Sixty three years ago Aneurin Bevan called the tories “vermin.”

    He was wrong.

    They are worse, much worse.

    Bevan had suffered from the tories and witnessed what they ALWAYS did to the most vulnerable in society. And ALWAYS it resulted in them filling their own pockets at the expense of everyone else.

    The tories are an inhuman blight on our society, underpinned by the media they own and propaganda barrow boys like Property Exchange and the Adam Smith “Institute.”

    What a sickening gang of two faced cowardly spivs.

  3. sue_m says:

    I am incredulous that Danny Alexander was still plying the ‘mess we inherited’ mantra on the show tonight. What a joke!

    George Osborne is just an over-privileged schoolboy who, along with his chum Dave, thought he had some right to involve himself in running the lives of the little people of the UK (who most likely don’t know what’s good for them and need to be “encouraged” to understand their place in life). Poor Gideon though, it seems his spelling was as poor as his economics and he actually finds himself ruining lives not running them.

    No doubt he believes that all of us who work go past drawn curtains every morning cursing the ‘scroungers’ that live behind them because in the rarified little world that he and his equally self-regarding set live in they would jump to the assumption those people must be these infamous scroungers who apparently make up the vast majority of the unemployed. (Actually in my road they are just the people who work shifts but Gideon probably doesn’t know any shift workers).

    In reality most of us know that the majority of unemployed are not that way by choice and so far it is this failure of a Chancellor who can neither get his…

  4. Andrew Dundas says:

    I’m with Robert Skidelsky, Samuel Brittan, Paul Krugman, Martin Wolf and many more economists who have each writen that the Lord Snooty – Frog spawn – Clegg alliance has got the analysis entirely wrong.
    What we have is a worldwide financial crisis where the absence of consumer demands – because we’re obsessed with debt issues – is driving down purchases, creating bankruptcies and cutting tax revenues.
    If the folks are scared into paying down debt INSTEAD OF SPENDING, then we shall not spend enough to keep each other in a decent job.
    Even the Money Markets have got it right! Real savings rates are at all-time record lows precisely because we should ALL be SPENDING. Not saving. Moreover, even the Bond Markets are ignoring the ‘ratings agents’.
    What we need are cuts in VAT right across the NATO area. That way we’d boost spending and get the unemployed back into jobs with extra profits for shareholders and lower debts too.

  5. daz Schofield says:

    Scape goating the poor.Blaming other parties for the failures of the Conservatives.Its all smoke
    and mirrors to conceal the true agenda of these Public Schoolboys.Basically,robbing the poor to
    feed the rich.I could go on-but whats the point.
    Who voted for these idiots anyway.

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