30 Sep 2013

Tory conference: eye-popping Osborne

It transpires  that “turning the corner” on the British economy doesn’t change the view that much. George Osborne told his conference today that there is “no feeling of a task completed” and many more years of cuts ahead.

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His speech earlier this month declaring “a corner turned” was riddled with caveats, many of them echoed today. But in the coverage something got lost.

The deficit as an issue continues to slide down the list of voters’ concerns and there’s a view at the top of the Tory party that that speech on 9 September gave Ed Miliband the space to make a speech that barely touched on the deficit and promised frozen energy bills instead.

George Osborne is trying to put that right and to put some new rules to Labour which he hopes they will struggle to match. He says in years when there is growth, governments should operate in surplus.

The only years in the last 50 when a government has managed that are: 2000/01, 1999/2000, 1998/99, 1989/90, 1988/89, 1970/71 and 1969/70. And further back: 1955/56.

George Osborne suggested that Ed Miliband’s analysis that capitalism meant a race to the bottom was pure Marx.

But you have to wonder if the fuel duty freeze announcement (an aspiration to keep fuel duty frozen to the end of this parliament) was a late addition to the speech to counter Ed Miliband’s “retail offer” to voters on energy bills.

The truth is that no-one thought the Chancellor would use his last two budgets before the general election to let fuel duty merrily rip.

Quite what the new surplus rule would mean in reality and hard numbers isn’t clear but it means tight public sector spending rounds continue to the end of the next parliament.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies called the existing published plans “eye-wateringly tight” so the new plans are “eye-popping” maybe?

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3 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    Oo look!

    Somehow Gideon forgot to mention about bankers bonuses, criminal rigging of LIBOR and tax dodging transnational companies, billionaires and millionaires. Then there’s the cost of the (non) attack on Libya and the murder of Gaddafi, and the cost of a proposed attack (and probable murder of Assad) on Syria.

    Shurely shome mishtake?

  2. quietoaktree says:

    “The Tories presented their proposals as a break with the past, pointing out that the British government has only run a surplus in seven of the last 50 years and three of the last 20 years. Among G8 nations, only Germany is in surplus.”

    “Hammond had been telling his audience about Britain’s “determination to stay a leading player on the global stage” on the day it emerged he would create a cybersecurity defence force.” (with GCHQ)

    “Chancellor signals fresh cuts to welfare to deliver budget surplus by 2020”

    (The Guardian)

    “The Army is currently deployed in over 80 countries around the world. Deployments vary in strength from single military advisors to full operational deployments. The main countries the British Army is deployed to are outlined in this area of the site.”


    Something is wrong –very,very wrong about British society –the underprivileged are still a nuisance as most services collapse — and the ´Ten Pound Poms´ scheme to get rid of them is no longer an option.


    “In the first year alone 400,000 Britons applied to migrate.”

  3. Andrew Dundas says:

    The Financial Times today screams: “UK’s six more years of austerity”
    Those six more years of austerity are to achieve a so-called surplus in the “Public Sector Net Cash Requirement”. It’s claimed that such a surplus was only achieved in seven out of the last fifty years. Five of them appear to have been achieved during Labour Governments.

    The surplus cash Osborne is seeking is a chimera. It’s invented to cover up for the failure of Osborne’s Plan A and his adoption of an alternative Plan B. He’s now switched to a dash-for-recovery by subsidising new mortgages. He hopes a rise in house prices will encourage home-owners to get borrowing and spending again.

    But he’s too late! The hoped-for recovery has started too late and his aim for a cash surplus will thwart his own political ambitions. Oh dear!

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