Archive for the 'George Osborne' Category


If there’s no referendum on the Osborne plan for an elected mayor for Greater Manchester it could set difficult precedents

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Should previous referenda be ignored?

The big announcement from George Osborne today has been that Greater Manchester is to have an elected mayor who’ll preside over regional issues. This has been agreed with leaders of 10 councils in the region. The plan is for the new mayor to oversee policies like transport, social care and housing. Also police budgets will be included.

Politically this is quite astute because of the number marginals in the North West and here he can show that this part of England is not being forgotten

Only problem is that in May 2012 electors in Manchester voted to reject a proposal to have an elected mayor.

That was for the city and this proposal covers a much wider region.

Even though civic leaders from the region, perhaps attracted by the prospect of extra resources, have agreed the deal doesn’t mean that the 2012 referendum can be ignored. After all what’s the point of having them if within couple of years the outcomes are to be by-passed.

It would have been better, surely, to put the new proposals to the vote. Not doing so sets what could be tricky precedents.

A mistake methinks.

Meanwhile Ladbrokes have opened the betting on who’ll get the new job.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


YouGov polling blow for the man Ladbrokes make the 5-1 second favourite to be Dave’s successor

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Osbo trailed behind behind EdM, Boris, Clegg, Farage & even Balls

Although the fieldwork took place earlier in the month and before the budget it was only this week that YouGov put up the above polling on their site.

The question about how well suited X is to becoming PM is an interesting one which I can’t recall seeing before. The sample was asked for their views for each of those named in turn so it wasn’t an either/or type approach. Thus you could describe both Boris and Dave as well suited if you wished.

Notwithstanding the success of last week’s budget the polling does highlight a challenge for those backing Osborne. He can come over poorly and his excessive agression, particularly in relation to Ed Balls, does him no favours.

To be perceived in these terms is not good for his job prospects.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Budget betting : How long? What will he say? What colour tie? How many sips of water? etc

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Sporting Index budget spread markets

William Hill




On this day before Osborne’s 2012 Budget ICM had the Tories 3 points ahead, the last time any poll had a CON lead

Monday, March 17th, 2014

ICM Guardian poll March 2012

And in this March 2012 poll UKIP was on just 1%

If it should be that the Conservatives are not in government after the next general election then a lot of the blame will be attributed to the March 2012 budget and the way the government reacted in the weeks and months that followed.

Until that point in the electoral cycle, as the ICM poll for March 2012 illustrates, the Tories were doing quite well and all the focus was on Ed Miliband and Labour.

Then came the budget which even before Mr. Osborne sat down was being dubbed the omnishambles. It started with Tweets on the #grannytax then the #pastytax, the #charitytax, the #churchestax and the #caravantax.

Many of the controversial measures were later reversed after much pressure adding to the impression of chaos and raising questions about the government’s political abilities.

    It was the perception of political incompetance that was most damaging and this, I’d argue, is more important than being seen to be “good on the economy”.

The problem was that it was 2012 the budget that Osborne reduced the top rate of tax for top earners from 50% to 45% and everything else he did was always going to be contrasted with what was dubbed the “millionaires” tax relief.

March 2012 marked the start of a decline in the Tory polling position from which the party has yet to fully recover. It probably, also, was the backcloth for the rise of UKIP.

Osborne did not make the same mistakes in his 2013 budget and my guess is that his Wednesday statement will be the best of his chancellorship. It needs to be if he is to have any chance of succeeding Mr. Cameron as CON leader.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Reconsidering the case for George Osborne as next Tory leader

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

You can get a bet on him at 15/1

Until now I’ve always discounted George Osborne as Cameron’s successor. He generally polls badly and has nothing of the charisma or presence of a Boris or a Dave.

Yet the message from the reported flare-up between the Chancellor and the Mayor is that Osborne wants it badly and will use all the weapons at his disposal to achieve his goal.

The Mail on Sunday is making the Boris-George feud its main story this morning. This is how it is reporting it:

“Civil war erupted in the Tory Party last night after Boris Johnson accused George Osborne of lying about urging him to make a Commons comeback.

Supporters of the London Mayor claimed the Chancellor’s camp was engaging in a ‘dirty tricks plot’ to wreck his hopes of becoming Conservative leader – and boost Mr Osborne’s own ambitions for the job.

The simmering ‘Boris versus George’ leadership feud burst into the open over reports that Mr Osborne had ‘delivered personally’ a message to Mr Johnson that David Cameron wants him to stand as a parliamentary candidate at the next Election.”

If this report is correct then Boris himself sees Osborne as a major threat and for that reason alone we should take it seriously.

The Chancellor has built up a powerful team within the party and, as many have observed has made a point of ensuring that CON MPs loyal to him do well in re-shuffles.

He’ll get a lot of personal credit for the recovery and could be in a strong position to run for the job if the Tories lose power next year and Cameron steps aside.

One bookie has him at 15/1 for the leadership. Looks a good bet.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Osborne could have a branding problem that would make him an electoral liability

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Voters turn against when told that a plan has his backing

Yesterday’s Ipsos-MORI poll on the Autumn Statement raises an issue that could be troublesome for the Tories as they head into the general election – a branding problem when George Osborne is involved.

Back in March the firm asked people to choose between two statements about the best way to deal with Britain’s economic difficulties – either tackling the national debt or increased government spending on investment:

    “(George Osborne argues that) Britain has a debt problem built up over many years, and we have got to deal with it. If we don’t, interest rates will soar. That’s why tackling the deficit and keeping interest rates low should be our top priority”

    “(Ed Balls argues that) Without growth in our economy, we are not getting the deficit down and are borrowing more. We need more government spending on investment to kick-start our economy and a temporary cut in taxes to support growth”

When presented just as two different ways of dealing with Britain’s economic difficulties 52% choose tackling the deficit compared with 41% who choose increased government spending on investment. However, if these statements are associated with Osborne and Balls respectively, the balance tips the other way and 37% prioritise tackling the deficit compared to 53% who choose increased government spending

These results can be seen in the chart below.

What this polling doesn’t tell us is whether this is Osborne-specific or applies to the Tories as a whole. Is the party brand still toxic?

The question in yesterday’s Autumn Statement poll was phrased with the names of Osborne and Ed Balls and 40% backed the latter to 24% for the former. If the March polling is in any way indicative then keeping Osborne’s name out of the question might have produced more positive results for the coalition.

For Labour and other parties who’ll be fighting the Tories at GE2105 the message is clear – feature Osborne as much as possible.

Mike Smithson


If this Ipsos-MORI polling is right then the Westminster village, and me, got the Autumn Statement wrong

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Mike Smithson

Blogging from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble since 2004


Does the government care that household debt is soaring?

Friday, November 29th, 2013

We often hear politicians refer to the national debt, at which point Fraser Nelson will republish his chart showing the latest figures the government owes and that either the Chancellor or Prime Minister is telling fibs. This week Nelson added ‘although I hate to say it, the Labour Party has a valid point to make. If you don’t adjust for inflation, Osborne has borrowed more in under four years than the Labour Party borrowed over 13 years.’ Although national debt is the subject of political tug-of-war, it household debt that should be a cause of worry and political attention.

This week The Centre for Social Justice published a report showing 3.9 million British families do not have enough savings to cover their rent or mortgage for more than a month. Half of low-income households have literally nothing put by. Personal debt in the UK is now approaching £1.4 trillion. The report concluded  

“With falling real incomes and increasing costs of basic essentials, many – especially the most vulnerable – are sliding further into problem debt. The costs to those affected, in stress and mental disorders, relationship breakdown and hardship is immense. But so too is the cost to the nation, measured in lost employment and productivity and in an increased burden on public services.”

Labour has made most of the running on wages and living standards, but the Coalition caught them flat-footed this week in pledging to cap the costs of payday loans. Is this the height of government ambitions in this area or will we see ministers talk about household debt more? For most people it’s credit cards and overdrafts then pick up the monthly shortfalls and not the Wongas of this world.

The Chancellor wants to encourage confidence and spending on the high street and create something of a feelgood factor having spent 3 years preaching the country was teetering on a Greek-style financial precipice. As consumer confidence picks up, someone in the Treasury should be asking ‘where’s their money coming from?’ With wages in real terms decline spending is not sustainable if living costs keep rising. It also reveals a worrying characteristic about our economy and perhaps even our country. As Jeff Randall wrote last year:

“We are in the unenviable position of having constructed an economy that expands only when consumers borrow beyond the limits of prudence and blow the lot on instant gratification.”

What’s worse is the rise in household debt isn’t an unplanned shock. In 2011 the Office for Budget Responsibility ‘increased its prediction of total household debt in 2015 by a staggering £303bn since late last year, in the belief that families and individuals will respond to straitened times by extra borrowing.’

Surely ‘austerity’ should be aiming to reduce household debt, not increase it? Is this something for the Chancellor to contemplate ahead of the Autumn Statement or not of national concern and only a matter for individuals and their families?

Henry G Manson