Archive for the 'George Osborne' Category


Generally on days like this George Osborne improves his Betfair “Next PM” chances

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015


Why my money’s gone on the Chancellor this morning

Today’s the chancellor’s autumn statement – the second big set piece of Mr. Osborne’s parliamentary year. Usually, the “Omnishambles” budget of 2012 apart, he gets a good initial reaction and the betting markets respond accordingly.

So I’ve developed a little trading procedure to try to profit. I back Osbo on Betfair’s next PM markets before speeches and lay him in the months ahead when things often don’t look as good. In July I was on George at an average of 5.8 (that 4.8/1 in conventional odds) on Betfair’s next PM market and got out completely in September/October at an average 3.02 (just over 2/1). That produced a nice profit.

Clearly the market have downgraded his chances quite sharply and this morning I was back betting the Chancellor once again – this time at 3.8 or 2.8/1.

I’m in for the short term. I don’t know whether George will make it in the end but my guess is that perceptions will improve.

Back in the heady days of June and July Osbo moved to a 50% “next PM” chance on Betfair. Then he could do no wrong. Since then the tax credits saga has taken its toll and my bet was at a level that rates his chances at 26%.

One thing about Osborne is that he learns from past mistakes. There’ve been no more 2012-type budgets.

Mike Smithson


The Sunday Trading vote: Dave/Osbo’s problem is not the SNP but the rebellion on the issue by 20 CON MPs

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


Aside from the EU a developing story at Westminster is the decision by the SNP to vote against the planned changes on Sunday trading that Osborne announced in the budget for England and Wales. In Scotland this is a devolved matter with decisions being made at Holyrood.

Inevitably this will raise the whole English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) debate because of the devolved nature of such a measure.

    But before we get too deep into this let’s remember that the reason that the 55 SNP MPs have any influence is that Cameron/Osborne do not command the support of the full contingent of Tory MPs on the matter.

If there was no threatened Tory rebellion then the measure would have got through the Commons. This wasn’t in the Conservative manifesto and soundings should have been taken in the party before Osborne made his announcement in the budget.

Sunday trading is a hugely controversial issue as we saw in the early 90s when big supermarkets were allowed for the first time to open for a limited number of hours on Sunday.

Governments should be able to get their measures through the Commons with, if necessary, their own MPs alone.

Mike Smithson


Reality check for Osborne’s ambitions

Friday, November 6th, 2015


The Donald Brind Friday Column

Can it really be only a month since the Chancellor George Osborne was swaggering around Manchester stealing Labour policy clothes and putting himself at the head of the queue to be next Tory leader? A Telegraph sketch of his Tory conference speech recounted – tongue in cheek — Osborne’s journey from “omnishambles to omnipotence”

Today, says the Economist, Osborne is “in a bind” over how to deal with tax credits. Rumbled by think tanks like the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Resolution Foundation and defeated in the House of Lords, “he has no good options; barring a U-turn the policy will do damage to some of Britain’s most vulnerable, and to his reputation.”

What makes life difficult for the Osborne is that the House of Lords makes the IFS analysis the yardstick against which the U-turn will be judged. in the Commons Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell challenged a grim faced Osborne to provide independent evidence that no child would be pushed child living below the poverty line

Translated the Labour threat is “don’t give us any more of your usual tricks George, or you’ll be defeated again in the Lords.”

The “tweaks” that are a favourite in Tory vocabulary are dismissed by the Resolution Foundation. Phasing in the cuts would still leave 2.7 million families worse off and only shift the burden towards the end of parliament. Imposing the cuts only on new claimants would save very little and “undermine the universal credit scheme by creating perverse incentives to work.”
The U-turn Osborne will have to perform is part of a bigger crisis which will be exposed when he produced his Autumn statement on November 25th,according to the Guardian’s Aditya Chakrabortty.  “The chancellor’s maths are finally outrunning his politics. If he doesn’t U-turn he’ll have to keep hitting striving families again and again …. over the next five years, austerity will produce many more episodes like the war over tax credits.”

The General Election in May was a disaster for Labour but it was well short of a full-hearted endorsement of Osbonomics. The overall Tory majority was the reward for just 36.9% of the national vote and, as Mike Smithson has argued, it’s unlikely they would have got that if they’d told the truth about tax credits.

Former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft has warned the Tories they would be making a big mistake if they conclude that their “old brand problem – the long running perception that Tories are more concerned about the rich than about than they are about ordinary people – has disappeared.”

Osborne’s biggest contribution to the Tory victory was perhaps his decision in 2013 to abolish a little known tax on investment funds, which Labour has described as a £145m ‘hedge fund tax cut’.
As Jeremy Corbyn highlighted in his Labour conference speech the Tories “received £55 million in donations from hedge funds.” The cash was spent by Lynton Crosby on the Tory ground war which crushed the Lib Dems and blocked any Labour advance in the English marginals.

Whatever optimism that Osborne and Cameron generated to secure their narrow victory in May seems to be melting away, according to Ipsos Mori polling reported in the Evening Standard under the headline “Britain’s sunny view of the future goes as economic clouds gather.”

The poll shows gloomy Britons outnumbering optimists by 38% to 32%, with women, the young and people living outside the South of England particularly gloomy. The score of minus 6 on the index is the worst since April 2013, after the country had only narrowly avoided a double-dip recession. The index had plunged into the negative following the Chancellor’s “omnishambles” budget in 2012 which was followed by a U-turn over the taxes on pasties, caravans and charities. The U-turn now required of Osborne is arguably on a greater scale that that needed in 2012.

You may have guessed you have been reading the thoughts of an Osbosceptic. I find the whiny voice and the expression permanently half way between a smirk and a sneer deeply unattractive.

I’m guessing a lot of voters react in the same way. Or,  maybe I’m not guessing. In 2020, if things go to plan Osborne will be head to head with the much derided Jeremy Corbyn. Approval rating produced by Opinium show they are “effectively tied”. Bad news for Osbophiles.

Don Brind


The latest PB/Polling Matters Podcast on Polling Matters – Tax Credits, Lords reform and George Osborne

Thursday, October 29th, 2015


What’ll happen to the Lords,tax credits and George Osborne?

Polling Matters returns. Keiran, Rob and James discuss the implications of the tax credits row for the House of Lords. What do the public think about welfare? What do they think about the House of Lords and has George Osborne damaged his chances of becoming Prime Minister this week?

Remember tonight’s PB gathering in London: All invited

Details and map can be found here.


If the CON GE2015 manifesto had been specific about the tax credit change it’s arguable that they would NOT have won

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Next time it’ll harder not to be specific

An interesting point was raised by an SNP MP at PMQs:

“.. the reason David Cameron chose not to include this policy in his manifesto – and the reason he promised before the election not to do it – is because he knows if he had done, he would not have been elected. Pushing working families into poverty even goes against the most right wing Tory rhetoric about those mythical “benefit scroungers”.

There’s something in that. This would have been a specific that all the non-CON parties would have been able to get their teeth into and it would have been a big part of the campaign.

I think it will be harder for any party at the next election to make the kind of generalised statements that the Tories did last April/May.

Mike Smithson


Osborne – the Volkswagen of British politics – having taken a reputational hit the question is can he recover?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015


Remember Maggie survived taking away school milk

George Osborne is a bit like Volkswagen – never really loved but until a short time ago highly regarded for reliability and performance. Then came the tax credits – his version of the diesel emissions scandal with the defeat software designed to get round environmental tests.

For the past six months Osborne had appeared to be able to do no wrong. He got much of the kudos within the Conservative Party for the extraordinary an unexpected election victory in May. His budget 3 months ago was well received and he appeared the master of all before him.

This has been reflected in the next CON leader betting markets. The former position where he trailed Boris by some distance changed in late June and George established himself as the firm favourite to succeed Dave.

    A problem he has got with the tax credits move is that he could get stuck with the tag of wanting to make the poor poorer.

All his efforts on “cutting welfare” appeared to be focused on the young with him never daring to seeking to get pensioners (the segment most likely to vote and support the Tories) to shoulder some of the burden of deficit reduction. That might appear to have been smart politics but it can appear to be unfair.

He’s also getting a reputation, rightly or wrongly, of being more keen on setting traps for Labour than anything else.

One thing he should console himself with is Maggie Thatcher’s early years as Education Minister. One of her cost reduction measure in the early 70s that proved very controversial was taking away free school milk. Those of my generation well remember the chant “Maggie Thatcher Milk Snatcher“. In the end that did not do her any harm.

Osborne does learn from past mistakes and has shown in the past an ability to bounce back. My guess is that in the short to medium term he’s got a better chance of recovering than Volkswagen.

Mike Smithson


Flooding the Lords with 100s of new peers so several million people can be made poorer doesn’t sound like smart politics

Monday, October 26th, 2015


The great Lords-Commons standoff

Today, of course, the House of Lords gets to decide whether George Osborne’s controversial tax credits curtailment plan will go forward. Because of the way this is being pursued through Parliament, as a statutory instrument, this is a rare occasion when the Upper House can, if it wants to, block a major part of government policy.

If this had been part of a finance bill then the House of Lords would have had no power to stop it. It is the parliamentary process that George Osborne’s team have used that has created this possible crisis between the two houses.

In the build up over the past few days we have seen quite a number of Conservative voices raised against the policy of their own government. The latest to join is Ruth Davidson the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

If the Lords do block it it will be in the face of threats to create 100+ new CON peers in order to ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again. I don’t buy it.

    A problem for ministers is, as the latest YouGov polling finds, that they are not winning the argument on the issue itself. The pollster found 46% said they thought this was unfair with 28% saying it wasn’t. The rest don’t have a view.

My reading of George Osborne is that following his Omnishambles budget of 2012 the last thing he wants to happen is for him to have appeared to have U-turned. His ratings took a lot of damage 3 years ago but he has slowly recovered his position.

One thing’s for certain: When Osborne runs for the leadership of the Conservative Party then what happens over tax credits will be a key part of the campaign.

Mike Smithson


Doing “Best PM” comparisons between Corbyn & Dave is like asking US voters to choose between Obama and Trump

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

We all know that David Cameron is not planning to remain as prime minister after the next general election. So the choice will between Corbyn, unless he’s replaced in the meantime, and AN Other.

So why is it that pollsters, and presumably their media clients who agree to the form of questioning, continue with best p.m. ratings that include the current prime minister? The findings really don’t have any relevance to the next big election battle in the UK.

Thankfully, in its latest poll, Opinium has chosen to put some other options in as well although they still have included Mr Cameron.

This is very much on the American model that we are seeing at the moment as the two main parties go through the process of choosing their nominees for next year’s White House Race. Many pollsters are putting forward to those sampled a huge range of possible options to try and test the water as to which of the leading contenders would be a better choice.

The findings can have a significant effect on the nomination process itself. Those that are doing well are, understandably, going to do their best to try and highlight this the ahead of the primaries.

The Opinium poll tested three choices as CON leader in its latest survey as well as Cameron. The findings are in the chart above.

    The most surprising one, I’d suggest, is how poorly George Osborne is doing against Jeremy Corbyn. Given the very negative reaction that there’s been to the new Labour leader Osborne, surely, should have been polling substantially better than Mr Corbyn as best PM.

Clearly, at the moment, Osborne is being hit by much of the response to his tax credit move which is proving to be unpopular within his party as well as in the country.

Things have to change for George. He cannot go into a conservative leadership contest with him still just level pegging with the Labour leader.

Mike Smithson