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As he will be remembered: George Osborne.

As he will be remembered: George Osborne [Image: Steve Bright for Channel 4].

If The Guardian had its way, George Osborne would have been giving a Twilight Statement, rather than an Autumn one – as in “Twilight of his career”.

“The choice confronting the country was, [Osborne] said, whether to stick the course of a ‘long-term economic plan’ which was working, or whether instead to hand power back to a Labour party that would ‘squander the economic security’ he had painstakingly built,” mocked the paper’s editorial column, “through cavalier decisions on borrowing and public spending” [Italics mine].

Cavalier decisions, according to any dictionary, are those offhand choices that show a lack of proper concern. The Boy hasn’t been taking his job seriously.

“That proclaimed long-term plan… turned out to need a short-term rewrite,” the column continued. ”

“The resolute Mr Osborne of 2010 stated that the national debt would by now be falling, from a maximum of just below 70% of GDP, but instead it continues to march towards a peak which he now concedes will be over 80%.

“He was, he said then, on course to ‘meet our fiscal mandate to eliminate the structural current budget deficit one year early, in 2014-15’, something he now accepts will not be done until well into the next parliament.

“And the headline measure of the government overdraft, which the ‘long-term plan’ had initially pencilled in as £40bn this year, was on Wednesday revised up to £91.3bn, which represents slippage of well over 100%.”

Over 100 per cent! That should be a sacking offence – and voters should bear that in mind next May.

“Much of the shortfall in revenues can be traced back to the great stagnation of 2011 and 2012, for which Mr Osborne and his premature retrenchment bear considerable responsibility,” the article continues. “With its mandate still fresh, the coalition timetabled front-loaded cuts for political reasons, hoping to create room for giveaways later, as 2015’s date with the voters moved on to the horizon. But with decidedly unserious [cavalier?] disregard for the frailty of the economy of the time, it virtually snuffed out growth.”

How refreshing to see a representative of the mainstream press openly stating what we’ve all known for years!

“Indeed, GDP only began bouncing back in earnest after Mr Osborne silently conceded defeat on plan A, by incrementally postponing ever-more of the austerity into the next parliament.”

Interesting. Here at Vox Political the belief has been that he conceded defeat on plan A by concocting an apparent attempt at Keynsianism in his ‘Help to Buy’ scheme, that in fact proved to be another housing price bubble of the kind that caused the recession – and one that has yet to burst. Turning to Keynesian economics represented the failure of his neoliberal policies, you see, but he never openly conceded the point – even though he was clearly interfering with the markets.

“He is, reportedly, confecting a parliamentary vote this week to lock the next parliament into the same sort of fixed timetable that he failed to deliver the first time around, and to close off the same flexibility which ultimately saved his bacon. The purpose is, we must presume, to confront the opposition with an awkward dilemma, between offending its anti-austerity base and exposing itself as profligate. Such game-playing surely doesn’t qualify as serious economics.”

Certainly not – and it won’t work in any case. The next government – if not Tory, can simply disregard such a decision as no Parliament may bind the next.

Measures announced in the Autumn Statement were intended to indicate a “Tory tax-cutting route… that can, supposedly, leave everyone better off”. But this is “an illusion.

“Mr Osborne is boosting tax allowances for higher-rate taxpayers, while freezing the amount poor workers can earn before their universal credit is reduced.

“And after next year’s election… Messrs Cameron and Osborne are pretending that there will be no need for any tax rises, and that further spending cuts can do all the work… There is no serious way that this can be done.

“The OBR’s tables state that, under current plans, the day-to-day funding for all services beyond the NHS and state schools will now have to fall from £3,020 per head at the end of the last Labour government, to £1,290 by the decade’s end. That is a real-terms decline of more than half [57 per cent plus change], the bulk of which is still in prospect, for policing, justice, local government, culture and everything else besides.”

Most of the savings so far have come from cutting pay – a safe bet when private wages are stagnant, according to the article, and probably one of the reasons Osborne was embarrassed by collapsing Income Tax receipts. Nevertheless, he is raising the tax-free allowance (the amount you can earn before having to pay Income Tax) from £10,000 to £10,600 per year. Clearly he intends to have even less in the kitty next year, so the cuts can go on and on and the UK can be ultimately reduced in stature to its position in the 1930s, before the NHS and the welfare state, the only difference being we would be utterly in hock to the bankers.

His would be the first government to voluntarily turn its country into a banana monarchy. (Well, we’re not a republic, are we?)

The result? “Recruitment difficulties…malfunctioning courts, unruly jails, boarded-up youth clubs, overgrown parks, shuttered museums, perhaps even rubbish piled up on the streets.”

Mention of rubbish on the streets is a deliberate reference to the ‘Winter of Discontent’ (1978) that sounded the death-knell of the Labour government of the day and paved the way for 35 years of neoliberalism. How humiliating for Osborne if he became the Tory chancellor who demonstrated that the ideology his party has so slavishly followed, since Thatcher first slammed Hayek’s book down on her lectern and yelled “This is what we believe now”, had achieved nothing but the same result.

But then, as the article concludes, Osborne is “not nearly as serious as he likes to pretend”.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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