Does Osborne still think ‘fiscal responsibility’ laws are a ‘con’?

'Con' artist: George Osborne.

‘Con’ artist: George Osborne.

As MPs prepare to debate George Osborne’s new ‘Charter for Budget Responsibility’ – a legally-binding document demanding that the government must balance the books by the 2019-20 financial year – let us consider his words on the subject in 2010.

In January that year, while he was still Shadow Chancellor, Osborne tried to block Labour’s Fiscal Responsibility Act.

He said: “Let us remember what one of the economists whom the Prime Minister himself appointed to the Monetary Policy Committee has said about the Bill. Willem Buiter has said: ‘Fiscal responsibility acts are instruments of the fiscally irresponsible to con the public.'”

Really? Why is Calamity George trying to inflict one on us all now, then?

Osborne went on to quote Michael Saunders of Citibank, who he described as one of the City’s leading economists, thus: “The government’s plans for legislation to cut the deficit are not convincing and are probably just camouflage – a sort of ‘fiscal figleaf’ – for the lack of genuine action.”

A ‘fiscal figleaf’, indeed! Would the ‘Towel Folder-in-Chief’ apply that title to his own work?

Let us hope that somebody in Her Majesty’s Opposition is as clued-in as the Vox Political reader who pointed out these words to This Writer – and points out to the Conservative Government that 182 Tory MPs voted against a Fiscal Responsibility Act in 2010, after their current Chancellor described such legislation as a “fiscal figleal” and a “con”.

Did they believe Osborne, Buiter and Saunders were right in 2010?

If so, then surely they must believe he is wrong – and hypocritically wrong – now.

Their votes should reflect that belief.

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5 thoughts on “Does Osborne still think ‘fiscal responsibility’ laws are a ‘con’?

  1. AndyH

    Dear Mr Osborne – one of the first rules of parliament is no government can bind its successors – has no-one ever told you that?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Thanks – and thanks to the VP reader who pointed out what Osborne said five years ago.

  2. Jeremy Leaman

    Excellent reminder of the cynical opportunism of Etonomics. Reminds me of Tony Blair’s condemnation of Public Finance Initiatives in opposition and countless other broken promises. Thanks.

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