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The top level of government isn’t riddled with personal hatred – thanks to Osborne

23 January 2014

9:48 AM

23 January 2014

9:48 AM

Now that the economic statistics are looking better, people are beginning to rediscover the once-fashionable thought that George Osborne is a great strategist. Things are coming together before the 2015 election in a way which makes life uncomfortable for Labour. I am not sure that ‘strategist’ is the right word, but I do think Mr Osborne deserves praise for something else. If you compare this government with the last, you will see that it is not dysfunctional in its internal relations. The coalition has constant frictions, but these are, as it were, built into the system. After nearly four years, there is no serious split or even known personal hatred at the top of the government. The trust between Prime Minister and Chancellor, which collapsed under Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown, is unbroken. Osborne is good at being powerful without pushing himself forward excessively. He is also cool-headed enough to realise his own limitations, and therefore does not annoy colleagues by trying to be a media star. Like most politicians that the public do not warm to and unlike most that they do, he is quite nice — humorous, good at absorbing what others say, pleasant to work with. His Treasury team of advisers is unusual in this government in combining policy understanding with media skills — much superior to their Downing Street equivalents, who seem directionless and content-free. And in an election campaign which will centre on the economy, it is worth bearing in mind that it is at the Treasury that horrible memories of the Brown years are most vivid. At a lecture to the Mile End Group last week, the Permanent Secretary, Sir Nicholas Macpherson, who served in his present job for the last five Labour years, set out his ten ‘propositions’ of what the so-called ‘Treasury view’ really is. About seven of them read as implied criticisms of the Brown years. His propositions are certainly not praise-singing for the present government either, but they suggest a certain confidence in the way things are going and a fear of returning to what we had then.

This is an extract from the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 

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Show comments
  • Daniel Maris

    “I know – I’ll go into the next general election with the vast majority of hard working families worse off than they were five years ago under Labour, to the tune of about £2000. That should do it.”

    Yes – great strategy.

    The reality is that Cameron and Osborne have had a very easy ride from a couple of Labour duds.

  • IRISHBOY

    And on top of all these amazing gifts Charles hasn’t mentioned, as seen above, that the boy wonder also does a great Larry Grayson – Shut that door!

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Things are coming together before the 2015 election in a way which makes life uncomfortable for Labour

    .

    The blogger appears to be caught up in the typical Londonistan bubble fantasies. The Camerluvvies’ opposition is the electorate, not the Millipedes, who would do best to just stand aside and let the electorate carry on, and do what it’s going to do. It’s the same throughout Europe and the world, these days. Populist, mostly conservative movements are taking down gammy, mealy-mouthed, conniving twits… everywhere. And in 15.5 months, Dave’s mealy-mouth is going to be mounted on a spike, along with the rest of his head .

    • Fergus Pickering

      Don’t think so, you Yankee tosspot.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        I didn’t know you socialists could think, lad.

  • dalai guevara

    “People are beginning to rediscover the once-fashionable thought that
    George Osborne is a great strategist” and even the author will assert no sooner than in the next line that he is riddled by the notion that ‘strategist’ was the right word. Thanks for that. Gotcha.

  • HookesLaw

    If David Davis had acted with the same honour dignity and selfless patriotism that Willie Whitelaw displayed after losing a leadership election (instead of self-serving arrogance) then there would be even less ‘animosity’ – although in the case of tory backbenchers it would be a case of less crass stupidity.

    • @PhilKean1

      No surprise that you mistake principled resistance to Cameron’s poor leadership as him somehow being a poor loser.
      .

    • James Strong

      David Davis’s resignation of his parliamentary seat to fight a by-election over the issue of 42 day detention without charge was one of the outstanding acts by a Parliamentarian in recent years.
      It brought the issue into the news, when many said he should not have done this and should not have ‘rocked the boat’.
      It scuppered his chances of getting into the Cabinet, but it was the act of a man who put his patriotic commitment to the freedom of his compatriots ahead of his own personal ambition.
      It is Cameron who has failed to display honour and dignity by not having Davis in the Cabinet.
      But I am sure that Davis still regards it as a price worth paying for what he did.

      • HookesLaw

        It was a pointless piece of opportunistic grand standing self promotion that achieved nothing.
        Do you seriously think that its OK for people to resign themselves in and out of the cabinet, shadow or otherwise, on a whim?

        In his by-election BTW neither Labour or LDs put up a candidtate and turnout was just 34%. His act was totally pointless. Certainly not the act of anybody rational and contrast vividly with the acts, achievements and influence shown by Whitehalw.

        Davis could have served his country – instead he chose to serve himself.

        • James Strong

          ‘Totally pointless’ ?
          On the contrary, it was extemely effective.He frightened Labour and the LibDems out of the debate.
          They were afraid to oppose Davis’s stand against 42 day detention without charge.
          Had he not taken his action the idea of 42 day detention may well have rolled quietly on until it was implemented over an uninformed and sleepy electorate and a weak opposition

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes. This.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          You really are a moral degenerate, in addition to being a tribalist hysteric. You are the type that brings on tyranny, throughout history.

        • Makroon

          It may have ultimately been “pointless”, but Cameron’s refusal to bring him back into the fold is even more pointless.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            On the contrary, it was all too pointed. Call Me Dave is a typical socialist, who despises freedom and liberty, and those who cherish it and stand up for it.

  • Kitty MLB

    There does not seem to be any animosity at the top end of government'( yet)
    They acquiesently pat their fellow delusional clones on the back, believe they are
    absolutely correct and like to portray a false image of ‘Conservative Togetherness’,
    even a few other blogs are peddling this little deceit and slap down those who disagree! as well as cowardice, never making difficult and unpopular choices,
    that can cause animosity.
    This will change though the closer we get to an election, The Lib Dems are showing their real colours which are dirty, unprincipled and undemocratic and not cuddly tree huggers!
    George Osborne, perhaps is a Conservative ( cannot believe I said that)
    he must also ( unlike Cameron) be utterly sick of the wretched coalition partners
    and also Cameron himself, at the last election Osborne wanted the massage
    only to be about the economy, Yet Cameron was only interested in the nonsensical
    muddle that was the Big Society.
    There is also UKIP, and Conservatives as well as Labour are quite afraid of that party
    and desperate- especially as either of the main parties are unlikely to get a majority- so therefore watch this space as far as animosity is concerned.

    • @PhilKean1

      Yes, some may well find it an admirable quality that Cameron appears to regard loyalty to his best friend above any other political consideration.

      I don’t !
      .

  • @PhilKean1

    .
    A united Osborne and Cameron thought that –

    economic growth, however it is achieved, would give them a poll boost sufficient to enable them to keep kicking the urgent matter of EU membership into the long grass.

    And as we have seen with their catalogue of misjudgements since gaining control of their party, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

    And not that we didn’t tell them. Oh no.

    Basically, the people who WILL decide the outcome of the next election are those principled ex Conservatives for who economic growth – (growth built upon printed and borrowed money, and an irresponsible housing boom) – means absolutely nothing unless the urgent matter of Britain’s catastrophic membership of the EU is addressed.

    I mean, did Cameron and Osborne, the Laurel and Hardy of British politics, REALLY think that abandoning their own core voters in an attempt to more onto Labour’s ground would be a sound strategy?
    .

    • @PhilKean1

      http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/benedictbrogan/100256235/tories-urgently-need-a-growth-dividend/

      And it doesn’t surprise me that Benedict appears to be so surprised.

      Unquestioning loyalty has its costs.
      .

      • the viceroy’s gin

        The comments section following Benedict’s article is quite useful. Commenter cargill55 ruthlessly dismantles the empty politicking narrative of the Cameroonian Londonistan bubble denizens, in the very first 2 comments:

        .

        ‘ Tories urgently need a growth dividend ‘

        It will take much more than that to dig the Tories out of the hole
        created by sovereignty given to the EU, soaring population served badly by a state sector which looks after itself and not the people who pay for it, broken state and personal finances, falling living standards, decaying infrastructure, a broken political system, cronies and zealots in charge of policy, our military and border security dismantled, vanity projects, unnecessary involvement in military conflict , maintenance of an underclass, our money wasted on political bribes to buy votes, dysfunctional housing and energy markets, quangocarcy, charitocracy, bureaucracy as parasites and political troughers, corruption right at the heart of the political system, a judicial system handed over to the EU empire.

        .

        .

        .

        ‘How do the Tories earn credit for the recovery? Yesterday’s
        remarkable employment figures have left Conservatives scratching their heads over a dilemma that grows with every new piece of economic good news: where is the growth dividend?’

        Trouble is the recovery is a vote buying scam, an illusion created by Osborne for the Tory party. Its base is more state and personal debt, erosion of savings, creation of hundreds of billions of pounds of gilts, theft of £120 billion from savers and pensioners through QE, uncontrolled immigration and artificially low rates. Its consequences will be a house price boom, impoverishment of millions, falling living standards especially for those on fixed incomes and a day of reckoning in future which will be appalling. It will end in the same way as Browns did, a house price bust, recession and a disaster for state and personal finances. All because Osborne put Tories first and not the British people, thing is Mr Brogan people now see what Governments do and why, that is why Libdems are finished, Tories are near breaking point and Labour is next. The old cartel is finished.

        • @PhilKean1

          Excellent.

          Can’t disagree with any of it. Except when he refers to Cameron’s bunch as being “Tories”.

          Conservatives, they are not !
          .

          • Daniel Maris

            Well pretty penetrating analysis, though no doubt we would disagree on the prescriptions.

    • HookesLaw

      Oh dear what a shame for you – the country is recovering and people do not really care about the EU. Is that why UKIP is banging on about race all the time now?
      If the country is awash with printed money why has inflation been falling?

      • @PhilKean1

        Please enlighten us all to your accusation that UKIP are banging on about race?

        Please tell us where you see race as an issue, and not that, because Britain isn’t able to control immigration as long as we remain in the disastrous EU, UKIP happen to mention those peoples’ which now have unrestricted access to the UK and whose arrival will put even more intolerable pressure on our ability to absorb them?

        It is only people like you who try to convince the weak-of-mind that EU membership is a low priority amongst the electorate.
        Sit them down and explain the facts and they are pretty soon patting me on the back and telling me which of their friends and relatives they, too, will be trying to educate.
        .

        • HookesLaw

          Sit them down and explain the facts that being Out is little different from being In and they will be pretty soon laughing in your face.
          Look at Norway and see what being in the EEA means. Norway is the 10th biggest net contributor to the EU and its not even a member – and it signs up to single market rules.

          • @PhilKean1

            Being out means that the British people will retain control over which politicians make the laws they live by, and ensure that Britain is NOT coerced into joining the Euro.
            .

            • HookesLaw

              We are not going to join the Euro – unless of course we get a Europhile Labour govt.. The Eurozone is why there will be a renegotiation and referendum under the tories in 2017

      • Kitty MLB

        How much as our little deficit slayer George Osborne
        been borrowing ? if only he were not attached to the Lib Dems,
        Blair’s little acolyte Cameron- had the likes of John Redwood,
        and real Conservatives on board- and that will never happen as
        Cameron, regardless of what he says wants the coalition to continue.
        This ‘ recovery’ we shall see if its real.
        The EU has so much control over peoples lives-
        from the wretched human rights that protects terrorists!
        businesses, our courts, immigration to food prices.

        • HookesLaw

          The ECHR is nothing to do with the EU – we created it in 1950.
          Osborne inherited a deficit of nearly 170 billion and a ruined economy.
          What a sad miserable bunch you lot are.

          • Kitty MLB

            ‘ What a sad miserable bunch you lot are’
            What lot is that, I am one of those Tory grassroots
            who are wandering around a leaderless wilderness- in exile!
            Also, I am slightly more sympathetic to Osborne then most.

          • @PhilKean1

            As I told you only a few days ago, signing up to the ECHR is now a condition of membership of the EU.
            .

            • HookesLaw

              And since we invented the ECHR why should that be a problem for anybody? The ECHR – whether its pronouncements are good or bad, has nothing to do with the EU. You come up with one empty headed argument after another.

            • Hexhamgeezer
        • Fergus Pickering

          Try not to use the word little so often, you little turd

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …had a bit too much to drink today, lad?

        • Makroon

          Inconvenient for your thesis that John Redwood pretty much endorses Osborne’s economic strategy – try reading his blog sometime.

    • Makroon

      If the EU Question is so urgent, why are people like you hell-bent on seeing Labour back in power ?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …because you Camerluvvies are their socialist soulmates and love the EUSSR?

        But as the Millipedes appear to be such a problem for you as you state, perhaps you shouldn’t split the UKIP vote, lad. That would put you in charge of solving your self stated problem, and you wouldn’t have to just sit whimpering about it, waiting for somebody else to give you something, and do something for you, like a typical socialist.

  • anyfool

    You are quite right that personal animosity is missing from the top in government, what the Tory part of the coalition has to contend with, is the unremitting animosity seemingly from all television presenters, especially on Sky who now seem to be in a race with the BBC to find the most negative slant on any good news.

    • HookesLaw

      24 hour news is after is desperate for any scrap of rubbish it can sensationalise. its a bogus concept. if there is no news it must invent it. Does anybody actually watch SKY News or BBC 24 any more ? I gave up years ago – its full of empty air presented by air-heads..

      • @PhilKean1

        I did notice that the BBC and Satellite TV news tried their hardest to lead a high-ranking Nissan representative into making threats to reduce investment in the UK, or pull out altogether, if Britain leaves the EU.

        To my surprise, he was having none of it, no matter how hard they pressed. Good for him.
        An about-turn from the shameful threats they issued when Brown refused to take Britain into the Euro currency.
        .

        • HookesLaw

          In November the Chief executive of Nissan said it would reconsider its future in the UK if it exits the single market.
          As Norway is not in the EU but is also in the single market – then that remark seems to be what I would expect.
          But if we are like Norway then leaving the EU to join the EEA and staying in the single market would leave us little different.
          Norway pays into EU structural funds obeys single market rules and free movement of labour and is in Schengen.

          Leaving everything else aside – if the UK left the EU and the single market it would put billions of inward investment at risk.

          • @PhilKean1

            Billions of inward investment at risk?

            The usual old claptrap. And it sounds as insulting as ever. Scaremongering over substance of the highest order.

            I happen to disagree with you. I know that Europe’s share of world trade has shrunk by 35% in recent years, as other regions are expanding theirs.
            .

            • Makroon

              Why don’t you try reading his post rather than yelping at the dog whistle ? Not even Farage is suggesting we leave the single market. Why would anyone want to shut our exporters out of their European markets ?

              • @PhilKean1

                Pathetic.

                It’s like talking to a species from another planet.

                You are saying that America, Japan, China, Iceland, Taiwan and India, along with many other nations, will continue to export to the EU, but Britain, through spite and vengeance, will be barred from doing so?

                That the EU, who have a trade SURPLUS with Britain, as opposed to our very significant deficit, would seek to penalise their businesses to the point where some would go under?

                And Nigel doesn’t want to leave the Federal enabler that is the so-called, “Single Market”? That’s news to me.

                The Single Market IS membership of the EU. It is unrestricted immigration from Europe.
                It is Brussels making the rules. It is Britain prevented from signing autonomous trade agreements.
                It is protectionism. It is common regulation on employee rights. It is common regulatory burdens on UK businesses.
                It is EU taxes. And much more.

      • helicoil

        I stopped watching bbc news yonks ago, it (has) got to the point that it was so predictable – Bash the Tories, Comment on how great Liebour are and the usual “cat stuck in a tree” type drivel. I’ve taken to watching the previous nights sci-fi soap over breakfast.

      • dalai guevara

        Sky have a news channel?

        • Bill Brinsmead

          Yep, BBC 24 is a belated copy. Pretty poor one too given they have 8,000 journalists to call on.

    • Holly

      If you can see the ‘slant’ the MSM put on stuff, so can millions of other people.

      The media often forget (at their peril/in their arrogance) that the public did not suddenly start taking notice. We lived through the Labour years, with all the rubbish, all the hidden, all the ‘lines drawn’/’going forward’ spin, all the lies, smears and all the damage they have done.
      Nothing the MSM can say or do can take away our knowledge of Labour’s sheer uselessness in government, and some of us have had the misfortune of going through the ‘clean up’ more than once.

      Why is it ‘craven cowardice, not to sink to gutter level, like Labour politicians do?
      All I expect from is to fix the mess Labour left, which is not as easy as when Thatcher was PM, because she did not have the same problems with Europe, immigration or so many people, so dependent on the state for their income.
      I wouldn’t say any of them are ‘liked’.

      • anyfool

        It is not sinking to any level refuting lies, the people who graze on news, hear the bits that the channels want them to hear, calling these Labour creatures out is imperative for the Tories to win.
        The narrative that it was not the Labour governments fault and that they were dragged down solely by the banking failures in the US is still a potent excuse for a large part of the electorate.
        They allowed that to take hold with scarcely a murmur, that is craven in my mind, and that was only the start for Labour and its groupies in the newsrooms around the country.
        I don not want someone to like running the country, I want someone ruthless as that is the only way that the country can dig itself out of the hole it is in.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Most lies you cannot refute. If you say I am a paedophile then I cannot refute it. only deny it. I hope you know the difference.

          • anyfool

            On a strict interpretation of the word yes, but how many readers would not get the general meaning.

            • Fergus Pickering

              You mean by a strict interpretation of the words, using words correctly rather than just throwing them about at random hoping some will stick.

        • Holly

          Me & Mr H have had this conversation many times.
          Mr H’s point being the same as yours, only more sweary and with a lot more un-parliamentary language, which would make the ‘punch & Judy’ PMQ’s seem more like Watch with Mother.
          My point being that they should let Labour continue spouting whatever they like, because when the reality on the ground does not match up to what Labour are saying, the public will see them for what they really are….We are just arriving to the point I knew would come, and Labour now look like they have no idea how we got to where we are, and have even less of an idea where we were when they were booted out.

          To dig this country out of the hole Labour dumped us all in, will take more than five years, and with so many dependent on the state for their income, you can only be so ‘ruthless’.
          I do not necessarily want to like whoever runs the country, but I also do not want someone ‘ruthless’ either.
          Having said that, Idiot boy is the last person we need.

          • anyfool

            Hard to disagree putting it that way, but I think the a very large segment of the electorate have had twenty years of unremitting indoctrination it might be naïve to expect a bit of critical thought from some, especially as schools have been a party to it.
            Still I can only hope you are right, the thought that they could get back in, leaves you in despair of the future of the grandchildren.

      • Makroon

        I agree with you. I hear very widespread criticism of the BBC (and not just from disgruntled Tories and UKIPpers). The general public seem to be increasingly critical and cynical about the self-serving ‘public service broadcaster’, not just on the political bias but also on the obvious degradation of quality. Affection is in short supply and the license fee tax resented.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …sounds like you Camerluvvies are going to have to work extra hard to protect your bubble mates, then. You’ve been doing a good job, so far.

    • Makroon

      They have started to put Esther McVeigh on the media a bit more.
      (Crosby’s influence ?)
      They need more straight talking “ordinary voices” to put the case, with more Northern, Scottish and West Midlands accents – and far fewer public school gents.

      • anyfool

        That would greatly help, as long as they do not sound like that wretched woman Rachel Reeves, that strangulated hernia she has for a voice box grates as much as the bilious rubbish she spouts.

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