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Osborne offers optimistic promise to ‘blue collar’ voters

31 March 2014

4:42 PM

31 March 2014

4:42 PM

George Osborne’s commitment today that the Conservatives will fight for full employment in Britain is another way for the Chancellor to make an iconic gesture towards ‘blue collar’ voters who might still feel left behind by Britain’s recovery (he can find a useful guide on other things to do in the pages of today’s Sun). The first was a rise in the minimum wage, long fought over by Conservatives as a measure which could damage employment, but embraced by the Chancellor as a way of showing that the recovery is for the many, not just the few. Today’s commitment in the Chancellor’s speech – which was initially billed as Osborne describing Britain as ‘starting to walk tall in the world – was an attempt to show that walking tall can include those at the bottom as well.

It is another long-term version of the Chancellor’s ‘adopt or kill’ approach (revealed by James in his column in September) to Labour ideas. Ones that have had purchase with voters get adopted, just as Labour has shamelessly pinched Tory clothes in the past too. And in this case, it is an interesting killing of an old Conservative adage from David Cameron’s old boss Norman Lamont that unemployment was a price ‘well worth paying’ for lower inflation. Of course, Osborne hasn’t adopted the full left-wing concept of full unemployment: he told the audience at Tilbury Port that ‘as we learnt again recently – you can’t abolish boom and bust, so attempts past and present by governments to guarantee a job to every person are doomed to fail’.

But Osborne is still setting himself a challenge by saying that a Conservative government would aim to ‘have the highest employment rate of any of the world’s leading economies, to have more people working than any of the other countries in the G7 group – that’s higher than the 73.5 per cent enjoyed by Germany. And this big challenge is a big pitch to those voters who feel left behind by the recovery. The question is whether the Chancellor plans to announce any new policies that will help the government achieve that, so that those voters find that pitch credible.

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Show comments
  • rjbh

    Walking Tall in the World… Just when 1/3 of the country looks like it wants to walk towards Independence, free from the city state of London. Osborne sounds a whole lot more slippery than Alex Salmond.

  • Two Bob

    Yeah yeah yeah and I am going to win the lottery on saturday….

    • Tom Tom

      You must be bookmaking on Royal Mail flotation then

  • Smithersjones2013

    [Yawn] Whoever decided that the Tories should buy that ‘campaigning by numbers for dummies’ kit might have told them that to gain any credibility at all they have to sound plausible.

    This is superficial insincere garbage!

    • Tom Tom

      Chocolate Oranges is the KSF for 2015

  • andagain

    The first was a rise in the minimum wage, long fought over by
    Conservatives as a measure which could damage employment, but embraced
    by the Chancellor as a way of showing that the recovery is for the many,
    not just the few.

    Can you really demonstrate that you care about “the many not the few” by making a policy change that you yourself believe will make some people better off at the cost of people worse off than them?

  • Mynydd

    We have heard Mr Osborne’s optimistic promises before:
    I promise balance the books by 2015
    I promise to maintain our AAA credit rating
    I promise to cut taxes but only after I put VAT up to 20%
    I promise ……………………………….. add your own point.
    Like Mr Cameron (I promise no top-down reorganisation of the NHS) the man is no longer credible

  • Tom Tom

    Thousands of Afghans and Bengalis have heard the call…….

  • goatmince

    What is this, a joke article?
    The minimum wage has long ceased to be a living wage (which was the point at its inception). When did it last rise above inflation?

    • andagain

      If a “living wage” means you get enough money to keep you alive, I might argue that everyone seems to get one. No one seems to be starving in the streets, after all.

      • Mynydd

        Without food banks you would see people starving in the streets.

        • andagain

          Something of an assertion. But even if it were true, the fact remains that they are not starving in the streets.

          If the term “Living Wage” has any meaning, either it is not necessary, or everyone already has one.

          • Tom Tom

            You can get a “Living wage” without working in this Socialist Dystopia

      • Tom Tom

        Housing Benefit at 500% Unemployment Benefit Costs keeps landlords from penury

  • Agrippina

    When challenged by a journo as to his interpretation of full employment he said, according to the DT, “What we mean by full employment,” he explained gently, “is that this is the best place in the world to get a job… To have more people working than any other countries in the G7: that’s my ambition.” In other words: full
    employment. If by “full” you mean not “full” but “some more”.

    He should get rid of the illegals and cheap foreign labour, then he may stand a chance of fulfilling his ambition, if he actually understands the meaning of ‘full employment’.

    • telemachus

      He should get rid of the illegals and cheap foreign labour
      These are the folk who will pay your pension when you grow old

      • saffrin

        They are the people that will keep us from the NHS when most needed.
        Already expectant mothers have been turned away at the NHS door, already filled to the brim with East Europeans flooding into the country taking advantage of free medical services UK residents pay for.

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