Coffee House

The speech that revealed what George Osborne believes

28 June 2014

12:39 PM

28 June 2014

12:39 PM

It is a risky business for any serving Cabinet Minister to give a big picture political speech setting out their personal philosophy. It is all too easy for such a gesture to be seen as the start of a leadership bid. This was the fate that befell Theresa May when she made her big speech to the Conservative Home conference 15 months ago.

But last week, George Osborne gave his own credo speech to the Centre for Policy Studies’ Thatcher conference last week. The address, delivered after dinner on the final night of the conference, was the fullest explanation yet of the Chancellor’s political philosophy.

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Osborne is far more of a Thatcherite than he is a Conservative and so he was among friends when he made the speech. There was much talk of ‘raising the standard of liberty’. Indeed, he reminded the audience that he liked the concept of liberty so much that he had named his daughter after it.

But reading the transcript of the speech, what struck me most was its emphasis on foreign affairs and the hawkish tone it struck on the subject. Citing Thatcher and Reagan he declared, ‘against those who say militant Islamism is bound to conquer, we say we believe in liberty’.

With the economy in recovery, Osborne is free to spread his political wings a bit. He can be, as he likes to style himself, ‘the Chancellor who takes the broader view’. So, expect to see Osborne emerge as the champion of liberty and openness over the next 18 months. He will be the tribune of sunny-side up Conservatism.


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  • Andreas S.

    This speech and the attention that Osborne paid to foreign affairs may indicate that he is interested in replacing William Hague as a foreign secretary.

  • Maverick Muezzin

    Not long ago I read, either on CoffeeHouse or elsewhere, that Osborne likes to be where the action is; so if the Conservatives remain in power after the next election, he’d like to move to Foreign secretary. (Handily also increasing his leadership prospects through experience in a second major office of State.)

    Surely it makes more sense to see this intellectual foray into foreign affairs territory through this prism, rather than suggesting he has a cheerful disposition simply for wanting to triumph over militant totalitarianism?!

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    There are some things that are unwritten and unconquerable..that’s the thing about Liberty , i think.But it might be just a place. All that is needed is a world set up to make room accordingly. Only the best could raise that standard of liberty.

  • Roger Hudson

    But Thatcher trampled on liberty, perverting the British police for ever in the process. If she ever read Paine on liberty she learned nothing.

    • Wessex Man

      Surely the important question is did you?

    • In2minds

      “perverting the British police” – And how difficult was that?!

    • Tony_E

      Do you understand what the Police and criminal evidence act actually did to the police.

      They hardly welcomed it.

  • victor67

    Well Osborne and Gove called it right on Iraq did they not?

  • dado_trunking

    I believe Gidiot thinks he bought himself some Northern votes with the announcement of HS3, to be completed in the late 2030s.

    • HookesLaw

      I belive daddy_ trumpalot thinks he is far cleverer than he realy is.

      • dado_trunking

        Leave the dirty work to viceroy – you are no good at this.

      • Wessex Man

        I believe you are a pompous idiot as you prove daily.

  • Pier66

    Great Chancellor!

    • Richard_Spain

      About as great as Brown?

      • monty61

        And for similar reasons – though arguably he did far more damage to the economy in a shorter time (doubling the national debt in 5 years).

      • Pier66

        I think much much better, you can not compare brown with great George

        —-Messaggio originale—-

        Da: notifications@disqus.net

        Data: 28-giu-2014 16.38

        A:

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        Richard_Spain

        About as great as Brown?
        10:38 a.m., Saturday June 28

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        Richard_Spain’s comment is in reply to

        Pier66:

        Great Chancellor!
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  • 15peter20

    ‘Indebtedness is liberty.’

  • Denis_Cooper

    “So, expect to see Osborne emerge as the champion of liberty and openness over the next 18 months. He will be the tribune of sunny-side up Conservatism.”

    And expect to see more pieces puffing him up, when he is only Chancellor because he is a longstanding friend of the Prime Minister.

    Why the Prime Minister should still hold him in such regard may be seen as something of a mystery, given that he did so much to lose the Tory party the last general election by letting Labour off the hook over its gross economic and financial mismanagement; but there is an explanation for that, which is that Cameron was not at all unhappy to end up in coalition with the LibDems, who he could use as an excuse for not doing what his party members and others wanted him to do.

    Just a pity that they blocked the boundary changes he wanted, greatly reducing the chances that his party will get an overall majority at the next election; but then that would also have its advantages, giving him a fresh excuse for not keeping any of his promises about the EU, none of which he really means.

    Which reminds me that the tribal Tory supporter HookesLaw has still not answered the very simple question I put to him a week ago – did he or did he not agree with Osborne’s statement in January 2009 that “Printing money is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed”?

    • In2minds

      So Osborne likes –

      “the concept of liberty so much that he had named his daughter after it”

      Liberty is more than a ‘concept’, let’s see if he likes the practice too and
      stops Theresa May and her Snoopers Charter!

    • Mynydd

      Printing money, say one thing in opposition do the opposite in power.
      Borrowing, say one thing in opposition do the opposite in power.
      Right on Mr Cameron/Osborne.

  • MrsDBliss

    He doesn’t believe in liberty, if so he wouldn’t create tax reforms that are so dead set against the family.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, it’s some kind of weird joke that this socialist poshboy is bleating about “liberty”.

  • Lucy Sky Diamonds

    He hates the countryside. nuff said.

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