A few choice phrases from Fraser Nelson’s latest piece over at the Telegraph:
George Osborne should be having similar thoughts. His old routine is now failing. The embarrassing truth is that, for all his talk about how you can’t borrow your way out of a debt crisis, he is now trying to do just that. [...]
And this (the bold is mine):
Treasury officials who have worked for both men are struck not by the differences between them, but the similarities. Brown was nicknamed Macavity for his habit of disappearing at the first sign of trouble; Osborne is known as The Submarine, surfacing only a handful of times a year. Both see economics as a game of political chess, each policy designed to outwit the opposition. [...]
Not a way of making the world a better place, then – more a tool to batter what the rest of us can only define as a proxy enemy. For the real enemy is what we live from day to day.
Nelson also points out that:
[...] The political narrative thus detaches from the economic reality. And this is why a Government that is widely regarded as radical, and hawkish on the deficit, is making virtually no economic progress, while running up the debt like there’s no tomorrow.
Even Osborne’s critics cannot deny that, politically, his policy has brought devastating success. He has won the argument on cuts, even though – as the monthly spending figures show – he has hardly made any. [...]
Whilst for Labour the comfort is getting forever colder:
[...] The Chancellor told friends that he expected to be the most hated man in Britain by 2012, but there is surprisingly little hatred. Instead, there is ridicule – and it is largely heaped upon a Labour leader whose skills seem not to extend much beyond solving a Rubik’s Cube in 90 seconds.
Or, indeed, not eating a chocolate orange …
As I sift through Nelson’s piece – as always tightly, pointedly and fairly written (you can tell he worked for a tabloid, can’t you? Nothing better for those with the verbose tendency to write about politics than to have to do so in the context of flashy headlines and tawdry entertainment stories) – I can’t avoid coming to the conclusion that Osborne is actually truly some politician of considerable standing. More adept, perhaps, at the presentational arts than the PR man that is Cameron himself.
What has Osborne – in reality – achieved then? Well. He’s increased the indebtedness of the nation whilst at the same time savaging all manner of social services. “And this is an achievement?” you wonder. Well, yes – mightily so. Because Osborne is a three-dimensional politician who plays the long game. “And what may that be?” you might ask. Why, make it financially impossible – absolutely out of the question – for Labour ever to bring back the socialism by stealth we enjoyed for so many years under the New Labour regime.
Osborne, in his apparent ineptness, has shown himself to be not a son of Blair but a son of Brown. For neither have ever been inept; both are consummate manipulators of the body politic.
This isn’t, after all, a battle between right and left but – rather – between those who would use politics as a tool to do something useful in the outside world – and those who do politics simply to keep the opposition at bay.
The pursuit of power above all is at the heart of Osbornomics. As Nelson so memorably points out in his piece:
[...] Osbornomics: political stardust but an economic placebo.
With one small caveat: whilst the placebo is designed to strategically convince us he’s doing everything he should, in reality it’s there in order for him to have the time to burn all those bridges back to any kind of British socialism. That is to say, on his part it’s not unconscious at all. It’s a deliberate administration of a drug which allows us to die.
And therein my absolute misery this morning.