Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Why George Osborne should not be named politician of the year

Today, we learn that the magazine GQ has named the Chancellor, George Osborne, as its "Politician of the Year" (see here). The reasons for the award were ""Osborne is like Atlas carrying the coalition's weight on his shoulders. He remains its most important strategist, the lieutenant to whom the PM listens most closely and the man who must save the country from economic perdition".

Unfortunately, these reasons ill-fit several facts. Osborne's silence over the last few months has been striking. Did we see him provide leadership during the Arab Spring? Or during the News International crisis? Or after the London riots? No, but we do hear that we might scrap the 50 p tax - affecting only about 1% of the UK population - given "we're all in it together". Indeed, it was Osborne who allegedly recommended Andy Coulson to the Prime Minister and, thus, tied the government to the NI continuing story (with another arrest made today).

Nor has the Chancellor got austerity correct. Recently, the IMF has called upon the UK to abandon its austerity measures. Look at the great success of countries that took austerity to heart: Ireland and Greece. Now the Chancellor admits his growth forecasts are over optimistic and they require important changes. So why not changes to the rest of his budget plans?

This is only further evidence that the current coalition government is insufficiently evidence-led in its public policy decisions choosing ideology over public interest. This is hardly reason to reward the coalition with awards, but instead reason to demand swift change.

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