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George Osborne Chancellor of the Exchequer - you are a Fraud

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 9 October 2012

George Osborne is once again the hero of the Tory press. But the press has got it wrong. The man is a fraud and not a very nice one at that. The acclaim comes from his promise to slash welfare spending by £10 billion as part of his work to tackle the deficit. But there are just so many holes in this thesis that it is hard t know where to start.

Instinctively I winced as he heard the plans. Osborne is targeting groups that are unpopular. Think of large families what do you think of? Overwhelmingly we are talking here of families from the Indian sub continent and Africa or perhaps you think of feckless single mums with kids by multiple partners. There is a wolf-whistle to Daily Mail readers element to this speech I found unpleasant. Almost nasty.

I doubt that £10 billion will be cut. Promises are one thing. Anyone can make them. Just ask Nick Clegg. Action is another. What Osborne’s cheerleaders in the press miss is that £10 billion is not enough. Even if he makes those sort of cuts this Government will still be spending more than the last one and the deficit will still be the largest in the EU next year.

Britain is hurtling towards a Grecian balance sheet and £10 billion makes no difference. To save the UK from bankruptcy within a decade, the Chancellor needs to be cutting Government spending not by £10 billion but by closer to £100 billion. Osborne is seeking to keep Middle England happy by pretending he is tackling the deficit by targeting groups he knows to be unpopular. But he knows that to save Britain he would actually have to go far further and start hurting nice folks, like those retiring at 65 when they should not retire until 77 and those middle class mums who pick up child benefit.

As if Osborne’s pretence was not bad enough, the IMF yesterday cut its estimate of 2012 UK growth forecasts from 0.2% to minus 0.2%. That means that George’s forecasts for tax receipts will be wrong. And wrong by a good chalk. Which, in turn, means that the deficit this year and next will be larger than expected.

A nasty speech has played well in the Tory press and probably in Middle England too. But Osborne has actually promised little and in real terms delivered nothing. He is a fraud.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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