george osbourne

I’ve given the coalition a decent settling in, so now’s the time to take a reading on how I feel about them.

Top line right now is – worried. The early promise of a heathy debate and balanced view is being hijacked by… well by George Osbourne really.

Exactly as with invading Iraq, the destruction bit was relatively straight forward. Its reconstruction that’s the real challenge. Everyone knew that radical cuts were necessary. We didn’t have a plan for rebuilding Iraq (and look at the consequences) and to no one’s real surprise we’re not seeing any plan to rebuild the economy now.

And NO, ‘the invisible hand’ really doesn’t cut it.

It pays to be wary of your own prejudice, but I can’t think of many reasons not to cheerfully admit to just never having liked Mr Osbourne, or more importantly trust his judgement on our economy in the slightest. Maybe its just the slightly rodent-like face, perhaps the slightly vampiric, oxblood lips, or it that lurking sneer never far beneath the surface?

It doesn’t help at all that some people believe his main qualifications are:

  • a close friendship with the manipulator-in-chief’s offspring, James Murdoch
  • an eagerness to take on THAT job (while everyone else takes a step back)
  • Anyway, sheer unreasoning prejudice is clearly no basis for judgement – so lets move on.

    I’m pretty amazed that almost every policy/budget announcement recently has been about taking away support for the less advantaged – without any attempt to announce something to offer some balance.

    The aggressive approach apparently rests on precedent, from Sweden and Canada, who as far as I can understand, didn’t go half as far and still considered it dangerously radical, while also having strong export market potential to support growth. They were also very careful to announce unambiguously positive actions, like INCREASED funding for universities etc.

    Our main export market is Europe, please consider carefully. People like Krugman, Hutton and Obama think this is risky – and risky is what we are trying to get away from.

    Another argument is that ‘the markets’ will be reassured by this. Let me just pause here to stuff my lungs back in. We can only guess that this was the argument used by Mervyn King to convince Clegg.

    Using ‘market sentiment’ as a justification for anything really sticks in the craw after what they did to us (to me, to my family, to the world).

    ‘The markets’ are a mindless reactive hive phenomenon whose sheer irrationality and Heath Robinson complexity defies any prediction. They are motivated by an endless desire for gouging profit not stability.

    So, OK, if the UK looked as if it might become a lame duck, then the markets would certainly chase it down with no thought for the social destruction – to win some bucks by betting against our wellbeing. And of course then congratulate themselves on how well they are helping the economy stay healthy by punishing poor management, blah, blah, bonus, bonus, blah.

    This is no time for brinkmanship, if they’re going to go after anyone in Europe lets make sure its not us, fair enough.

    I guess this suggests two things. First, that as far as I can tell, a growing number of people don’t believe that we’re in that much danger of attack – so seriously, think this through carefully and ideally, come up with a little evidence.

    Second, only a suicidal dummy sits passively while a slavering sociopathic maniac (that’s the financial system and all it’s agents – in case you missed that) holds a gun to their head.

    Now on the plus side, we do have the recently ennobled Lord Nat Wei (ex McKinsey Consultant, dubbed ‘seven brains’) who’s leading the ‘Big Society’ charge.

    Way hay! This is it! This is the big reconstruction job we need!

    Is it just me, or are other people shit-scared that a dangerously over-intellectual, clearly ravenously ambitious young turk, with precious little experience outside of the famously aggressive ‘a Harvard Business School theory for everything’ destroyer of company morale, McKinsey, is our sole hope?

    A Big Society Bank is a great idea. I’ve blogged about the general idea before. Dear God, please don’t think that just setting up a new Post Office account will do anything. Please don’t start piggybacking all the fringe pet project ideas anyone can find onto it.

    What is needed, across the board, in all industries is a truly competitive market. With no cartels, no ‘too big to fail’, no ‘magic circles’. Its easy to tell what a competitive market looks like – customer’s are given broad choice and no-one feels safe in assuming they will be walking away with massive bonuses.

    That is the purpose of a ‘Big Society Bank’- fundamentally to challenge other banks by aggressively innovating on the customer’s behalf. It needs strong regulatory support, to allow innovation, to prevent it immediately turning into just another bank, with slightly more explicit government support. I could go on… but…

    My biggest concern, pre election, was that whatever party got in – the ‘easy’ job of deconstruction would power ahead with all the ruthless efficiency of a nuclear device, without the necessary balance of reconstruction. And so far, that’s exactly what this looks like.

    At this rate, I predict that the country will endure an unnecessarily harsh austerity period, and emerge slightly behind our competitive set of countries having experienced nothing more positive than, roughly, the same level of growth as is organic in our main markets.


    Tues 22nd

    We’ve had the emergency budget now, and do you know what…? I think he handled it well. Clear personal support from Clegg & Cameron whose presence inadvertently reveals what their concern must have been.

    Still not my favourite political bunny – but you can’t deny that’s its a tough brief.

    I should try to refrain from cheap shots in future!