Archive for the 'George Osborne' Category


Is George Osborne the answer to Brexit?

Sunday, September 18th, 2016


I didn’t think this would be a post I’d ever write. Anyone who’s followed my posts over the last three years will know I’m not exactly George Osborne’s biggest fan. I felt he turned from being a huge asset to the Conservatives in the opposition years into a Chancellor who cynically viewed his voters and supporters as mere chesspieces – only worthy of narrow tactical calculations that might advance his career – and his fellow MPs as either his vassals or his enemies. Unfortunately for him, too many of his colleagues eventually picked up on it and his conduct during the EU referendum sealed his fate. So I think it was right that he left Government.

Nevertheless Osborne is clearly a very intelligent and clever man: he understands strategy and, when he was Chancellor, I always had a sense the Conservatives had a strategic plan, even if it wasn’t one I agreed with. So, in terms of raw ability alone, in the medium-long term it is hard to conclude that the Conservative frontbench team isn’t weaker without him.

I am now reassessing my previous views and wondering if he could undergo the greatest political rehabilitation since Richard Nixon.


Two things have caused me to change my mind since:

(1) Theresa May. She works hard and likes to personally reflect on difficult decisions for a long time, and to do so in comparative silence – as she did with her decisions on Brexit and Gary McKinnon whilst still as Home Secretary – but being PM is different. You can’t just convince yourself and then issue your orders, as you might within a major Government department. You have to be flexible and quick on your feet, and this is clearly not how she operates. Also, you just don’t have the time: you need someone else to help you stitch your approach to Government all together and do some of the detailed heavy thinking for you. And there’s a huge amount of that to do in the next 3 ½ years.

Theresa May is badly in need of a master strategist

(2) David Cameron. George Osborne was the loyalist of allies. But, whilst Cameron still remained in parliament, I think it was very difficult for him to do anything other than honour his whole legacy. Now David Cameron is leaving, and George Osborne has decided to stay, he has the luxury to reassess. That opens up opportunities for him. However, in order to stage a comeback, he would have to show he’s changed his tune: that he now fully respects all Conservative party members, voters and colleagues and that it’s not his career but the future success of his country that now matters most to him.

Crucially, George Osborne would have to be committed to making Brexit work

The challenge of successfully negotiating a good Brexit deal for the UK is going to be huge. The EU is increasingly firming up and hardening its negotiating position and we need someone who thinks several steps ahead, can anticipate outcomes, moves, and countermoves, and react very quickly. And that person has to be joining up all the dots and plugged straight into the Prime Minister. She’s the one who’ll be going into the negotiating chamber.

Personally, I would sleep much more soundly in my bed at night if I knew George Osborne (having atoned for his sins) was slaving away at it.

Is this fanciful?

In my view, no. If Lord Mandelson and David Davis can return from the political wilderness, then so can George Osborne. He is just too big a talent to remain on the backbenches forever. My view is that it’s a question of when, not if.

I’d be betting on him returning to Cabinet in 2017 if odds were available, possibly as Lord President of the Council and First Secretary of State. However, in the absence of this, I’ve sought value elsewhere.
I was attracted by the 200/1 on George Osborne being PM after the next election with SkyBet. This seems much better to me than the odds on him being next Conservative leader.

My logic for this is that if, for whatever reason, he does return to cabinet, and rehabilitates his reputation, then his odds will move in. If Theresa May does fail, for either political or health reasons, in the next few years then – if he is truly altruistic about it, and he’d have to be – then he might then be in a position to humbly take over, even before GE2020.

And I’d struggle to see a “new” George Osborne losing to Corbyn.

Over to you, George.

Casino Royale



George Osborne, the modern day Winston Churchill?

Thursday, September 1st, 2016


If Brexit does turn out be an economic mistake then could country turn to the man who warned about the risks of Brexit?

We’ve been here before, a charismatic former Tory Chancellor who warned the country and Tory party against a particular course of action, his counsel was ignored, he was exiled on the backbenches whilst his warnings initially proved to be incorrect.

But in the fullness of  time it was proved Winston Churchill was right and the appeasers were wrong, we might see something similar, if like the appeasers, the Brexiteers initial correct assessments make them act in a de haut en bas manner. Hubris will not go down well with the electorate, especially if the Brexit deal proves particularly sub-optimal for the UK economy.

A minor slowdown could be explained away as part of the normal economic cycle, but a longer and deeper recession is probably George Osborne’s best hope of becoming Tory leader and Prime Minister, like Winston Churchill when the country is in need will they call for the man who was proved right? William Hill have George Osborne at 20/1 to be next Tory leader, I’ve had a bet.

I suspect even Osborne’s many critics would agree with the Churchill comparison, after all after Churchill’s first general election as Tory leader, the Tories lost nearly 200 MPs as Labour took power in a landslide.



Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his life

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

These don’t appear to be the actions of a PM confident of winning the referendum

Typo alert – The below tweet I think he means Foreign Sec, I hope



We need to re-think next CON leader betting following Cameron’s rough week on his financial affairs

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

Dave’s successor will have had a much more humble upbringing

One consequence I’d suggest of the past week’s revelations relating to David Cameron is that his successor will come from a very different sort of background. Next time the party will not choose a “posh boy who doesn’t know the price of bread” to use the Nadine Dorries quote.

For the big political damage from this whole affair has been the reminder that the Boris Johnson’s, Osborne’s or Cameron’s experience of this world is something that is alien to the vast majority of people in the country.

Whether the Prime Minister was involved in a tax avoidance scheme or not is almost irrelevant – the big problem for him is that it reminds us of his background.

So I would suggest that we can now rule out Boris Johnson and George Osborne from the next Conservative leadership race.

Looking around this could enhance Theresa May’s chances as well as Sajid Javid’s. It could also help the big mover at the moment Michael Gove who topped the latest ConHome member next leader survey.

Other possibilities with back stories closer to John Major than David Cameron are newly promoted Stephen Crabb and Liz Truss. I got 150/1 on the latter on Betfair yesterday.

At the right price all the names highlghted are worth a punt.

Mike Smithson


Betting on Osborne’s next Cabinet job

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Billy Hills Ozzy market

Should you be betting on George Osborne going to the Foreign Office?

After a sub-optimal fortnight for George Osborne, William Hill have a market up on George Osborne’s next Cabinet job. I think backing the 5/2 on him as next Foreign Secretary might be the best option. I suspect after the referendum (assuming a Remain victory) David Cameron will have a reconciliation reshuffle and move Osborne out of Number 11.

Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary are the only jobs that won’t be considered demotions for Osborne. Philip Hammond looks less immovable than Theresa May, who will soon be beginning her seventh year as Home Secretary, a role which previously had become a political graveyard. So on that basis I’m taking the 5/2 on Osborne’s next job being Foreign Secretary.

If you think Osborne’s next role will be PM, then you’re better off backing him on the next PM/next Tory leader markets elsewhere, where you can get better odds than the 9/2 William Hill are offering in this market.



It now feels when in 2016 not if Osborne departs as Chancellor

Monday, March 21st, 2016



Why Labour has its concerns about the Tory turmoil

Monday, March 21st, 2016


Donald Brind says a big REMAIN victory remains the objective

They do things different in Battersea. The local Labour party invited along the Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn for a fundraising fish and chip supper to launch the formal start of the London election campaign. Then they promptly turned the lights out.

The environmentally savvy Battersea Labourites were taking part in Earth Hour a an international initiative that encourages “individuals, communities households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour as a symbol for their commitment to the planet”. The hour fell right in the middle of the fundraiser

Benn happily performed and received what he said was his first ever candlelit standing ovation.

Benn is spearheading the Labour Remain campaign along with Alan Johnson and he provided an eloquent statement of the case for membership for EU membership. As well as talking about jobs and living standards he recalled visits to the war graves in northern France. He made passing reference to Iain Duncan Smith, toasting the former Work and Pensions Secretary’s friendly fire on Tory economic policies, which will provide material for thousands of Labour leaflets and press releases.

The following day Benn’s colleague, the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell on Radio Five and Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham on Sky sought to switch the focus to the Chancellor George Osborne. McDonnell called for him to “scrap the budget and start again” and Burnham said “It is the Chancellor who should be considering his position today” – code for resignation.

    Labour expected the referendum to cause trouble for the Tories but they can hardly believe their luck at how much damage has been done so quickly – even if there is caution over the first poll lead since Jeremy Corbyn became leader.

At first glance it might be expected that Labour would want the Tory turmoil to continue as long as possible – up to and beyond the referendum date. That might mean the perfect result for Labour would be a narrow victory for Remain, guaranteeing months, if not years, of Tory strife.

Hilary Benn’s Battersea speech dispelled such calculations. It was clear that he believes the largest possible margin for Remain is profoundly in the national interest.

Most Labour MPs won’t share platforms with the Tory Remain campaigners – to do so would be counterproductive in winning over Labour supporters and getting them to turn out and vote. But they are on the same side of the argument as Cameron and his Cabinet allies. There is dismay at the impact of the Budget fiasco on credibility of the Tory Remain campaign.

Osborne is damaged goods. There may have been an element of ritual about the call for his resignation. But that will become a more urgent demand if he continues to be a liability to the campaign for continued EU membership.

So Cameron’s role will be more crucial than ever and he will need even greater support for Labour than he envisaged. The is both a challenge and an opportunity for Labour. It is in the party and the country’s interest that Benn et all don’t fluff it.



The Tories are very lucky the Lib Dems didn’t accept George Osborne’s coupon deal

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

British politics today might have been very different if the Lib Dems had accepted Osborne’s deal

The Mail on Sunday are serialising the memoirs of David Laws, the former Liberal Democrat cabinet minister, in it he reveals that

The Tories secretly tried to form a 2015 Election pact with the Lib Dems to keep the Coalition going, according to David Laws.

He says George Osborne proposed a so-called ‘coupon election’ deal with the Lib Dems, whereby up to 50 Tory MPs would have been written off, ordered to make way for Lib Dems.

If the deal had gone ahead, Clegg would still be in Downing Street in a ‘Coalition Mark II’.

And it would have made David Cameron’s outright victory last May impossible. Osborne told Laws: ‘We should be thinking of a deal in 2015 where we don’t fight each other in our key seats… a ‘coupon Election’.

‘We wouldn’t stand in places like Taunton and Wells and you wouldn’t stand in some of our marginal seats.’

Laws and Clegg turned the deal down because the Lib Dems would be seen as Tory ‘lapdogs’ – and it could spark a ‘riot’ among Lib Dem activists. Laws’ account confirms rumours in 2011 and 2012 that Cameron and Osborne wanted a Con-Lib pact to avoid defeat.

Right-wing MPs claimed it was a Downing Street plot to merge the two parties and water down traditional Tory policies. No 10 denied such a move had been made.

The term, ‘coupon election’, dates back to 1918 when Coalition leaders Lloyd George and Bonar Law regained power by using coupons to endorse coalition candidates.

The Lib Dems might think in hindsight they should have taken the deal and ended up with around 45 MPs instead of the 8 they currently have, but Laws is right, the Lib Dems would have been portrayed as Tory lapdogs for a generation.

What this coupon deal would have done is energised a lot of the non Cameroon Tory right to defect to UKIP, from the Parliamentary party to the voluntary party as it would have confirmed their worst fears about Cameron and Osborne. Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless wouldn’t have been the only Tory MPs who defected to UKIP in the last Parliament. I’m fairly certain this deal would have seen UKIP end up with more than just one MP at the last general election. This deal would have also upset and annoyed  Tories activists and members in the Lib Dem held seats the Tories were hoping (and did gain) in 2015.

George Osborne’s reputation is at an all time low, stories like this, how he nearly denied the Tories a majority, prevented the Lib Dem wipe out and boosted UKIP will not help his reputation recover. Even if he denies it and says it is a Lib Dem fantasy, you can believe it is something Osborne would have offered.