Political Promise

The First Role of the Dice for Osborne

In Michael Indian on June 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm

By Mike Indian

What must have been running through George Osborne’s mind yesterday?

Watching the Chancellor delivering his inauguration (and emergency) Budget, I’d like to think his mind was filled with the swell of Journey’s classic hit “Don’t Stop Believin'”. That was certainly the overriding theme of this vital first step in the government’s financial plans.

From the avalanche of sums, figures and forecasts, only a few numbers snowball their way into the minds of the public. However, the ominous rumblings at the news that VAT will rise to 20% will be impossible to dismiss. Regardless of the lengthy assurances and united front Osborne attempted to put up yesterday, this single fact looms at the vanguard of a host of concerns over the times to come.

Benefit cuts, a public sector pay freeze and projected departmental cutbacks of up to a quarter, including education.

During the ensuing questions, one in particular stood forward. What are you going to do if you are low-earning public sector worker? In spite of the need to tame our record deficit, Conservative austerity must not penalise the prospects of our best and brightest young civil servants.

Any attempt to sweet of this sour package was always going to be futile. A rise in the personal tax allowance, the re-linking the state pension to earnings and a £2 billion boost in tax credits for poor families are all welcome measures, but pale into insignificance compared to the frugal reality the people of Britain must now face.

Most importantly, at the centre of this Budget lies of the issue of governmental confidence in their gospel. Despite being flanked clearly by Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, there is no escaping the fact that deficit reduction plans have pummelled the Liberal Democrats, and the worse is yet to come. No doubt many Lib Dem MPs will be questioning the wisdom of backing the immediate stringent reductions of the state that the party cautioned against not so long ago.

Regardless of political position, all side are agreed on one fact. This nation is crying out for firm and fair leadership, but this can be only achieved if Clegg carries his party with him on backing this Budget as both a party man and Deputy Prime Minister.

Osborne’s debut Budget is a gamble that the government cannot afford to lose, and they will be praying it isn’t their last role of the dice.

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