George Osborne's four laws of political success... as chosen by William Hague
By Tim Montgomerie
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George Osborne was Political Secretary to William Hague from 1997 to 2001. They have been close ever since with Osborne helping Mr Hague write jokes for his old News of the World column.
Last week the Chancellor celebrated his 40th birthday. Unfortunately ConservativeHome's invitation was lost in the post but we have learnt that William Hague gave the 'happy birthday speech' and set out what he described as George Osborne's four laws of political success.
- Law one: Work out, ahead of anyone else, who will be the next leader, stick to them like glue and become indispensable. William Hague remembered how, shortly after he became Tory leader in 1997 this young man appeared in his office, started drafting speeches and before he knew it, a certain George Osborne appeared to be writing all of his speeches.
- Law two: Don't just study your opponent's policies but get inside their minds by studing their deepest moral processes. Anyone who spends time discussing politics with George Osborne knows that he spends enormous energy examining the tactics of colleagues and opponents. One friend of Osborne recently noted that George Osborne had a high regard for John Bercow. Not for the Buckingham MP's beliefs or conduct in the Speaker's chair but quite simply because of his "genius plot" to succeed Michael Martin and the way he executed his plot with meticulous attention to the concerns of the MPs he needed to win over. A focus on character was certainly evident in George Osborne's tactics against Gordon Brown when they faced each other as Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor after 2005. Osborne decided that getting under Brown's skin and exposing his style of politics was as important as undermining his policies. By understanding how Brown operated the Tories were able to anticipate his premiership.
- Law three: If you have to take a risk make it worthwhile. Osborne is more tactical than strategic but when he makes a big move it tends to really matter... running to become MP for Tatton when there was always a risk that Martin Bell might stand again... announcing the abolition of inheritance tax... appointing Lynton Crosby to run Boris Johnson's 2008 mayoral campaign...
- Law four: Don't forget the first law, just because there are two others!
In his speech George Osborne joked that the most important reason for becoming Chancellor was to avoid going down in history as the man who was political strategist to William Hague.