George Osborne MP

19 Sep 2013 06:10:30

Today's Tory MPs awayday will be told that the 40/40 strategy is now a 50/40 strategy

By Paul Goodman
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Today's Conservative Parliamentary Party awayday takes place at a mystery location in Oxfordshire - indeed and to be more specific, in David Cameron's constituency, I am told.  Downing Street is presenting it as a chance for the Prime Minister to "listen to the views and concerns of Conservative MPs".  Predictably, Cameron will address the gathering.  Almost as predictably, so will Lynton Crosby.  Break-out sessions on policy will be led by George Osborne, Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove.

Continue reading "Today's Tory MPs awayday will be told that the 40/40 strategy is now a 50/40 strategy" »

28 Jun 2013 07:20:53

Pickes bites back

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By Paul Goodman
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Eric Pickles doesn't mind jokes about his weight.  At least, if he makes them himself.  Or if he's making them about other people.  Or if they're made by people he gets along with.  At a meeting when I was part of his Shadow CLG team, he welcomed Stephen Greenhalgh, the former leader of Hammersmith Council and now Boris Johnson's Deputy Mayor, with a paean of praise, culminating in the highest compliment of all - that "like me, he's nice and fat".

The question is whether or not George Osborne is on the list of people that the Communities Secretary gets along with.  The Guardian has a detailed account this morning of how the Treasury negotiated the spending review, and makes the point that CLG is one of the two departments that was especially helpful (the other was Justice).  But relations between them aren't always as harmonious - particularly over housing and planning.

The Chancellor has been given a rough ride over his burger snap, particularly by the Sun, which seems particularly ill-disposed to him.  Pickles is a master of publicity, and will have known the effect that his tweet would have when he published it.  Osborne is grinning and bearing it - "Nice one, Eric" - he tweeted back yesterday, but the exchanges speak eloquently about how the Chancellor's relationship with some of his colleagues. Were I him, I would lay off the Fat Jokes.

20 Mar 2013 09:10:15

George Osborne's biggest Budget-day decision – he's joined Twitter

By Peter Hoskin
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Forget the personal allowance. Forget the beer duty escalator. Forget capital spending. Only one thing matters on this Budget morn’: George Osborne has done what David Cameron did towards the end of last year and joined Twitter.

The Chancellor has only tweeted once so far (see above), presumably because he has a few things to be getting on with. But he’s already racked up over 10,000 followers. For some reason, I suspect they’re not all friendly.

Although we shouldn’t layer too much analysis over such news, it’s still rather striking that Mr Osborne should join Twitter, and now. Is the Submarine Chancellor finally rising to the surface? Watch this Twitter profile, I guess.

17 Mar 2013 15:24:33

John Redwood and Douglas Carswell worry about banking panic after confiscation of Cyprus deposits

By Tim Montgomerie
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BFgqpVhCAAAoDzI.jpg-largeTory MPs have reacted with concern to the terms of a bailout of Cyprus' banks which will see up to 9.9% of depositors' money confiscated as part-payment for the rescue.

John Redwood has blogged that savers have been "mugged". The unexpected raid on depositors was, he continued, "a great way to encourage the mass migration of savings from weak banks in the Euro area to stronger banks somewhere else." Douglas Carswell agrees. The Clacton MP told the Mail on Sunday that "ordinary Europeans are being fleeced by the Continent’s elite in order to rescue foolish banks." "Why," he asked, "would you risk putting your money in Greek, Spanish or Portuguese banks after this?" ATMs of Cypriot banks have been emptied this weekend by anxious savers. UKIP's Nigel Farage called the bank levy "theft, pure and simple". Eurozone leaders have done little to reassure investors in other troubled parts of the single currency. The Times' Sam Coates Tweeted that Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of group of EZ ministers, "declined to rule out taxes on depositors in countries beyond Cyprus".

George Osborne, meanwhile, has said that British troops and other government workers serving in Cyprus will be compensated for the EU's extraordinary levy. He told BBC1 that for "people serving in our military and serving our government we are going to compensate anyone affected by this bank tax." The Chancellor also used the news to reinforce his argument that deficit reduction must continue. Cyprus was, he said, "an example of what happens if you don't show the world that you can pay your way".

> Our ToryDiary report of George Osborne's BBC1 interview.

2 Mar 2013 12:45:14

We're governed less by professional politicians than we think

By Paul Goodman
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The combination of Eastleigh and Italy have between them unleashed a tidal wave of commentary about the drawbacks of being governed by the professional politics.  Consider Charles Moore's column in today's Daily Telegraph:

"Eastleigh brings out something which more and more voters feel. A quarter of a century ago, when people used to complain in pubs that “they’re all the same”, I used to argue back: it seemed to me patently false. Today, I stay quiet. Nigel Farage says that we have three social democrat parties now. There is a bit of truth in that, but I would put it differently. It is not so much that they all think the same thing. It is more that they are all the same sort of people. They all belong to a political elite whose attitudes and careers are pretty different from those of the rest of us."

Even the briefest inspection of David Cameron and Ed Miliband supports this view.  Miliband has been a full-time political apparatchick since University.  Cameron briefly had a job in television, but not a career: the post was acknowledged to be a waiting room for the Commons, even by his employers.

Continue reading "We're governed less by professional politicians than we think" »

22 Dec 2012 11:12:39

Conservatives dominate the top 20 most mentioned politicians of 2012

By Matthew Barrett
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The annual newspaper index report by Hanover Communications into media coverage of MPs shows that 12 of the top 20 most-mentioned politicians are Conservatives. The index, which measures newspaper coverage over the last year, shows few Labour frontbenchers have media profiles, with only Ed Balls and Ed Miliband featuring in the list.

I list below the top twenty politicians and the number of mentions they received:

  • David Cameron - 18384
  • George Osborne - 9531
  • Ed Miliband - 6211
  • Nick Clegg - 6155
  • Boris Johnson - 3320
  • Michael Gove - 2844
  • Tony Blair - 2694
  • Gordon Brown - 2387
  • Ed Balls - 2201
  • Vincent Cable - 2061
  • Theresa May - 1743
  • Andrew Lansley - 1621
  • William Hague - 1580
  • Jeremy Hunt - 1525
  • John Major - 960
  • Ken Livingstone - 861
  • Andrew Mitchell - 858
  • Nadine Dorries - 857
  • Iain Duncan Smith - 857
  • Ed Davey - 823

Continue reading "Conservatives dominate the top 20 most mentioned politicians of 2012" »

14 Nov 2012 10:59:55

Tory MPs and press wonder why George Osborne promotes gay marriage but does not introduce tax allowance for married couples

By Tim Montgomerie
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Fifteen Conservative MPs have written to The Telegraph this morning, urging the Tory leadership to introduce a tax allowance for married couples. They write:

"The Coalition Agreement commits the Government to bring forward “budget resolutions to introduce transferable tax allowances for married couples,” while allowing the Liberal Democrats to abstain on them. We are now past the half way point of this Parliament and, as Conservative MPs, we are calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that these budget resolutions are put before Parliament as part of the Finance Bill 2013.

Recent research in America has shown that college graduates who become single parents are likely to be less well off financially than those who only complete secondary education, but go on to marry.

We believe that these proposals are a vital weapon in combating child poverty.

The Prime Minister has always kept the promises made in the Coalition Agreement, whether on pensioners’ benefits, such as free bus travel, or on aid spending. We call on him to commit himself to putting these budget resolutions on transferable tax allowances for married couples before Parliament next year."

Analysis by the charity Care and the Centre for Social Justice has shown that a transferable tax allowance is more pro-poor than the Coalition's flagship tax policy of raising the starting threshold for paying income tax. The policy has three additional benefits - it rewards the marriage commitment; it honours a manifesto promise; it brings us into line with nearly every other developed country in the world, where family breakdown rates are less serious.

Continue reading "Tory MPs and press wonder why George Osborne promotes gay marriage but does not introduce tax allowance for married couples" »

26 Oct 2012 06:22:26

Who are Conservative Friends of Israel? A profile of the Conservative Party's most populous grouping

By Matthew Barrett
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Conservative Friends of IsraelConservative Friends of Israel is an influential affiliate group of the Conservative Party which contains perhaps the largest number of Conservative MPs of any group in Parliament. It exists to promote understanding of and support for the State of Israel in the Conservative Party, and its membership reaches the highest echelons of power, including the Foreign Secretary, William Hague. In this profile, I examine its origins, membership, role, and activities.

Origins of the group

Conservative Friends of Israel (CFoI) is the oldest group of Conservative MPs I have profiled so far: it was founded by Michael Fidler, who was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bury and Radcliffe between 1970 and the October 1974 election. After losing his seat, he decided to focus on building a pro-Israel group within the Conservative Party - there had been a Labour Friends of Israel group since 1957 - so Fidler launched CFoI in 1974, and served as its National Director. 

Sir Hugh Fraser served as the first Chairman of CFoI, from 1974. Sir Hugh was a Conservative MP of the old school: after a distinguished military intelligence career in the Second World War, he entered Parliament in 1945, and he missed out on being Father of the House to James Callaghan in 1983 by only a few days. Sir Hugh had an interest in oil and the Middle East and served a number of positions in the War and Colonial Offices, before entering Cabinet as the Secretary of State for Air in 1962. He might be best known to some readers as the outsider candidate who came third in the 1975 party leadership contest, behind Mrs Thatcher and Edward Heath, gaining only 16 votes.

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5 Sep 2012 20:21:19

Full post-reshuffle list of Ministers

By Matthew Barrett
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Following on from the last few days' rolling blogs, I have below a final list of the MPs (and Baroness Warsi) appointed as Ministers for each department. I have put new appointments in bold.

Cabinet Office

  • Minister for the Cabinet Office, Paymaster General – Rt Hon Francis Maude MP
  • Minister for Government Policy – Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP
  • Minister of State – Rt Hon David Laws MP (jointly with the Department for Education)
  • Parliamentary Secretary – Nick Hurd MP
  • Parliamentary Secretary – Chloe Smith MP

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

  • Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills; and President of the Board of Trade – Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP
  • Minister of State (Universities and Science) – Rt Hon David Willetts MP
  • Minister of State – Michael Fallon MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Jo Swinson MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Matthew Hancock MP (jointly
  • with the Department for Education)

Department for Communities and Local Government

  • Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP
  • Senior Minister of State (Faith and Communities) – Rt Hon Baroness Warsi (jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
  • Minister of State (Housing) – Mark Prisk MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Planning) - Nicholas Boles MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Rt Hon Don Foster MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Brandon Lewis MP

Continue reading "Full post-reshuffle list of Ministers" »

5 Jul 2012 17:58:52

Government wins banking inquiry vote as Osborne and Balls have Commons bust-up

By Matthew Barrett
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7pm update: Labour will support Andrew Tyrie's chairmanship of a joint parliamentary committee holding an inquiry into the banking industry. Ed Balls told the House after losing tonight's vote (below):

"The Government has won its vote. The chair of the Treasury Select Committee will now chair a narrow inquiry... On this side we respect the Right Honourable Member and we will work with him. But we have some very real concerns about the membership and the secretariat of that committee, which we hope that he will address."


The debate in the House regarding "professional standards in banking" has just wound down. At stake was a vote on whether there should be a judicial or a parliamentary inquiry into the culture of the banking industry. Labour favours the former drawn-out, Leveson-style inquiry, whereas the Government favours a swift investigation by Lords and MPs, so that any recommendations can be implemented in the upcoming banking reform Bill, which is set to come before the House in the new year. The Government won the vote to reject a judicial inquiry by 320 votes to 239, a safe majority of 81, and then won a second vote to hold a parliamentary inquiry, by 330 votes to 226 votes, an even safer majority of 104.

That all sounds a bit dry compared to the barney which took place between Ed Balls and George Osborne. Mr Osborne made comments to the Spectator which, Mr Balls argued, implied that Balls was involved in the Libor scandal. Mr Balls was incensed with the allegations. He called them "utterly baseless", urged Mr Osborne to "put up" the evidence of any wrongdoing from Balls, or "shut up", and attacked the...

"cheap and partisan and desperate way in which he and his aides have conducted themselves over recent days does him no good, it demeans the office he holds and most important it makes it harder to achieve the lasting consensus that we need"

Mr Osborne did not feel the need to supply an apology. This annoyed Mr Balls even more. He said: "the sight of a Chancellor who says one thing to the press, but can't defend himself in Parliament, is embarrassing to the office." It was a more rowdy affair than most PMQs - there were frequent interventions from the Deputy Speaker, the Tory MP Nigel Evans, as much of the House felt the need to shout at each other.

Continue reading "Government wins banking inquiry vote as Osborne and Balls have Commons bust-up" »

28 Jun 2012 10:00:07

Cameron, Osborne and Tyrie react to Barclays scandal

By Matthew Barrett
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2.30pm Steve Baker MP has called for Bob Diamond, the Barclays CEO, to resign:

"Yes I do think Bob Diamond should resign, and I think more than that - the various authorities should be looking extremely carefully at whether any offences have been committed."

2pm David Cameron appeared on the BBC news channel this afternoon. He said the Government will take more action if more action is deemed necessary:

"In terms of what happens next, I would say that the regulators should use all the powers and means at their disposal to pursue this in the ways that they feel are appropriate. I’d also make the point that this happened some years ago under the previous government with the rules in place with the previous government. We are changing those rules and if there’s more we need to do to toughen that up, we’ll take that actions. We’ve already taken a lot of action to make sure we regulate our banks and financial services appropriately, but if there’s more that needs to be done, we’ll do it."

1pm update:

George Osborne made a statement to the House this afternoon. The Chancellor said that the FSA inquiry into Barclays demonstrates "systemic failures" in the financial system:

"It is clear that what happened at Barclays and potentially other banks was completely unacceptable, was symptomatic of a financial system that elevated greed above all other concerns and brought our economy to its knees."

Continue reading "Cameron, Osborne and Tyrie react to Barclays scandal" »

4 May 2012 06:14:38

What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group

By Matthew Barrett
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My series profiling the backbench groups of Tory MPs has so far mainly featured groups founded or mostly composed of 2010 intake MPs. Last time, I looked at the Thatcherite No Turning Back group, founded in the 1980s. This week's group is somewhere between the two. The Cornerstone Group is the main group whose defining mission is to represent socially conservative Members of Parliament. The group was formed in 2005, and presented some challenges for David Cameron's leadership. In this profile, I'll see how the group is doing now.

Origins of the group

HayesLeighCornerstone was founded by Edward Leigh and John Hayes, who still chair the group. Leigh has been the MP for Gainsborough since 1983, and is a former Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry, who was sacked for his opposition to Maastricht, and John Hayes, who has been the MP for South Holland and the Deepings since 1997, and the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning since 2010.

Cornerstone admired the work done during Iain Duncan Smith's time as leader to promote a more communitarian, Burkean conservatism, and wanted to ensure IDS' work on this front was carried on.

When the group launched formally in July 2005, it released a pamphlet, which criticised Michael Howard's election campaign for being too quiet about tax cuts, public service reform and family values. Strongly condemning the personality politics and liberalism of New Labour, Leigh wrote:

"We believe that these values must be stressed: tradition, nation, family, religious ethics, free enterprise ... Emulating New Labour both lacks authenticity and is unlikely to make us popular. We must seize the centre ground and pull it kicking and screaming towards us. That is the only way to demolish the foundations of the liberal establishment and demonstrate to the electorate the fundamental flaws on which it is based."

The group first exerted its influence during the 2005 leadership contest. A group of about twenty Cornerstone supporters interviewed David Cameron, David Davis and Liam Fox. Fox apparently put in the best performance, while David Davis was, reportedly, not able to take criticism well. This meeting, combined with David Davis' alienating stint as the Minister for Europe under Major, and Davis' reluctance to support Iain Duncan Smith's compassionate conservatism programme wholeheartedly, is thought to be why many Cornerstone supporters first voted for Fox, and then switched to Cameron.

Continue reading "What is the Cornerstone group? Matthew Barrett profiles the socially conservative Tory backbench group" »

7 Mar 2012 17:16:08

"A pinball machine" - George Osborne's verdict on Balls' fuel duty flip-flopping

By Matthew Barrett
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Osborne George treasury qs

Yesterday's Treasury questions was livened up, as it often is, by the exchanges between the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor - Ed Balls. This week, Balls asked his first question on child benefit cuts, a (perfectly legitimate) theme Labour MPs had already asked the Chancellor about. He asked:

"The Chancellor’s policy on child benefit seems to be that a two-earner family on £84,000 can keep all their child benefit, but a one-earner family on £43,000—whether that is a single parent, or where mum or dad stays at home to look after the kids—will lose all their child benefit, which is £2,500 if the family has three kids. What is fair about that? For the benefit of Labour Members, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Justice Secretary, the Prime Minister and Government Back Benchers, will the Chancellor tell the House what is today’s policy on child benefit?"

Continue reading ""A pinball machine" - George Osborne's verdict on Balls' fuel duty flip-flopping" »

21 Dec 2011 07:17:32

Banks should start playing fair with their long standing customers, says Brian Binley to George Osborne

Brian Binley MP has written an open letter to George Osborne, stating that banking reforms should provide banks with the stability and sustainability allowing them to understand the needs of their long standing, and long suffering customers.

Dear George,

The issue of bank reform has dominated public policy discourse intermittently since the financial crash of 2007. It is true that the future prosperity of our economy hangs firmly on the successful rehabilitation of the global financial services sector: but it will impact on more than just raw policy – these decisions will affect the lives of people across our country for a generation.

That is why the proposals announced yesterday – and the mood music generated around them – could have severe and negative implications. Our traditional position as a ‘home-owning democracy’ is imperilled if we allow the message to be communicated that it will become increasingly harder for those who aspire to own their homes to obtain the mortgage that they need to make their dream a reality; and the suggestion that existing home owners may become trapped by their mortgage arrangements is equally invidious.

Continue reading "Banks should start playing fair with their long standing customers, says Brian Binley to George Osborne" »

1 Dec 2011 14:59:41

Tory backbenchers line up to support the Chancellor's Autumn Statement

By Matthew Barrett
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Osborne autumn statementWe reported on the policy content of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement on Tuesday. As well as the content of the Statement, it's worth noting the contributions from Conservative backbenchers in the Commons session that followed it. The Chancellor answered 96 questions in total, so it allowed a large window of opportunity for backbenchers to raise questions or points sceptical of the government's economic agenda - backbenchers could have urged the Chancellor to pursue fiscal consolidation more vigorously, or pressed for a more pro-growth direction, and so on. 

However, backbench contributions were overwhelmingly positive. There were, generally, two kinds of question from Tory backbenchers. The first would be positive about measures announced in the Autumn Statement. For example:

"Brandon Lewis (Great Yarmouth) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the welcome opportunity for private pension funds to invest in infrastructure will also give a good return for those pension funds by unlocking the growth that can come from such infrastructure, particularly in rural areas such as East Anglia?"

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