Conservative Diary

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New Spectator editor signals his intention not to shy away from criticising the Tory leadership

Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson takes up his new role as editor of The Spectator next week, but in his final act as political editor of the weekly magazine - which is out tomorrow - he has written a column which is far from friendly towards George Osborne. It would certainly indicate that he will not be afraid to challenge the party leadership and continue taking a robust attitude on economic matters when he tales the editor's chair.

In tomorrow's column, headed "Osborne must address the doubts the City has about his economic credentials", he suggests that the shadow chancellor is yet to win over the City:

"Financiers who attend his soirees grumble that it is all politics and no economics. When asked about economics, I am told, he becomes rather glum and evasive. But when asked about political strategy, his face lights up. There are no specific policies causing the City particular concern, but rather a general impression, which one hears repeatedly in the City, that the soon-to-be-chancellor has no expertise — and not even much interest — in the job he is about to inherit."

Fraser states, as he has done previously, that the next Government will have to make cuts "in the range of 15 to 20 per cent" and say that the party would be well advised to draw-up a worst-case scenario (he adds that shadow chief secretary Philip Hammond is in the early stages of a quiet spending review). He concludes:

"What is unnerving the City is the feeling that Mr Osborne is so focused on the election (he is also the official campaign co-ordinator) that he has not reconciled himself to the harsher truths about his dismal inheritance. If he does not start planning soon, the City frets, his first Budget will do no more than another Labour one would to reduce the deficit. However ill-founded these concerns are, it is time for the Tories to address them."

In our August survey, no fewer than 67% of party members expressed the view that George Osborne should not be both shadow chancellor AND general election co-ordinator.

Jonathan Isaby


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