Conservative Diary

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Peter Oborne and Matthew Parris shower praise on George Osborne


Two of the biggest conservative commentators have reached exactly the same conclusion this morning: George Osborne has been vindicated by events.

Matthew Parris in The Times:

"George Osborne’s speech to his party conference in Birmingham a year ago merits re-reading. That speech, together with David Cameron’s grim emergency opening statement warning of the severity of the crisis, stands out amid the routine noise that most political conferences are composed of. There are speeches that make an immediate splash, then sink, unremembered. Mr Osborne’s made no great splash, but seems to resurface, and with added cogency, whenever we update the economic news. It looks truer and truer as the months pass."

Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail:

"Osborne had the courage to say Brown was wrong and stated that, if elected to power, the Conservatives would cut back this country's out-of-control national finances.  Predictably, he was immediately mocked by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who accused him of 'economic madness'. Chancellor Alistair Darling chipped in and warned that Osborne would inflict 'long-term damage on the essential fabric of the country'.  In addition, the Financial Times (a newspaper which backed Neil Kinnock in the 1992 election and his financially profligate manifesto) loftily called for Osborne to be given a 'reprimand' and went on to argue that 'the case for fiscal action (i.e. increase the public deficit to help "pump prime" the economy) is getting stronger'.  The fashionable Left-wing economist Will Hutton then announced that 'Cameron and George Osborne have regressed to simple anti-state budgetary conservatism at just the wrong moment'... Faced with this onslaught, Osborne initially looked terribly isolated. He confided to colleagues that he feared his realistic - yet tough - comments about the state of the British economy could have lost the Tories the next election.  There were also bitter critics inside the Conservative Party who predicted he could lose the Shadow Chancellorship and be replaced either by his deputy Philip Hammond or William Hague. But slowly Osborne began to win the argument..."

ConservativeHome said as much in March.

In complete contrast Simon Heffer uses his Saturday column in The Telegraph to launch another personal attack on George Osborne:

"The Tories, meanwhile, because they are directed by the findings of focus groups rather than by anything resembling a leadership, still bleat on about not cutting the NHS or, preposterously, the entirely wasteful and pointless overseas aid budget. Presumably little George wants to be helpful to corrupt despots of the sort that he meets on his boating holidays. Even Vince says that every department must be scrutinised for savings: the Tories don't get this and, by having George as the next Chancellor of the Exchequer, don't see that sorting out this mess is going to require the mind of somebody radical who doesn't need a map to tell him how to tie his shoelaces."

There are legitimate criticisms of George Osborne but Simon Heffer needs to rise above the level of playground abuse.

Tim Montgomerie


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