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Osborne gets thumbs up from Tory commentators

I gave my verdict last night on the debate between the would be Chancellors. Here are some other verdicts...

Screen shot 2010-03-30 at 08.29.29 Fraser Nelson, The Spectator: "Osborne didn't set the heather alight, but nor did he intend to. His mission was to walk through this minefield without blowing himself up. He had in mind not the journalists, nor even the studio audience, but the audience back home, to whom he pitched his closing remarks directly. “It’s your choice, you will decide” he said – breaking through the ‘fourth wall’ a la Moonlighting. Anecdotally, I hear that a lot of normal voters are saying they were pleasantly surprised that Osborne is not the demonic oik he’s been portrayed as."

Iain Martin, Wall Street Journal: "Osborne had by far the hardest job going into the Chancellor’s debate. He’s under pressure and the expectation was that Cable and Darling would gang up and do him in. They had a couple of early goes, but he stood his ground and got over his early nerves. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is a show that, if it had gone badly wrong for Osborne, could have done serious damage to the Tories election chances. It didn’t go wrong and he emerged stronger."

Benedict Brogan, The Telegraph: "[Osborne's] closing line about it being our choice whether we want to change the country – no bombast or cod appeal – was refreshing. Mr Osborne also scored one of the clear hits of the night by forcing what sounded suspiciously like a surrender from Alistair Darling on the “death tax” to pay for long term care."

Nick Watt, The Guardian: "Cable, who has been widely praised for predicting the recession, was seen as the winner after a bravura performance. In his closing remarks he said: "The Labour government led us into this mess … The Tories presided over two big recessions in office, they wasted most of the North Sea oil revenue, they sold off the family silver on the cheap." To applause, he added: "Now they want to have another turn to get their noses in the trough and reward their rich backers. The Liberal Democrats are different. We got this crisis basically right. We are not beholden to either the super rich or militant unions.""

Martin Kettle, The Guardian: "Osborne, by contrast, started from a low base especially amoing non-Tories. He is seen by focus groups and polls as a little callow, a bit posh and not terribly reliable. So he stood to gain from the debate. Viewers who stayed the course will perhaps have been impressed that he kept going well under pressure."

Sean O'Grady, The Independent: "As the underdog, George Osborne went in to the studio with the least to lose, and he lost it. It must have seemed a good idea at the time, the cut in national insurance paid for by cuts and efficiency savings in the public sector, but the Tory message has been badly muddied by this."

Allister Heath, City AM: "Predictably, the debate’s low point was the one-sided and undifferentiated attack on the financial services industry by all three candidates, including the false claim that Barclays was bailed out by the taxpayer and other factually incorrect statements. All three parties are continuing to propagate envy and hatred towards all those who work in finance with an ultra-simplistic analysis of the causes of the crisis; they also fail to differentiate between those who acted prudently – and those who didn’t, who do deserve to be vilified."

Tim Montgomerie


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