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Let's not be too hasty, most people won't have digested the full horror of National Rock yet. Also there is scope for a rather atrocious narrative to follow for Labour, as doubtless there will be a few nasties in the Budget in a few weeks time and then there is the paycut that a large chunk of people will notice from April as a result of the fake tax cut in the last Budget.

34% for that shower! It is alot!

The Tories need to counter this continued Labour bragging of how (by wasting our money) they have so many more of this and that than in 1997.

First, any cabbage can spend tax payers money. That is no achievement. The achievement is the RESULT....and when one looks at them...well, they have wasted our money.

Second, any govenrment can achieve growth in numbers over 11 years....it would be Third World basket case if that did not happen.

Third, is it not a bit tired harping back 11 years...did the Tories still talk about 1979 in 1990? No- because the achievements were obvious.

Time to attack these morons on their lies and misinformation.

"... disappointing week for George Osborne".

Well, not in quite the same measure as Marie Antoinette's "bad quarter-of-an-hour", but he was whiningly poor in replying to the Ministerial statement.

Either he ups his game considerably (voice-training?), or he has to be re-deployed (arts and kulcha?).

Osborne should be Party Chairman.
He's suited to a political job.
We need someone with a few more grey hairs as shadow chancellor.

Simple answer: Michael Fallon for Shadow Chancellor.

As Robert Peston said, the Rock disaster will show when mortgage rates are forced up as they try to offload their lending book and downsize. That is when Joe Public will see what all this means by the only way possible- through his pocket.

Talking to ordinary people, they do understand far more than the polls suggest about this whole affair and they certainly do not hold the Government blameless.

If only the Opposition would show real anger and passion about everything that is going wrong .....

I disagree with this lust for the head of George Osborne. Firstly the idea that moving a high profile member of the shadow cabinet would not result in bad headlines of the 'Tory split' variety is naive. Secondly although the idea of replacing Osborne with a greyer head is superficially attractive I think the people mentioned bring dangers in terms of opening up lines of attack that Osborne has closed down. Admittedly it puts Osborne in a slightly inelegant position for the time being but I think that is far more acceptable than the damage that could be wrought by a figure who would be marginally more acceptable to those who think that tax cuts are an ends and not a means. Finally moving Osborne would be to fall into what I would call the England football team trap of fielding a collection of your strongest players rather than a strong team. In politics there is a lot of merit in having a bit of depth rather and having a few people on the backbenches who can prepare the ground in the way that a Shadow Cabinet member cannot.

Simple question: in government does anyone think that Osborne would do the job even half as well as Redwood?

But, ACT, we wouldn't get into Government with John Redwood as our economy spokesman.

He'd frighten every floating voter into Brown's arms.

I note from Mike Smithson, that the Conservatives lead Labour 45/35% on the "forced choice" question.

James Burdett, I agree with your well argued analysis, in particular the footie comparison.
Osborne is a bit like the goalkeeper at the moment, a round of applause one week and derided the next, but overall a solid member of the team who will never get the plaudits that others might simple because of the brief he holds.

Sorry ChrisD, it's more than that. I have always suspected Osborne is in the wrong job, but agreed to shut up about it after the turnaround of Sept/Oct 2007. Moving him then probably would have been more trouble than it's worth and one could hardly do so after the IHT proposals.

But it very much still on the agenda.

This poll - let's hope it's right - still gives us an opportunity to move him whilst we're still ahead. He's simply not credible and it could cost us power in a close election.

'Osborne is a bit like the goalkeeper at the moment, a round of applause one week and derided the next, but overall a solid member of the team who will never get the plaudits that others might simple because of the brief he holds.'

Nonsense. The shadow chancellor should look ready to step into the main job at a drop of a hat. His performance is simply not good enough. Fallon 4 Chancellor.

I would agree with you James Burdett that the full extent of the Northern Rock debacle have yet to be felt. But I also have sympathy for Alan S's viewpoint. Is Osborne too young and too overtly political for this job. Chancellors need to be reassuring figures which is why Howe,Lawson & Clarke worked and so for a while did Brown. Is Osborne? I don't think so. He would make a good Party Chairman though.

I would reiterate that there are significant dangers in moving Osborne, I would also reiterate my point about having backbenchers to prepare the ground. I would add to that that the politics of economics is to argue into the prevailing mood not against it. The mood until recently has been that the government has handled the economy well. Conservatives have known diffently but the dog wouldn't hunt because it didn't chime with people's perception. That perception may change over the next few months, which will be the time to advance the arguments. Osborne instinctively understands the politics involved in this in a way that none of the alternates that people throw up do. The arguments will come when they will work and not before, that to me seems sensible. I wouldn't have thought that destroying your political credibility simply to satiate some people's desire for an economic argument that will not play at the moment would be a senisble strategy.

I hope they learn a lesson from this.

Cameron and Osborne indulged in shameless hyperbole which served only to make them look opportunist and shallow. Being measured on occasions like this may require more restraint but is invariably the better political option, particularly when there is a credibility gap to be closed on competence in any event.

"Osborne instinctively understands the politics involved in this in a way that none of the alternates that people throw up do

"I wouldn't have thought that destroying your political credibility simply to satiate some people's desire for an economic argument that will not play at the moment would be a senisble strategy."

James, you make the two most important points with those comments. I think that sometimes George Osborne's political strategy is one step ahead of events and that sometimes skewered the debate.

Brown's record for economic competence is at stake, combined with that of the chancellor he chose to follow him into No11. Brown has based his whole argument of stewardship of the Labour party and the country on his economic record. It is Osborne's job to dismantle that myth.
Cameron rather cheekily told Blair that "he was the future once", and Blair managed to smile at that.
With Brown and Osborne, its personal and its going to get nasty so anyone with a queasy stomach should look away. I am not sure that some of the able economic heads put forward by some posters would have the character to take Brown on in a bear knuckle political fight. Anyone who has followed Brown's career will know that he does not do nice when it effects his ambitions.

"With Brown and Osborne, its personal and its going to get nasty so anyone with a queasy stomach should look away. I am not sure th...."

That's the way for us to lose.
It's not about having a queasy stomach. It's about being credible and trustworthy - like Michael Fallon or Dominic Grieve.

(Phillip Hammond is very intelligent - and sound on economic matters aswell with lots of good ideas, but is constrained.)

We've got better people - why have Osborne?

Mr Broughton - "We've got better people - why have Osborne?"

I would say that we have other people, not necessarily better or worse. That is a good thing. Why have Osborne, well quite simply because I just don't buy that anyone else would have us snapping at Labour's heels on the economy, most of the people that get mentioned are quite simply a lot less subtle than Osborne.

Of course, most ministerial posts need competence but few need it more than the Chancellor's job. It would help if George Osborne had some relevant experience for the job but, as far as I know, he isn't either an economist nor has he been a businessman.

He is a powerful political animal and I want him on my side - but not as Chancellor.

I know that people worry that John Redwood would frighten the horses but I think that he would run rings around Alastair Darling on a regular basis and would by now have demolished Gordon Brown's self-professed reputation as a prudent Chancellor.

If not Redwood, then Fallon with Redwood in his team. The time to change is soon, so they could bed down and get on top of the new brief well before a GE.

Osborne played a master stroke with his IHT promise but he is not winning the day-by-day arguments and that is now seriously weakening us.

I don't think this is about Osborne at all.

The problem is that when Cameron and Osborne appeared on monday it was blatantly about a desire for what would be best for the Conservative party (i.e Brown is to blame totally for Northern Rock and dithering since credit crunch) however people don't care about what is best for the conservative party. In fact Labour's spin doctors to my mind have done a brilliant job of limiting potential damage caused by Northern Rock.

Beyond Brown's incompetentence in setting up the regulatory framework and his encouragement of high levels of debt across the economy and of course general dithering, some of the northern rock board appeared to be friends of Labour (Wanless certainly, Applegarth?) that smells and I would have thought there is somthing there at least to say that Brown's judgement in people is so poor that his friends caused the only run on a bank in 150 years.

I believe people will see the Northern Rock Nationalisation as a disaster only if every time there is a shortage of equipment for troops or a maternity ward being closed down or a another violent criminal being released early (due to lack of places) is equated with £100BN being wasted to prop up Gordon's poor judgement and incompetent friends.

That needs to now be the focus not navel gazing about whether Osborne has had a nice week or not.

There is great difficulty in handling a matter as personal to voters as Northern Rock, yet politics is also about knocking opponents down when they are making a mistake. I wouldn't be too hard on Cameron and Osborne for trying to weaken the chancellor in the eyes of the public. Quite frankly the chancellor deserves it for being so foolish, he is slapping a great bill on the taxpayer, he deserves the brickbats.

"most of the people that get mentioned are quite simply a lot less subtle than Osborne. "

I find subtlety and Osborne a difficult association to make, and certainly not borne out by any of his Commons performances. Neither has there been much 'snapping at Labour heels' from Osborne, for the economic troubles currently facing Labour have been in the making for several years, yet there has been precious little 'snapping' going on, in fact Gordon Brown went to his coronation without Osborne laying a glove on him, for the Conservatives had made the economy a no go area having parked it by 1/ bought into Labour's spending plans, 2/ having a policy of 'sharing the proceeds of growth' and this was all Osborne’s doing,

So no subtly, no snapping, no debate, no holding the Labour Government to account, and this in the most important policy area for a party aspiring to be the Government. I am sorry its just not sustainable, as such the Conservatives have to do something about it, lest it burry their chances at the next election.

The LibDems have clearly not benefitted from their response to the Northern Rock crisis.

I don't think Cameron and Osborne work as number 1 and number 2. They just look like a pair of idiotic management consultants. Why not do a job swap with William Hague? Maybe the Foreign Affairs brief would help Osborne acquire some hidden gravitas. Even if he didn't, I can't see him being shown up against David 'pillock on his gap year' Milliband. Then Hague can get Alistair Darling to chew on.

I'm surprised at the extent of this underestimation of George Osborne. His announcements at the Party Conference saved us from potential disaster last autumn. The idea that he is a liability is preposterous.
I agree with James Burdett. Removing him as Shadow Chancellor with someone of the pre-Cameron mould would give a very bad impression and simply play into the hands of our opponents.

John Redwood has one major asset over and above his intellect, his commercial sense and the fact that he has had to make money rather than feel the comfort of a family trust behind him. He no longer aspires to lead the party. As such, he would be ideal for the role of DC's Chancellor in circumstances where the role cries out for a ruthless custodian of the nation's finances who understands the ordinary voter's tax burden. His blog entries on Northern Rock are and should have been essential reading for our front bench and Treasury spokesmen. George Osborne's talents may be better deployed as party chairman.

(I posted this on the Northern Rock thread earlier. I doubt very much that there is a risk of "frightening the horses" if JR became Shadow Chancellor - it's not as if he's going to be threatening to tax the rich until the pips squeak. The message we most need - a simpler, fairer tax regime and less waste - is one that JR would be ideally suited to get across and it would sound far more convincing than "sharing the proceeds of growth".)

Osborne is a political speech writer, not a Chancellor.

David Cooper - The idea John Redwood would not inspire 'lurch to the right' headlines and be seen as a retrograde step is ridiculous!

George is not a potential Chancellor, but he has been a fairly good Shadow Chancellor.

Not great - but good.

Fallon or Redwood would be a joke.

My Fanatasy Shad Cab just after DC won the leadership race had Hague as Shadow Chancellor because I thought he would do a great job of making Brown look clumsy at PQs and that would become great theatre and get on the news, more than DC/TB.

That would have given us a head start when Brown took over and restricted his honeymoon. That was so short lived because of Brown's dithering that it really doesn't matter.

However, those of us who knock on doors and talk to real people on a regular basis will know that the reason why the numbers are sticking around these figures is that the public is still pretty disinterested in politics, they still think we're all the bloody same and they are still wary of us because of the relentlessly negative publicity we have had for about 15 years.

It will take another year at least and the steady drip, drip of consistent, considered, thoughtful and humane policies being announced and talked about for people's confidence to return and their support to solidify. That needs to happen and the policies need to be bored into people by constant repetition.

Labour have lost the next election, but we still have to do the job of winning it. People are now ready to listen, we are back on the menu, but there is still too much advertising speak and too much of an attitude which says, "oh, we announced that last week, what are we going to announce this week?" We need five key policy planks and we need to keep repeating them until we are bored to death of them, because - as the old saw goes - about that time, the electorate will just about be starting to hear them.

"Osborne is a political speech writer, not a Chancellor."

No, he's a political strategist.

Personally, I don't actually buy the argument that this has somehow backfired on us (a) because we will only see the effects in the long term, and (b) Labour's reputation for economic competence is clearly melting away.

Agree with you on that point Sean. As I have said before this week, we have simple had the nationalisation of NR headline, but we have yet to live with the reality of this decision.

If not Redwood, then Fallon with Redwood in his team.
Surely an alternative would be to make John Redwood Shadow Home Secretary and put David Davis in as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and have George Osborne as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I've said it before, I'll say it again. George Osborne is a major liability for Cameron as Shadow Chancellor. I'm sure he is a good friend and a good strategist and he may very well eventually develop the kind of gravitas required in a Chancellor, but he absolutely, manifestly and bloody well obviously doesn't have what it takes right now. This is extremely serious and extremely dangerous.

Cameron HIMSELF is relatively young and experienced -- his number #1 problem is that some people regard him as a "boy", not tough enough, not seasoned enough to be prime minister.

This is exacerbated by having Osborne, who has never had a a real job, as Shadow Chancellor.

Cameron MUST replace him and soon, but only in the context of a great reshuffle because Osborne should not be sidelined. He should, indeed be Party Chairman and electoral coordinator and #1 confidante but we need someone more scrappy as Chancellor.

Probably William Hague. (Obviously not Redwood, people who say that aren't serious).

Goldie - I entirely agree with you.

I'd prefer Michael Fallon or Dominic Grieve than Hague. (yes Redwood - however unfairly - would scare off floating voters).

But the central point is the same - Osborne is a major credibility problem for us. I can't measure exactly how many votes it could affect, but not having a chief economic spokesman with credibility is extremely dangerous.

Cameron HIMSELF is relatively young and experienced
David Cameron is experienced - as a PR man, that is the problem, he has little experience in practicalities of administration and dealing with national problems. Even most new party leaders in the past have even if they haven't had ministerial experience have generally had years in parliament on the backbenches, even if you look back at the Labour leaders up to Clement Attlee they had practical experience in wars or in local government; IDS was an Army Captain, former businessman and had been a senior backbencher for years before even entering the Shadow Cabinet. Neil Kinnock had been on Labour's NEC and had been in the thick of political arguments for years.

David Cameron was mainly involved in drafting speeches, presentation of documents - Tony Blair before becoming Leader of the Opposition had been a barrister and been an MP for a number of years. David Steel before becoming Liberal leader had successfully drafted and brought through some private members legislation.

It's nothing to do with their age, but rather the sort of experience they have had. Mostly what experience David Cameron and George Osborne have had has been since October 2005.

Osborne's not bad.
"If only the Opposition would show real anger and passion about everything that is going wrong ....."
He does do that and this IS politics .

What is of most concern is that the Conservatives are only 6% ahead in the polls . They need to open up a new front and that has to be actioned by ending the self denying ordinance and adressing the English Question and declaring for an English Pariament within a federal United Kingdom .
There is huge mileage to be had here . The knowledge within England that England is discriminated against is now widespread . So far there has been generally dull resigned acceptance that it will go on though it is hated .
The Conservatives need to capitalise on this in the same that they capitalised on the inheritance tax situation . They need to put forward NOW a fully thought through plan to implement a Scottish style pariament and government for England and talk and act on the assumption that it is logical , fair and the way out of the present staleness ( and lets face it , perceived decadence) of the British government .
With the successful Scottish example as a guideline it cannot be difficult . It will need time to gel though and we still have that . Just as with IHT Labour will follow only reluctantly .

The Conservatives need to grab this policy as their own and provide leadership to the people of England
which they are not doing at present .

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