Sunday, 16 November 2008

Osborne's right, but no-one's listening

Osborne's warning against substantial tax cuts in this morning's Telegraph is absolutely right. His public acknowledgement of the pressure on the pound - which everyone knew anyway, so it was hardly a leak - was also something quite right for a shadow Chancellor to point out. The problem is, no-one is listening.

Whilst the papers carry Gordon's promises of jam for all, and before Christmas too, George's message hasn't got a hope in hell of being heard. And if the choice between Gordon's jam and George's bread and dripping was put to the voters, Gordon would win.

There's a world of difference between being right and being electable. The Tories are between Scylla and Charybdis on this one. They can carry on being right and see their vote ebb away, or promise better jam than Labour.

How Cameron gets out of this one, I don't know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right now, people are responding positively to Brown's sunny pronouncements. It makes perfect sense - Brown is promising that this recession won't actually impact the mass of people in any substantial way. Young people who can't recall the last big recession believe him; older people who remember the pain of the last few recession want to believe him.

Brown is telling the electorate what they want to hear and they are eating it up. The Tories, who dare to tell the truth, naturally suffer. They are pointing out that the flim-flam snake oil salesman actually can't cure all your ills; they are point out that the emperor, in effect, has no clothes.

The long term impact on the Tories, though, is going to be small. Telling an inconvenient and unpopular truth may cause problems in the short term but, in the end, they will be proved right. When companies close, when the pound loses yet more of its value, when another hundred billion pounds worth of foreign investment deserts the country (as it did in October), when the mass job losses occur - that's when the bovine masses will realise that maybe that Eeeeevil Toff Osborne actually had a point.

Brown's whole approach to this crisis revolves around spinning it for short-term gain in the polls, but he has no actual solution, no fix, no new ideas. In point of fact - and this is important - Brown does not give a flying fuck about whether the economy does well or badly; he only cares that, for a brief moment in time, he can affect an air of sufficient political gravitas that he gains four or five points in the polls.

The game Brown's playing is structured so that Labour must acquire this short-term boost but, in the long and middle term, Labour simply cannot win the game. The recession hasn't bitten yet but, when it does and when the jobs are lost in their hundreds of thousands and ordinary people find that the pound in their pocket just doesn't got as far as it should, what platitude can Brown spout then that will take people's minds off their lost jobs and lost money and lost homes?

Brown's conduct in this crisis has followed the same pattern as the rest of his career: short-term tactical gain is seized while the long-term strategic goals necessary for victory go unmet and, for the most part, unrecognised. This crisis, amigos, is Brown's Vietnam - he can appear to be winning the battle but, before too long, he'll be clambering on board the last chopper out of Saigon while wondering how it all went wrong.