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The public won’t swallow Osborne’s line as easily as the media do

Posted on 19 March 2012 | 10:03am

Half way through George Osborne’s BBC interview with Andrew Marr yesterday, I got a bit bored and tweeted that there seemed little purpose to the interview other than to remind people of two things we already know – that we have a coalition government, and that the Budget is on Wednesday. This was, I now confess, a case of premature twijaculation, as the purpose became clearer a little later on, when Marr asked him about the Sunday Times splash on rock stars seemingly avoiding tax. Cue Osborne doing a ‘soundbite with extra energy on the way‘ look, followed by bloodcurdling rhetoric about how he intended to punish such dodging.

Suddenly, the constantly articulated ‘I can’t tell you what’s in the Budget’ rule went out of the window as he made clear measures to deal with this would indeed be in the Budget. He did the same later on the subject of extended shopping hours during the Sundays of the Olympics.

The purpose of the first announcement was to give a sense, however spurious, that even if he cuts the top rate of tax for the wealthy, he was basically motivated by low and middle income earners and should not be seen as a friend of the rich.

But friend of the rich is what he is, in his own life and in his political life. In Saturday’s Financial Times magazine, which ran a broadly sympathetic review of David Cameron’s first two years as PM, Tory MP Nadine Dorries was nonetheless quoted as saying ‘policy is being run by two public-schoolboys who don’t know what it’s like not to afford things in the supermarket’.

The media broadly buys anything Cameron and Osborne feed them – his rock star rhetoric duly led the news for much of the day. Likewise continuing opposition to the NHS Bill is now being relegated down the news agenda, with something close to a news blackout on the march against the Bill at the weekend.

But the NHS is far from being the only area where the ‘give them the benefit of the doubt’ approach of most of the media, written and broadcast, is not shared by large swathes of the population.

Yesterday’s interview shows that Osborne understands the need, at the political level, to communcate a sense that we’re all in this together. But he will be judged by the policies he sets out, and it was not too difficult to see beneath the rhetoric the advance of a very traditional Tory Budget, and bad news for low and middle income earners compared with the good news for people at the top.

  • Given the majority of Conservative voters don’t know who George Osborne is it should come as no surprise that they will not look beyond the ‘news’ they read in their Sun/Mail. Differences between rhetoric and policy are only picked up by politicos.

    The BBC are the most trusted broadcaster and how they frame the news is vitally important. I am very concerned at how the BBC news in particular has become an echo-chamber for the Coalition. The NHS issue is the biggest issue of this term, and yet the dissenting voice has been blocked out on many occasions.

    You’re an (ex-?)spin man, how should this be countered?

  • It’s bloody depressing isn’t it.
    Cameron and Osborne are rich Tory boys with plenty of friends (also) in high places. ‘All in it together’ – they must think we were born yesterday.
    Frustratingly Labour had all that time to grasp the nettle on various fronts (tax avoidance, closing loopholes, exposing banks, quango scams etc) and missed the opportunity.
    Then there’s Vince Cable, a ‘busted flush’ if ever there was one; it’s clear he isn’t going to step up now.
    The media, as you point out, only seem to tell us what they want, with the emphasis on their own agenda. 
    All this I feel is driven by a greed for power and wealth, which I am beginning to believe is nothing short of an unacknowledged and growing addiction.
    I’m worried, truly worried …

  • Chris lancashire

    Calm down dear. Why not wait until after Wednesday to vent your spleen on those evil Tories?

  • Liz

    I agree with all you say, but what exactly can you do with people who don’t give a toss about what the public are saying and just do it anyway.  The Condems listen to no one but the rich, they care about no one but the rich and they think the rest of us are here to clean their houses. They want to roll the clock back to the 1930’s so we all know our place.

  • Trevorsmith

    Multi millionaires coming from multi millionaire families cannot possibly have any understanding of how “ordinary” people live their daily lives,living from one week’s/month’s pay to the next.
    They probably have never known single mothers living on benefits or fathers and brothers who cannot, no matter how hard they try, get a job.
    This lack of understanding and knowledge runs deep through their policies and my knowledge and understanding impell me to vote Labour. It’s as simple as that.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Budget for the rich.
    The actions of the Tory-led government are visible, but motives secret.
    Both Moody´s and Fitch now say that Britain´s AAA rating is at risk.
    In 2011 Britain grew only 0.8%. This year the UK will grow at best 0.6% – 2.2% is needed for plan A.
    The UK economy has shrunk 3.9% since the crash.
    George Osborne´s target is to eliminate structural deficit by 2015-16 and to ensure that government debt as a proportion of GDP is falling by 2015.
    But he is already £158bn off the track.
    Only 12% of the spending cuts has been done.
    In cash terms public spending is £710bn in 2011-12. It will rise to £736bn in 2015.
    But in real terms (inflation adjusted) public spending falls.
    UK national debt in 2015 will be £1.32tn. Debt interest payment will rise to about £65bn.
    The ideological position of George Osborne is that government should only guarantee low inflation and low interest rates, and then leave the rest to the markets.
    But Mr Osborne has been forced to print money through the Bank of England (BoE) quantitative easing (QE) programme.
    In 2009 Mr Osborne said that “printing money is the last resort of desperate governments”.
    Gilts market over the past two years has been financed by printing money. The BoE has purchased £241bn of £475bn of gilts sold in 2009-2011.
    The Tory-led government aims at consolidation of 7.8% of GDP.
    Total borrowing this year is 8% of GDP.
    According to IMF paper Expansionary Austerity: New International Evidence 1% of GDP fiscal consolidation reduces real private consumption over the next two years by 0.75%, while real GDP declines by 0.62%.
    Cutting spending without any counterbalancing growth strategy undermines revenues.
    Mr Osborne compared Britain to Greece. But what is really going on there?
    Greece is being used as a political experiment for the future Europe ruled by Eurocrats.
    The aim of the austerity measures of IMF, European Union and European Central Bank there is to reduce living standards for ordinary citizens, abolish social security and create third world working conditions.
    Public assets have been given into private hands at bargain prices.
    All this is part of REARRANGEMENT OF CAPITALISM for a period of low growth. Powerful people want to create a post-industrial society based on “sustainability”.
    Manufacturing in Britain, for example, is down to 12% of GDP.
    Ayn Rand´s (author of Atlas Shrugged) Objectivism is the philosophy of the new right.
    Selfishness is good, compassion irrational.
    There is no need for government, no need to control business.
    The real agenda of the Tory-led government is to shrink the state and give all the power to big corporations.
    By 2013 real disposable income per household in the UK will be 5.7% lower than 2007. Personal debt in Britain will rise to £2.12tn in 2015.
    We are all in this together – except the wealthy! 

  • Michele

    Do you think Ms Dorries should do a ‘calm down dear’ too?

    • Chris lancashire


  • Chris lancashire

    I shouldn’t worry about the BBC’s supposed bias. If you look on other blogs you’ll find the right wingers wingeing about the BBC’s anti-coalition stance. That suggests that, overall, maybe the BBC has it about right.
    By the way, I don’t think Mr Campbell is “ex” – he’s still spinning like a top.

  • Ehtch

    My local small supermarket, Sid’s, is open from early Sunday to late Sunday, so I do not know what he is on about. Sunday hours are alright for me, and there is a couple of 24 hour seven day petrol garages further up the road too, and I, could be described as, live in the sticks.

    Osborne was just spouting flannel, as usual, just trying to say for punters on their settees at home, “yeh, rockstars, yeh, get them”. Pathetic.

  • Michele

    You’re unusually active yourself today dear

  • Tony Lelliott

    Desperately want to hear from Labour – what will we do to put the damage they’re doing right ?

    Come on Ed ! Speak up or move aside and let someone take over who has the ability to speak up for us.

    Come out and pledge to reverse the NHS reforms, re-impose the 50p tax rate, and provide a credible plan for growth / jobs. BE RADICAL ! BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE AT LEAST SPEAK UP !

  • Ehtch

    Makes you laugh when Dave kept going on like a cracked record that they the “listening party”. Listening party – my arse behind they are, they’re taking the piss out of joe public us.

  • Dave Simons

     ‘By the way, I don’t think Mr Campbell is “ex” – he’s still spinning like a top.’

    Surely that’s understandable, given that it’s only 27 days since Shrove Tuesday?

  • Dave Simons

     ‘unusually active’

    I think there’s a good argument for bringing back the ‘spitting strictly prohibited’ signs when Chris gets unusually active.

  • Richard

    “UK national debt in 2015 will be £1.32tn. Debt interest payment will rise to about £65bn.”
    Interest rate 5% Olli? If Balls and Co were in charge perhaps 7%.
    However please confirm to everybody what the current rate is.
    2% Olli.
    But do not let the facts get in the way of a good story!

  • reaguns

    This budget doesn’t matter. Everything is futile. Mandatory workfare whilst spitting on the grave of John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Hayek, Adam Smith and everyone else, has won this election for Cameron, fully supported by Miliband (who I had been sticking up for till now.)

    That said I did speak to a few nasty tories and a few nasty labour in the past few days who fully endorsed Miliband’s “Work for 6 months or starve beeeaaaatch” policy thinking it was even tougher than Cam’s, so you never know!

  • Ehtch

    Totally off topic, as if I could give a stuff, Engelbert Humperdinck Eurovision song has eventutally been posted today, nicely ballardic, could very well do it, if anyone is interested, Osborne the cultural heathen no doubt not interested at all, the tosser. Engelbert,

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know anything about ‘the public’ any more.  They’ve just allowed the NHS to be sold off.  Who’d have thought it?

  • AC, have you seen the latest Guardian Poll, we, well the Conservatives are leading your old lot, e.g New Labour, or what ever they are calling themselves these days by 39% to 36%. The UK voter has decided one thing, your new unofficial boss, does TB know, Ed Miliband will crash and burn the Labour Party as did that other fellow you supported Gordon Brown. Long may “ Red ” Ed Miliband run the Labour Party, in your day you would have waked all over him. The UK voter trusts the Conservative Party with the economy over Labour, we didn’t bankrupt the Country.

  • Whilst I agree that the right complain about BBC bias, that may not suggest they are ‘getting it about right’. 

    I suspect that rather than that, they are inconsistent.

  • Anonymous

    What is sadly all too obvious to me and t’other half is that the government are doing nothing to help and everything to hinder, we’re tightening our belts and not getting anywhere, it’s unheard of that i agree with Dorries but Cameron and Osborne really have no clue what it’s like to be skint, whereas i appear to be over my overdraft limit until payday.

  • Gilliebc

    Well observed reaguns.

  • Bullers

    No the Conservative party didn’t bankrupt the country, but Tory voting, greedy, reckless, selfish capitalist bankers did.

  • Mark Wright

    ***Inside George Osborne’s head this time last week as he worries about the news cycle at the start of budget week***

    “NHS being dismantled??? No, wait!

    Lowering income tax to 45p for the wealthy??? No, wait!

    Sh*t we need a distraction.

    Got it!

    Road pricing ‘consultation’??? Genius!!!

    Is that anything to do with the budget???

    Of course not! That’s the whole point!

    It’ll dominate the front pages???

    Of course it will. The gullible fools.”

    ***Rolls over and sleeps like a baby***

  • Patricia Shepherd

    I think you’ll find that this link goes some way to explaining why we heard nothing a the NHS on the beeb.


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