It is really starting to worry us now that the Chancellor George Osborne is trying to emulate the failure that was Gordon Brown. Not only has the Chancellor borrowed some his failed processor’s polices but it is evident that he is starting / continuing down the gimmick road as well.
Last night’s game of making it a law to run a surplus was utterly bizarre, it makes no sense – it’s just a gimmick. The new “Fiscal Responsibility Charter” says that after 2018, any UK Government must run a surplus but only in normal times.
There is no point getting into a debate about whether or not the surplus or non surplus is a good idea – that’s irrelevant to this debate and misses the point, that’s the trap that George wants to set so that people don’t question him.
There are some very simple and obvious points as to why this is just a gimmick and means absolutely nothing to anyone.
First of all, all the Chancellor (whoever he or she is at the time) needs to do after 2018 is declare the times “non normal” and the new rules mean absolutely nothing. Despite claiming that the office for budget responsibility makes the rules, this is not true. It is, will be the Chancellor at the time that declares things to be normal or abnormal.
Who is the Law For?
Secondly, who is the new law for? It can’t be for Chancellor George Osborne in 2018 because it is absurd to say that you need to bring in a law to force yourself to do something. Unless of course he thinks he has no self discipline, or more likely he knows no one believes his promises without a law.
Strangely enough on this subject, Gordon Brown tried this gimmick in 2010. George Osborne correctly pointed out:
““Fiscal responsiblity acts are instruments of the fiscally irresponsible to con the public… We have to debate this vacuous and irrelevant legislation before us, but it begs the question: why did the Chancellor (Gordon Brown) feel the compelling need to introduce it? Why is he the first Chancellor in our history that feels he needs an act of parliament on top of a budget statement? There are only two explanations. Either he doesn’t trust himself to secure sound public finances, or he knows the public doesn’t trust him to secure them.””
Is it for George’s successors?
Well George hopes to be PM after Cameron has gone, if that is the case then he can just force the Chancellor to stick to his wishes without the need for a law.
Is it for the next Government?
We’ll again no, because any new Government could just change the rules or even declare times “abnormal” and ignore them - again they mean nothing.
George Osborne is losing his credibility, and as each day passes he travels past the point of being an industry joke but well into the realms of being dangerous – just as Gordon Brown was. We sometimes wonder if the treasury is in injecting them with some kind of psychotic mind controlling drug. They all start out ok but they then lose the plot after a number of years.
Lord help us if he ever makes it to the level of Prime Minister.