Sunday, March 28, 2010

Labour targets George Osborne as 'weakest link' in Tory team.

He is clearly the most obvious target.

Labour vowed last night to target the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, as the strategic "weak link" in the Conservatives' bid for power.

Party sources told the Observer that a decision had been taken to focus on Osborne as the prime target throughout the campaign, because the future stewardship of the economy is the issue that most concerns voters.

They said there was "strong evidence" from their own focus groups that people regard Osborne as "shrill, immature and lightweight", and that the Tories are already being harmed in the polls because of doubts about their economic policies.

I've written about this man many times. He is heir to the Osborne baronetcy and is part of the old Anglo-Irish aristocracy. He has famously done almost no job outside of politics and yet Cameron proposes putting him in charge of the UK's economy for no better reason than the fact that they became friends at college.

Nor are doubts about Osborne's abilities limited to those of us on the left. Simon Heffer, a well known right wing commentator has stated:
"George is silly; George has poor judgment; George is unreliable; George is, to coin a phrase, a dolt. What credibility does he have left? This has at least caused people to forget what a disaster he made of his attempts (if they can be dignified with such a term) to mount a response to the global financial crisis.

"Can a dolt aspire to hold a great office of state? For little George could be walking out of 11 Downing Street with Mr Gladstone's dispatch box within months.

"How much does that make you want to vote Conservative?"

Nor does his taking over at Number 11 fill the city of London with anything other than extreme apprehension:
Few wanted to go on the record with their criticisms of Osborne, but the views of David Buik, senior analyst at the City brokers BGC Partners, are typical of what I was told. "I find it quite extraordinary, however delightful he may be, that his only experience, in terms of business, industry or commerce, has been as a speechwriter at Tory Central Office and that he should be the chosen person to be the next chancellor of the exchequer. I know he's a quick learner, but it's frightening. And I say this as an obsessed Conservative . . . I haven't got a bad word to say about him [as a person]. But you have got to have some experience of life."
Every single call this man has made as shadow Chancellor has been wrong.

Ed Balls said the country faced stark choices when it decides who would best run the economy. "People will be asking themselves during this campaign, who do we want to be our chancellor after the election? Alistair Darling, who with Gordon Brown has calmly but skilfully taken us through the worst global recession for decades, made all the right calls and done so fairly?

"Or the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, who… wobbles under pressure, got every call in the past two years wrong, whose economic policies would risk the recovery and hit families hard, and whose credibility and judgment are now in serious question even from his own side."

Cameron's judgement is seriously suspect if he can honestly look at the entire Conservative party and say with a straight face that he thinks George Osborne is the best the Tories can offer us as a future Chancellor.

It's a horrendous choice and it's one which he deserves to be punished for. That's why Labour are right to take aim at George, not simply for being unqualified for the task which Cameron has set him. But, more importantly, just what that appointment says about Cameron himself.

Click here for full article.

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