A Belated Posting

Moving house, a bout of flu – actual flu, not the man-flu variety – lack of wi-fi, a family funeral, a busy couple of weeks at work, and a hectic number of after-work engagements as we approach the Christmas holidays.

Those are the reasons I’ve not written a blog post for a month or so. I apologise, but I’m sure you – Dear Reader – have been just as busy as I have, and I bet you’ve as many blogs in your reading list too, so I doubt I’ve been missed too much!

A bit of time away from the blog has given me time to think about things I want to write about a bit too. Writing a political blog while working in Westminster tends to make me feel like I need to write about things as they happen like some lobby journalist on a deadline.

Take the Autumn Statement given by George Osborne. It was delivered on the afternoon of November 29th. If I’d been firing on all cylinders, I’d have written and published a response by the evening of November 29th. It would probably

English: George Osborne MP, pictured speaking ...
George Osborne

have been an interesting read with at least a half-decent cursory opinion on why Osborne and his statement were a bit poor.

Now, I’ve had time to read the statement in more depth, I’ve had time to study the impact, and I’ve seen the later debates in Parliament. Including the one a couple of evenings ago where Labour won their first vote for some time. I say Labour won, but I think it’s probably more accurate to say the Government lost it. Very poor management from the coalition whips meant that hardly any government MPs were there to follow the line and head through the lobbies. I rather suspect there was a severe bollocking for whoever was on whips duty for the government benches that night.

Any way, back to the Autumn Statement. It’s very clear that Osbornomics just hasn’t worked. People up and down the nation have felt the pain of George and Dave’s plan for months now, but Osborne finally admitted that his economic manoeuvring had essentially failed.

That would be fine if it was as simple as just saying ‘hey ho, plan A didn’t work, let’s have a bash at something else chaps’. But it isn’t that simple. There is a cost to economic failure. They originally came to power saying that the harsh cuts were necessary to make sure the structural deficit was slashed by the end of the current parliament in 2015. In this statement, Osborne told us the deficit wouldn’t be gone until 2017. In fact, he went on to tell us that rather than carefully managing borrowing, government would borrow £158 billion more than they had planned 12 months ago.

Even the IMF have now announced that, if the economy continues to stagnate and underperform against forecasts, Osborne should do what Labour has said all along and slow down the cuts. Of course, George is so arrogant that he’s just going to carry on regardless. More and more he reminds me of the captain of the Titanic, heading inevitably toward the icebergs with no sign of slowing down.

Tonight, Cameron is at yet another European summit to discuss the failure of the Eurozone. No doubt Osborne will add this issue to the list of other excuses for British economic failure. We’ve had snow, weddings, and probably leaves on the line. And of course the Euro has an impact on our country, but that doesn’t explain why the UK has slower growth than 23 of the 27 countries of the European Union in the last year.

The OBR forecasts growth in the Eurozone at 1.6%, while it forecasts the UK’s at 0.9% over the same period. You have to wonder, given those numbers, how Osborne can logically blame the Euro crisis for his own failings.

Just to drive my point home, here are some other OBR numbers for you:

Slower growth this year, next year and every year up to 2014

OBR’s forecasts for GDP growth (%)

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

June 2010 (pre-Budget)

2.6

2.8

2.8

2.6

n/a

June 2010 Budget

2.3

2.8

2.9

2.7

2.7

November 2010

2.1

2.6

2.9

2.8

2.7

March 2010 Budget

1.7

2.5

2.9

2.9

2.8

November 2011

0.9

0.7

2.1

2.7

3

Change since Mar 2010

-0.8

-1.8

-0.8

-0.2

+0.2

 

Higher unemployment next year and every year up to 2015

OBR’s forecasts for ILO unemployment (% rate)

 

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

June 2010 (pre-Budget)

7.9

7.4

6.8

6.3

n/a

June 2010 Budget

8.0

7.6

7.0

6.5

6.1

November 2010

8.0

7.7

7.2

6.7

6.1

March 2010 Budget

8.2

8.1

7.6

7.0

6.4

November 2011

8.1

8.7

8.6

8.0

7.2

Change since Mar 2010

-0.1

0.6

1

1

0.7

 

£158 billion more borrowing than planned a year ago

OBR’s forecasts for public sector net borrowing (£bn)

 

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

2015/16

June 2010 (pre-Budget)

127

106

85

71

n/a

June 2010 Budget

116

89

60

37

20

November 2010

117

91

60

35

18

March 2010 Budget

122

101

70

46

29

November 2011

127

120

100

79

53

Change since Nov 2010

+10

+29

+40

+44

+35

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