George Osborne

All in opposition must rally against the Autumn Statement

By: Tim Mobbs, The Information Daily
Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 17:47 GMT Jump to Comments

If Osborne really does plan to lead his party he needs to present himself and his party as more receptive, less dogmatic and more sincere. He has a mountain to climb. Meanwhile the Labour Party is once again a dysfunctional family sitting down to a Christmas dinner they have choked on in the past.

The government’s honeymoon period after pulling a majority seemingly out of nowhere last May is over. A troublesome upper house, coupled with the alarming popularity of an irritatingly mild-mannered and unflappable Leader of the Opposition, has turned popping corks into steely glares and over-rehearsed assertions of responsibility and decisiveness.

Many column inches have already been dedicated to what we should expect to hear from Osborne’s Autumn Statement. The main thrust is that there will not be any major surprises: the Chancellor will claim that threats to recovery justify yet more savage cuts.

However, the occasion presents an opportunity for the Conservative leader-in-waiting to show an increasingly disaffected electorate that he has listened. If he really does plan to run the country he needs to present himself and his party as more receptive, less dogmatic and more sincere. He has a mountain to climb.

The opposition, on the other hand, need to do little other than give a voice to the collective pain of the population and highlight the government’s failures. Wasn’t Osborne the Chancellor who said, in 2010, that the deficit would be written off by 2015? How will Osborne spin the worst October for public spending in six years? How can he dismiss current forecasts that put him £50 billion short of a £10 billion surplus by 2020? Those who oppose need only take this ammunition and fire back in unity.

The often backwards rhetoric of the Conservative Party needs to be rebuked with simple facts. A Prime Minister leaning on the despatch box in Parliament, parroting the thin jokes of advisors who watch Saturday night television on his behalf, can no longer support the Tory everyman illusion of being “in this together”.

To do well, Corbyn only has to sustain his reputation for honesty and integrity. Not even his most rabid detractors can accuse him of being insincere. By appearing as the sort of normal bloke who doesn’t have his morning jog managed by media advisors, he will always present as more trustworthy than a past master of the black arts like Osborne.

For all the optimism that the bright young things responsible for running Corbyn’s expanding online base of support bring, the Labour Party is once again a dysfunctional family sitting down to a Christmas dinner they have choked on too many times before. An embarrassing row would be an early present for the Tories.

Holding the government to account will take all the strength, time and brainpower that the opposition has at its command. They have nothing to spare for in-fighting. Wasting the wonderful opportunity to fight back that they now find set before them would be unforgivable.

The proposals to cut tax credits will, we must suppose, be the main event for both government and opposition. For all the fabric softener that Osborne will have used to put his rejected proposals through the wash, the threat that they present to swathes of hard-working citizens needs to be criticised again and again. The opposition must not sacrifice the momentum that toppled tax credits proposals in October. This is especially important after Osborne’s sinister threats that the Lords would be “dealt with”.

The effect that backbench rebels will have must also give the Chancellor pause for thought. A slim majority does, after all, depend entirely on a harmony that may well prove impossible for the government whips to muster. The opposition would be wise to remember that individuals completely comfortable with every implication of the Autumn Statement may well be few and far between.

Tim is a postgraduate research student, with a specialist focus on female authors of modernist literature. He has written freelance about a diverse range of subjects including nutrition, digital marketing, music, and technology for over six years.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

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