George Osborne’s in cloud cuckoo land, 40 per cent UK cuts will never happen

We all knew that new UK coalition government chancellor George Osborne was a touch youthful (about to hit 40) and no economist but the latest noises from the Treasury seem to suggest that he’s completely lost any marbles he might have somehow acquired en route.

He has instructed Lib Dem patsy Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury whose last real real job was drafting press releases for the Cairngorms National Park, to instruct Whitehall departments to prepare for cuts to their budgets of up to 40 per cent.

Even Tory uber right-winger John Redwood thinks this is barmy, unachievable and unnecessary.

It won’t happen because a) it can’t without the country grinding to a halt and b) the Treasury’s own figures tacitly admit that what they’re talking about is a cut measured against projected increases in spending, not the figures to be spent this year.

But does George realise this? Has anyone told him?

And so far we’ve heard not a squeak from leading coalition partners deputy PM Nick Clegg (also no economist) and business secretary Vince Cable, who does claim with some reason to be an economist but seems to have forgotten how and why.

New PM David Cameron has done a good job so far in acting as master of ceremonies of this peculiar government, even managing to be nice to Europeans.

But at some stage substance has to take over from style. If he allows Osborne to rampage around in his Treasury playpen like this it will make the Thatcher years (when public expenditure actually rose) look like a cannabis-infused socialist paradise.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.