Conservative Intelligence

Conservative Intelligence

This site is currently down for maintenance and should be back soon.

Osborne Will Be Pleased With The Revolution In His Fortunes

Last Updated: Friday, March 21st, 2014

What a difference two years makes. At this point in 2012, George Osborne’s budget was under fire from all sides, and the Chancellor himself found both his competence and career being called into question.

That must now seem like a bad dream, as he reviews the 2014 headlines hailing his policy radicalism and political nous.

They key test for a budget is not just its delivery but the following 48 hours. What will the Opposition’s researchers squirrel out of the small print? Will a new hashtag-style nickname like the pasty tax appear overnight and catch on? How harsh will the IFS be in their schoolmasterly presentation on the Thursday?

Osborne’s budget has successfully navigated each of those ordeals. Miliband’s response was empty, and his MPs are struggling to defend it. The best Twitter has had to go on was Grant Shapps’ bingo miscall. Even the IFS’ admonitions about responsible book-keeping only surfaced briefly on The Times’ front page before being replaced with a poll showing popular support for his pension reforms.

If the budget coverage has been transformed, so has Osborne’s public standing. A man who was booed at the Olympics is now piling points onto his approval ratings.

All of this bodes well for the election. If, as expected, GDP finally surpasses 2008 levels this year then he will have given the Conservative party a strong case.

The message that Ed Miliband is too much of a risk to take is all the more persuasive when the nation has more to lose.

But do the changes in Osborne’s fiscal fortunes translate into an improved chance of winning the leadership, should it become available?

He’s certainly in a better place than in 2012, when he was widely written off. But many MPs and party members fear his manner and tone aren’t vote-winning, even if his oft-mentioned long term economic plan is.

Perhaps his greatest boost comes from those who don’t want Boris to get the job. This factor shouldn’t be ignored – Iain Duncan Smith among others won the party leadership thanks to popular desperation to stop another candidate.

The Mayor’s brinksmanship and teasing are winning him no new friends, and alienating people who were once open-minded about him.

There are plenty of others in the field – not least Theresa May – and none of them would publicly accept a vacancy will arise at the top of the party. Osborne can deservedly feel his performance this week has kept him in the front runners.

By Mark Wallace



Brian Monteith: Ruth Davidson has a chance she must seize – one that could make or break her career  ‘Davidson must come out in favour of tax competition. Not only is it a bold Conservative move, it is from such competition that the whole of Britain could become more prosperous as the benefits are seen and replicated.’

Stephan Shakespeare: Are UKIP supporters racist?    ‘Immigration, of course, plays a significantly bigger role in UKIP’s appeal than amongst other parties, but again opposition to immigration is very widely spread across the public. And while racists want stronger limits on immigration, so do a large proportion of non-racists.‘

Joe Armitage: The Parliamentary quitters    ‘Something profound is happening to our legislature. Already 23 Labour and 14 Conservative MPs have announced their intention to stand down in 2015. Politics needs to revert back to a time when it was about contribution, not gain. It has become a game for people who have worked in politics all their lives to ‘win’ PMQs, have their stint in Parliament and then rake it in.’

Paul Goodman: The weaponised Chancellor  ‘Think again about his record as Chancellor.  Sure, the Government won’t stop borrowing, on current forecasts, until 2017-18 – at least three years over schedule.  But the triple dip recession, catastrophic breakdown of public services, and soaring unemployment that his opponents forecast simply haven’t happened.’

Peter Hoskin: In spirit at least, Halfon is now the author of Osborne’s Budgets  ‘ Barely a Budget goes by without the MP for Harlow receiving top billing and, often, a mention in the Chancellor’s speech itself. Indeed, he pops up in that Sun article I mentioned: “If the Chancellor does this, it would be a tax cut for many thousands of working people who play Bingo – from a Workers Budget.”’

From the Conservative Intelligence member's site

Miliband’s Threat To Outside Earnings May Drive Tory Mps Over The Edge

Conservative MPs are capable of a wide range of emotions, encompassing the normal human set and then a few extras thrown in. Pride, injured pride, confidence, optimism, crushing depression, panic, fury, resentment, contentment, ambition, resignation, triumph and a host of others are within their repertoire. Even at the best of times, a healthy parliamentary party […]

Cameron Woos Mrs Rochester

“There’s no stunts or backroom deals, just a strong local candidate you can trust.” So wrote David Cameron in a letter sent this week to every voter in Rochester and Strood, where the next UKIP-engineered by-election is to take place towards the end of November.  At the end of it, he made the point again […]

To Respond To Defeat In Clacton, The Tories Will Need A Tougher Immigration Policy

Everyone expected the UKIP candidate, Douglas Carswell, to win in Clacton, but few people thought he would win by the enormous margin of 12,404 votes. An exceptionally rude kick has been administered to David Cameron. It is not much consolation for the Conservatives that a scarcely less rude kick has been administered to Ed Miliband […]

The Tories Leave Birmingham With A New-Found Confidence

No-one knew quite what to expect when the Conservative family gathered in Birmingham on Sunday. Mark Reckless had just delivered the second UKIP defection blow in as many months, and Brooks Newmark’s indiscretions were causing embarrassment (though less existential questions for the party). If anything, observers might have expected a depressed conference mood. Instead, though, […]

21 People To Watch As Next Week’s Conservative Conference Looms

1. Those two MP defectors to UKIP – if, of course, they exist at all.  If so, they will presumably turn up on Saturday evening.  If they don’t, the media will treat this as a further sign that the Party isn’t grown-up, since it talked but didn’t deliver.   2. George Osborne. The Conservative election […]

Will Cameron Go Fast And Slow On Devolution All-Around?

The Prime Minister announced this morning that more devolution for Scotland and reform elsewhere – specifically, action on English votes for English laws – will take place “in tandem” and “at the same pace”.  Draft legislation will be “published by January”. His statement opens up two possible outcomes. The first is that he pushes for […]

Whatever The Result, The Scottish Referendum Has Killed Blair’s Devolution Settlement

The Scottish referendum result is up in the air – polls swing from No to Yes and back again, all within the margin of error. The rush from Westminster to Scotland, not only of the party leaders but of scores of Labour MPs, demonstrates how seriously the prospect of a Yes result is being taken. […]

Two Conservative Scenarios If Scotland Votes Yes

Scenario One: David Cameron does not resign as Prime Minister (or as Conservative leader).  Nor does any member of the Cabinet other than Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary.  The Coalition hangs together.  The Conservative Parliamentary Party rallies round its leader. UKIP’s attempt to provoke an English nationalist backlash comes to nothing.  Perhaps unexpectedly, […]

Cameron’s Ability To Neutralise Opponents Is Brilliantly Illustrated By His Handling Of The New Surveillance Law

David Cameron will always do what the Establishment considers to be prudent.  The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, sprung upon the Cabinet on Thursday morning, is a case in point. Cameron has been told by the security services that these powers are needed. He has therefore set out to square Nick Clegg and Ed […]

Why Critical Headlines About Donor Dinners Raise A Smile In Downing Street

In politics, as with so many things, it’s tempting to judge a book by its cover. The personalities, the catchphrases, the emotional and cultural baggage carried by politicians and parties all compete for our attention. They’re important, of course, but they’re only one part of the political process. The showbiz elements often distract people from […]