Has Osborne the judgment to match his ability?

I TOOK part in a panel discussion with Steve Richards of The Independent and Jonathan Isaby of Conservative Home on Friday at the Commonwealth Club near Embankment.

A question from the audience about George Osborne elicited a surprisingly generous response from Richards, whose political analysis I’ve always been impressed by. But I was nevertheless taken aback by his enthusiasm for Osborne, who he described in glowing terms as the pre-eminent political talent of his generation. A future leader of his party? I asked him. Yes. he replied, unequivocally.

Afterwards I reflected on the reality that if talent and ability automatically led to political success, we would have seen Denis Healey and Michael Heseltine become prime minister. Luck and judgment play as big a part as ability in any political career.

Which brings me back to Osborne.

Iain Dale did a very good job last night in exposing the vacuity of The Sunday Times’ latest attempted demolition of Osborne. Nevertheless, at a time when GO, justifiably or not, is under some pressure, he has decided to launch a very controversial attack on the government’s economic policy by predicting a run on the pound.

Ken Clarke says there’s no convention that says the Shadow Chancellor cannot speculate about the strength of the currency. And Iain pointed out that the threads on Conservative Home which The Sunday Times prayed in aid of its case against Osborne actually featured no substantive criticism. Yet as I’ve pointed out before, at the very least, Tory activists are less impressed with his performance now than they were a month ago.

So is now the right time for GO to making himself vulnerable to the inevitable accusation that he’s talking Sterling down?

Ability, skill, luck, judgment: GO may well have the first two in sufficient quantity, but without the last two, he’s a goner.

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14 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Conservative Party, Economy, Media, Politics

14 responses to “Has Osborne the judgment to match his ability?

  1. Madasafish

    Run on the pound?

    When is a fall a run?

    Given that sterling has fallen more than 10% in under 3weeks against the Euro and 25% against teh US$ in 3 months, if we exptrapolate .. the pound will be worth zero in 12 months time..

    (Obviously It will not be).

    I think Osborne is wrong on issues of fact: we already have a run on the pound.

    Not that the media or the BBC would recognise it.

    One of the hallmarks of the comments on Osborne (who I do not care much for)… is the total ignorance and oblivion of the commentators on the FACTS.

    I know facts get in the way of a good story.. but the facts show sterling falling very rapidly.. all before GO said a word.

    As for the Government .. well it’s just politics.

    This is a typical story of hype written by journalists # who have no knowledge of the subject under review and who do not check their facts before writing a word…

    i.e pretty standard for the BBC…

    I call them jounalists but really it is often little more than regurgitation of some political spin with the writer adding a few words..

    Osborne ‘s fault as I say is that we are already in a run. His warning is too late!
    My charts say £1=$1.32,

    I have made quite a tidy sum of this fall as it was bleeding obvious that UK needs to borrow lots of money, the BOE should have cut rates months earlier and the 1.5% cut was sheer panic.

    King’s bleating about sudden economic deterioration hid his own forecasting incompetence as Darling said it all in his interview weeks before about ” worst economic circumstances for 60 years”..

    To then blame Osborne – who is in Opposition – is like shooting the messenger…

    Reinforces my view of economists and journalists.. they are useless on the whole ( Lord? Lawson excepted – at times)

  2. For the record, Madasafish (or can I call you Mad?), I wasn’t suggesting in this post that GO had caused the run on the pound. I was only suggesting there should be a question mark over his judgment for raising this subject while knowing that, in doing so, he would be accused of irresponsibility.

  3. James

    That sterling has fallen 30% against major currencies; that it is trading at an all time low against the Euro; a 6 year low against the dollar; and that any further devaluation will lead to long term problems with interest rates, are established facts. Further government borrowing (from its already dangerously irresponsible levels), irresponsible tax cuts and interest rate cuts will only store up huge problems for the future. GO is absolutely right to highlight this issue, it is extremely serious. It is about time the media and eminent bloggers realised this and stopped supporting the ludicrous line trotted out by Nos 10 & 11 Downing Street. Nothing that GO says, in a commentary fashion, will have any effect whatsoever on the value of sterling. Markets and traders have already decided that. The economy in the UK is broken, and the plans currently being suggested are not going to fix them. Hence the flight to US Dollars and Euros etc.
    So much for being better placed than all other economies to weather the fiscal storm!

  4. Chris' Wills

    Is it irresponsible to point out the obvious to the lack of brains (your beloved leader who smiles at others adversity whilst stealing from our descendants) whose stupidity caused the pound to plunge.

    Sometimes someone has to point out that the Emporer is naked.

  5. Johnny Norfolk

    Come off it Tom.
    All Osbourne has done has told everone what has already happened.
    There is no where you can hide.
    It is the oppositions DUTY to say what they think as Labour/BBC did over the ERM.
    Its about time he did. The Tories have been far to timid over this.
    You have brought dissaster to this country and expect the opposition to say nothing about it. Brown is continuing to try and con the British people.
    When to you expect the IMF loan application.

    Its all your fault not the Tories, sorry.

  6. Tom, there has already been a run on the Pound. What else would you call a 30% drop in four months?!

  7. As I said above, Iain, I’m not jumping on the bandwagon of claiming Osborne is being irresponsible. I’m pointing out that in the current climate, at a time when there is speculation about the job he is doing, Osborne’s judgment in raising this should be questioned.

  8. Madasafish

    Tom
    You may call me what you like:-)

    You said:”I was only suggesting there should be a question mark over his judgment for raising this subject while knowing that, in doing so, he would be accused of irresponsibility.”

    So you suggest he should be a coward?
    Or another political yes man?
    Or see what’s happening and say nothing?

    As I say, I do not care for him.. but he has balls to tell the truth.

    All I can say is that if a former Government Minister has to question another poltician’s judgement for TELLING THE TRUTH.. then it says it all.

    May I remind you that all the major scandals happen because people do not tell the truth:
    eg
    Enron
    The banking crisis.
    Lots of politicians including Lord Mandelson (twice).

    The fact that I have to write in such words says how bad things have got.

    As for Osnorne’s words and their effect on the forex market… it’s a sign of the economic illiteracy of those who raise the subject. King Darling and Brown by their action and words have stuffed sterling.

    As I said before, it;’s been bleeding obvious for months.

    But as politicians do not believe in telling the truth.

    Words fail me…

  9. Mad – Osborne has already decided that no member of the Tory front bench should speculate on the interest rate. I think you’re being a bit harsh by suggesting that that makes him a coward.

  10. Jim Baxter

    ‘When bad men combine, the good must associate, else they will fall one by one…

    I’d put Osborne in with the good here. He knew what the comeback would be, that it would be low and dirty. He’s learning then, belatedly.
    The difference is that, on the fate of the currency, he spoke the truth and the comeback is predictable, opportunistic rubbish. Guess who the baddies are.

  11. If as Iain says there has already been “a run on the pound” rather than an adjustment and a reaction, pretty predictable reaction at that, to interest rate changes etc should we be clattering GOO for predicting what has already happened?

    No. GOO considers (a) that what has already happened is trivial … you ain’t seen nothing yet; and (b) that saying so is a good idea.

    This is probably in the same league of head emptying stupidity as telling tales out of school about Rothscild and Deripaska (and Mandelson of course).

    And it is stupidity whether it is futurising something that has already happened, or predicting worse is to come.

    This adjustment is very good for exports and as it goes the market price of imports such as oil adjusts according to currency values. There has been a spectacular “run on the price of oil” for just one example.

  12. Johnny Norfolk

    By the way Tom. The pound is rising, perhaps its something to do with the markets detecting Osbourne has at last spoken the truth and a new government is not that far away.

  13. Tacitus

    Tom will of course remember a shadow chancellor called Brown criticising Conservative policies vociferously in the recession after Black Wednesday.

    Is it not the formal duty of Her Majesty’s Opposition to <oppose the government of the day? That being so, was not Osborne simply doing his duty by warning that Brown’s actions could cause a catastrophic run on sterling, which had already started to spiral downwards as a result of Brown’s “policies”?

    Tom, if you were in a coach and the driver was deliberately driving you towards a precipitous cliff at high speed, what would you do?

  14. Blackacre

    Can I just say how nice it is to see “judgment” spelled correctly.

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