Wealth Manager - the site for professional investment managers

Register to get unlimited access to all of Citywire’s Fund Manager database. Registration is free and only takes a minute.

Autumn Statement: Osborne recovers rep for slickness if not competency

Autumn Statement: Osborne recovers rep for slickness if not competency

Nine months ago as George Osborne readied his red briefcase for the 2012 budget, this website paid tribute to his political cunning and awareness that ‘squillionaires alone’ would not win elections.

Well he showed us! In fact he showed all of us, delivering a package of measures that entirely consisted of stick, all of the carrots having earlier been distributed to the Sunday newspapers, in probably the greatest political miscalculation since Gordon Brown’s 10p tax.

The pasty tax and the raid on pensioners dominated the coverage of the budget for days thereafter, and kicked off a slump in the government’s poll standing that has yet to be arrested.

Did Osborne reprieve his political reputation today? Well, partially. On a snap judgement he managed to hold enough back for the statement to ensure the media didn’t immediately have to hunt for the hidden bombshells to have anything to report on at all.

There were ‘new’ new announcements on personal tax allowances and a cut to corporation tax rates, and detail was fleshed out on heavily flagged increases in infrastructure announcements.

That relied on some heroic levels of obfuscation however, with some pretty awful Office for Budgetary Responsibility numbers on growth and borrowing spun heavily.

Obfuscation turned into outright intellectual dishonesty in his sleight of hand on the government’s debt targets, boasting of ‘cash borrowing falls in every year’ of this parliament as a triumph of economic stewardship.

Technically true, but possibly of lesser importance than the overall deficit rising sharply on the March budget estimate and more than doubling in 2016/17 from £21 billion to £49 billion.

David Cameron got his offence play in early, getting off a snappy (for parliament) line about ‘plan B for bankruptcy’. But any government triumphalism about its own genius for economic stewardship now comes across as fairly hollow.

As Capital Economics’ head of UK analysis Vicky Redwood put it: ‘the UK’s safe-haven status still looks secure [but] today’s statement does nothing to alter the poor fiscal and economic outlook.’

Leave a comment!

Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.
Citywire TV
Brewin's Gutteridge & Foster talk property with Standard Life's Baggaley

Brewin's Gutteridge & Foster talk property with Standard Life's Baggaley

Gutteridge and Foster discuss UK commercial property with Jason Baggaley, manager of the Standard Life Property Income investment trust

Brewin's Gutteridge asks Odey's Tim Bond two tough questions

Brewin's Gutteridge asks Odey's Tim Bond two tough questions

Gutteridge puts the heat on Odey's asset allocation maestro with a couple of tough questions.

Brewin's Foster & Gutteridge: searching for the yield of dreams

Brewin's Foster & Gutteridge: searching for the yield of dreams

Guy Foster and Ben Gutteridge discuss the latest upbeat US payroll report and how it has increased the probability of a first hike in interest rates in June.

Your Business: Cover Star Club

Profile: Creechurch Capital’s CEO on going the extra mile in a crowded market

Profile: Creechurch Capital’s CEO on going the extra mile in a crowded market

Growing a business is the main aim of many company owners but managing that growth in a controlled way is just as important

Wealth Manager on Twitter