Anthony Hilton: Don't Bank on Osborne as he hunts headlines
Saturday 01 December 2012
I have nothing against Mark Carney, the Canadian appointed this week to be the next Governor of the Bank of England, having never met him, but I am alarmed at the hype surrounding his appointment. Almost every newspaper and news bulletin has reported how he refused to apply for the job and it was only thanks to the persistence and persuasive talents of George Osborne that the Bank finally got its man.
But how do we know this? Carney has said nothing so all the reports about the Chancellor's powers of persuasion and determination, coupled with the hype about Carney being without question the best man for the job, can only come from one source - the Chancellor himself or his spin doctors. But why does Osborne feel the need for such publicity?
I'm old-fashioned enough to expect Chancellors to come with a bit of gravitas and to acquire more as they grow into the role. So I find it a bit unsettling that Osborne should demonstrate a desire to distract attention from his performance in the day job by seeking credit for his success as a head-hunter. It was not what I thought we were paying him for.
Worse, it is even more unseemly to peddle the line that Carney's appointment was a victory for the Treasury mandarins who want the Bank shaken up, at the expense of Bank insiders who favoured one of their own. Treasury and Bank are both meant to be on the same side, working for us who pay their salaries, not engaging in playground turf wars.
Next Wednesday sees the autumn statement to Parliament, when Osborne has to tell us how the economy is doing. The fact that the Chancellor has been so desperate to court favourable headlines this week makes me suspect he thinks he is unlikely to emerge with credit on this next occasion.
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