George Osborne was not in London today. He was at home in Edlington, Doncaster, listening in fury to the Budget announced by his millionaire namesake.
The 85-year-old widower makes no secret of his political allegiances, as a proud Labour supporter who worked as a foreman in a tractor factory.
It’s fair to say the only thing the two men have in common is their name. And as far as the one in Edlington is concerned, the Budget will not make any difference to him as “the cost of living is going up every week”.
He scoffed at the notion of “economic recovery”: “They’re on about creating jobs and apprenticeships. OK then, a firm takes on five youngsters as apprentices, they can sack them at any time. There’s no guarantee of work like when I was young.”
And Mr Osborne added: “It’s pretty obvious that the people who are going to get any improvement at all from this Budget are people that have got loads of money.”
He has to manage on a state pension of around £132 a week and a small private pension. “The main items that are my problems are gas and electric. Fortunately I own my own house and don’t have a mortgage, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to cope. At the moment I can cope because I’ve got a private pension. But the point is that I get by all right because I don’t really go anywhere.”
And the pension tax breaks announced leave him unmoved. “I’m a Labour man, but I’ll be honest, Maggie Thatcher did a lot for me with my pension because I had a private pension and she brought tax relief – exactly what he’s doing now.” But interest rates then were 15 per cent. Now they are so low there’s hardly any return on investment, says the pensioner, and there are many others far worse off than he is, he insisted.