Debate: After his 2013 budget speech, has George Osborne failed as Chancellor?


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

Chancellor George Osborne today unveiled his 2013 budget hoping to repair a reputation that has fallen dramatically after a spate of u-turns last year and an economy that continues to falter.

This budget did not change the economic narrative as Osborne reasserted his commitment to austerity and refused to borrow in order to boost growth.

Has he failed in his duty as Chancellor?

Case for: Incompetent

If you’re being generous, you could say that Osborne has done well on jobs. Oh and the total failure of his Chancellorship is partly because of a grim inheritance and the ongoing difficulties in Europe.  And that’s about it. On every other measure, the evidence is emphatic and clear: Osbornomics is a catastrophe. Government debt is up by a third. Our deficit may be down – but at nothing like the rate that the Chancellor set as his target. And where is the growth that reduce our deficit, and so get our debt down? It is non-existent, because the Chancellor’s fiscal and monetary policies have constantly failed to generate that growth. He does not have the economic knowledge, the intellectual authority, the professional experience, or the political credibility to continue in this job.

Case against: Hard-nosed

Borrowing has fallen, jobs are up, and our businesses are exporting more to booming BRIC nations. The Government used to spend too large a proportion of national income (over 47 per cent), that number is falling too. Tax cuts - in particular raising the threshold for income tax to £10,000 - will benefit the working poor. Throughout his speech this afternoon, George Osborne was able to call on impartial observers like the OBR and IMF to back up his case that he has handled the economy adeptly. Face it: his achievements are exactly the kind of hard-nosed management our economy needed.