In his budget speech George Osborne spoke at length about the precarious nature of the global economy. We were told that ‘storm clouds’ were starting to gather and that we must take action so that we do not suffer later.
Osborne wants you to believe we are a nation on the brink. With him in charge of the treasury, that is certainly the case.
While the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith has placed the spotlight on Osborne’s economic incompetency and injustices, the former Work and Pensions Minister is playing catch-up. In his resignation letter he wondered “whether enough has been done to ensure “we are ‘all in this together’”, yet this is something many of us have been wondering for some time.
Now that the political will to support austerity is also diminishing even within the Cabinet, it is clear that Osborne’s agenda has failed.
According to Osborne’s rhetoric, austerity was necessary to increase growth and revitalise the economy. This simply has not happened. The structural deficit still exists, borrowing is higher than ever and despite the talk of a strengthened position just months ago, UK economic growth has been revised down for every year the OBR has forecast.
The Chancellor has even broken two of the three fiscal rules that he set himself in May. In just ten months that empty rhetoric has been exposed for what it really is. The result has been dismal failure, but this is the Chancellor’s failure - and Jeremy Corbyn is right to call for Osborne’s resignation. Disabled people and young people in work have no more money left to give; meanwhile, rich pensioners and the highest earners in the country are given handouts and generous tax breaks.
For too long, the Chancellor has wished to appear on the side of “working people” while privileging only his friends in the city. IDS noted that Osborne is happy to do this because the disabled, young and underprivileged who would lose out do not vote Tory anyway.
This is a dangerous belief and it is one that makes a politician unfit to govern. It is perhaps the most terrifying truth that IDS has shoved in front of us: the fact that a Conservative government such as Cameron’s will only ever look out for their voters, even while at the helm of the entire nation. It’s all very well targeting your core demographic when you’re campaigning at an election, but to conveniently ignore the existence of huge swathes of the country while in power is nothing short of criminal.
Even the most despised of Tories has now had enough, and that should say something. It’s clear that even IDS, who supported many controversial cuts in his time, realised that staying on after Osborne’s Budget would destroy his career.
But it is the story on the ground that should disgrace the Chancellor. Hundreds of thousands of children live in absolute poverty while parents are forced to depend on emergency food parcels simply to survive. The disabled are demonised as scroungers and their livelihood threatened by never-ending cuts.
Our public services are crippled. We are told that we do not have enough money to support refugees who perish on our borders, yet we can afford to bomb their homelands.
The Chancellor’s economic plan and indeed his own morality are bankrupt. It is time for the Chancellor to do the honourable thing and step aside. It is his one last chance at doing the right thing for the country, rather than for his own interests.