There are many times in politics when party political interests conflict with the national interest. The best politicians are able to bridge the gap between the two. The greatest learn that the national interest always comes first.
Such a dilemma is presented in the shape of George Osborne. In just a few short months he has gone from the economic emperor, to the naked emperor. Ed Balls in this somewhat stretched metaphor, is the little boy who rightly pointed out that Osborne was – economically speaking – walking around with his chap out.
Post budget, Osborne is hobbled. Osbornomics has been revealed to be based on the mathematics of the madhouse. Without growth, the deficit will never be closed. Perma-austerity beckons. Labour are now seem as more economically credible than the Tories, despite the fact that we oversaw a recession of epic proportions, and have barely begun to undo the reputational damage of those dark years.
If Osborne stays in No 11 and continues on his present course (his reverse gear it seems is reserved for patsy’s and caravans rather than growth and jobs) then he will be the gift that keeps on giving for Labour.
Quite apart from the economic omnishambles he has presided over, he’s one of the least likeable politicians around. Not for nothing did he employ a “submarine” media strategy – only surfacing when it suited him. Lurking beneath the waves to avoid detection. No hate figure he. Barely a public figure at all. A behind the scenes operator. A part-time Chancellor.
Now the submarine is sunk.
And yet, although Osborne’s continued stewardship of the economy would be good for Labour, the British economy could well be shattered after three more years of “Plan A”. And it’s those who Labour exists to represent who will be hit hardest as unemployment remains high, homelessness spikes and communities sink into disrepair and despair. You only have to look at our high streets to see the damage being wreaked – even in leafy Chipping Barnet my local high street is losing shops each week, which in turn are taken over by homeless squatters.
You can tell the Tories are back.
That’s why Labour should be hoping that Osborne is replaced. It’s demonstrably in the national interest to do so, as only a new chancellor will be able to implement the biggest and most important u-turn of all – on the economy. There are plenty of candidates – not least Ken Clarke and Vince Cable. Both are hobbled themselves by the brickbats that have been thrown at them in recent years. Both would be loathed by the Tory right. But both would cause a problem Labour too purely by dint of not being George Osborne.
If either were to replace Cameron’s closest confidante in No11, it would mean Labour’s road back to power would become that little bit steeper – but when have we ever done things the easy way?
But more importantly we might inherit a country that’s getting back on its feet again, rather than one feebly scrabbling around on it’s knees…