Lucky old George Osborne. The shadow chancellor John McDonnell put in a performance of such inadequacy and idiocy when he responded to George Osborne’s Autumn Statement that much of the attention will be on Labour failing to do its basic job. It is an opposition party under a leadership of clowns.
McDonnell actually read from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, and then threw it across the chamber at Osborne. If it was an attempt to be amusing in a self-mocking manner, it backfired. Yet, it was also only one low point in a shambolic, meandering effort by McDonnell.
Osborne was cheered to the echo by Tory MPs, and by many commentators online. His u-turn on tax credits is a masterstroke that proves his inherent genius, apparently.
But hold on, this supposedly genius move by Osborne is a u-turn on what Osborne’s fans were declaring was another of his genius moves just a few months ago. He’s a genius either way. Spot the flaw?
Personally, I cannot take any credit for the shift, unlike 200 MPs, the Lords, 15 think tanks and several newspapers, who are now saying it was them wot won it on tax credits, I admit I was in favour, assuming that the Living Wage and rising wages would all but make up the shortfall and incentivise work.
What a funny old game politics is though. When Osborne announced the cuts in the Summer, a handful of Tory MPs went public in opposition, and were joined later by others. Andrew Percy and Stephen McPartland were viewed by the Tory Establishment as rebellious maniacs who had ruined their careers by daring to oppose Osborne. Now, those same people cheer Osborne announcing a reversal and Percy and McPartland are heroes.
One other observation. Don’t go making any predictions about the Tory leadership on the back of today’s stage-managed show. The government, and Osborne, will be very lucky indeed if it gets through until 2019 with the economy sailing on serenely. Most parliaments contain economic turmoil at some point.