One of the first things Theresa May did as Prime Minister was to sack George Osborne. Given his appalling performance as Chancellor the only surprises are that it took so damned long, and that the woman who ended up sacking him was one of the only people in David Cameron's government who rivalled him in sheer bloody-minded ineptitude.
Over the last few years I've written dozens of articles criticising George Osborne and his ideologically driven fixation with his economically illiterate "let's cut our way to growth" austerity agenda.
It would take weeks to write comprehensive analysis of all of George Osborne's blunders over the last six years, so I'll just provide a few bullet points:
- In 2010 Osborne promised that his austerity agenda would eliminate the budget deficit by 2015. In 2015 he promised that his austerity agenda would eliminate the budget deficit by 2020. In June 2016 he admitted that eliminating the deficit would be impossible by 2020. In July 2016 he was sacked.
- In 2010 George Osborne staked his political reputation on protecting the UK's AAA credit ratings. Within three years the UK was downgraded for the first time since the 1970s.
- In his six years as Chancellor George Osborne created far more new public debt than every single Labour government in history combined.
- George Osborne repeatedly used his budgets to redistribute wealth upwards. In 2013 he introduced the hated "Bedroom Tax" in the very same week that he gave an average £100,000 per year tax break to Britain's 13,000 income millionaires. In 2016 his "Budget of Failure" came apart at the seams when he tried to hand out yet more tax breaks to corporations and the super-rich paid for through savage cuts to disability benefits.
- In 2015 George Osborne broke the all time record for the biggest fire-sale of public assets in a single year. These privatisations included selling off a tranche of RBS shares at a £1 billion loss, selling the public stake in Eurostar for £757 million (after the UK taxpayer had invested over £3 billion in it) and selling off the remaining 30% of the Royal Mail.
- Between 2011 and 2015 (George Osborne's complete years as Chancellor) the UK current account deficit got worse every year, culminating in an all time record deficit of £96.2 billion (5.2% of GDP).
- George Osborne repeatedly harped on about the so-called "Northern Powerhouse" but the whole thing was a sham. For every £1 per person in infrastructure investment in the north east, London got £24. Additionally it was revealed that 97% of Osborne's Northern Powerhouse staff were based in ... err ... London!
- George Osborne repeatedly turned a blind eye to corporate tax-dodging. In January 2016 he even presented a deal to let Google pay a 3% tax rate on their profits as some kind of triumph!
- During George Osborne's tenure as Chancellor British workers suffered the longest sustained decline in wages since records began.
- As a result of George Osborne's self-defeating austerity agenda the UK suffered its slowest post-crisis economic recovery on record. Back in 2012 the OBR admitted that Osbornomics was severely damaging the UK economy, but Osborne and the Tories persisted with it for another four years.
- Aside from screwing the economy, George Osborne also screwed the parliamentary expenses system by loading his mortgage interest payments on a paddock onto the taxpayer. He then sold the paddock at a huge profit.
Despite all of this evidence of failure and ideologically driven lunacy, George Osborne managed to stay as Chancellor for six years because he succeeded in doing the one thing he needed to, which was to transfer massive amounts of wealth from the poor and ordinary to the super-wealthy minority. As long as he continued doing that he was always going to get a free pass from the billionaire sociopaths who own the majority of the UK press.
As long as Osborne continued giving tax cuts to corporations and the super-rich and turning a blind eye to tax-dodging, the likes of Rupert Murdoch (S*n, Times, Sky), Jonathan Harmsworth (Mail, Metro), The Barclay brothers (Telegraph, Spectator) and Richard Desmond (Express, Star) were always going to give him a very easy ride.
I've been criticising George Osborne for so long it should have felt like a triumph to see him sacked and sent off to the back benches with no fanfare. But it didn't because the Tories are still in power and despite her tirade of misleading rhetoric about how she gives a damn about poor people and the working class, Theresa May has given no indication that she's going to change direction and ditch Osborne's socially and economically destructive ideological austerity agenda.
The problem with Tory ideology is that it's like a Lernaean Hydra. You can cut off some of its heads (David Cameron and George Osborne) but it simply regrows even more appalling ones like Theresa May and Philip Hammond to continue restructuring society in favour of the super-rich minority at the expense of pretty much everyone else.
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