Can I have a politician with conviction please?

With a budget that pleases nobody, Osborne has shown that today’s politician lives in fear of the fast food media and lack the conviction to get us out of our mess. Unfortunately that is probably our fault

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Well, how did that go, George?
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Simon Miller
On 23 March 2012 12:15

So that political genius George Osborne has managed to annoy practically every segment of society - well at least he’s being even-handed.

Part of the problem is us, the voters. The left want more money but have no idea how it is to be paid for or the effects of a tax grab while the right want low tax but scream blue murder because child benefit is being taken away.

Our illustrious members of parliament reflect the fears of the headlines. With newspapers and the BBC hitting them everywhere they turn, fast food media is guaranteeing the worst of all worlds with leaders showing the conviction politics of a blancmange.

You may not have liked Michael Foot or Margaret Thatcher but at least they led with their beliefs and convictions, the dynamic between left and right produced results and, for Margaret Thatcher, wins as voters agreed with the messages being given to them rather than terms being issued by the headline. Hell, even John Major and Kenneth Clark had the conviction to commit political suicide to get the economy back on track.

What we have now is spin and muddle, Brownian politics where instead of saying “listen you pensioners have done rather well in the past, but we’re skint and you have to get into line with general taxation”, Osborne talks about simplification leaving him open to attack as it was about the only thing not leaked ahead of the budget.

I may be in favour of as low a taxation policy as possible but Osborne should have argued for his policy. This fear of fast food media left him open to sustained attacks when, if he had actually been honest about the issue, he could have presented it better and may have been able to manage a decent defence of the policy - and I haven’t even talked about the pasty tax.

No, this fear of the media and the confused message from the electorate has left the coalition in a mess, with a budget that pleases hardly anyone and still the most important issue has still to be addressed.

Fast food media and the fear of front pages and headline news showing public sector on strike has led to this budget changing absolutely nothing. Osborne talks about a further possible £10bn in Whitehall cuts through “efficiencies” - whatever that means. In my experience, efficiencies in public organisations usually mean the bills rise.

This has changed nothing. Nada. We are still spending at Scandinavian levels. The fact that the deficit is expected to peak at 76.3 percent of GDP is being presented as good news, showing just how ridiculous the situation is.

And to top that off, if we’re not already in hock enough already, Osborne has decided to lumber us with the Royal Mail pension scheme ahead of a privatisation.

Not only is it in deficit to the tune of £9.5bn but it also leaves us with £48bn in liabilities.

Not that this will show up on the books. Oh no, only the £28bn in assets go on there. In a move worthy of Gordon Brown future governments will find it hidden in the basement, behind a cupboard along with the PFI’s that were meant to be stopped.

Where are the cuts? Where is the plan to get the UK off the floor? Where is the conviction to say the people should have their money given back to them?

Confidence is a tricky thing to pull off but instead of tinkering here and there, Osborne should have been bold, he should have told the unions where to go, he should have given us our money back. He should have made cuts.

Now some say this is a result of the coalition but frankly I don’t care. The Liberal part of the Lib Dems has betrayed its history and the party as a whole cannot fathom the difference between being in government and being in opposition. Generally a good government will not be liked by all; a good government cannot be all things to all men; if it tries to be clever it ends up with the mess we saw on Wednesday.

A senior Conservative politician once told me that even he admitted it felt like a new dawn when Tony Blair came to power in 1997. He hoped that this would bring renewed confidence but, like the rest of this current breed, Blair failed to have the conviction to follow through in his beliefs.

And now we have a government hectoring us on alcohol. It is not the role of a government to nanny us. It certainly should not be the belief of a Conservative leader to nanny us. Instead of looking at the root problem – namely that alcohol in pubs is far too expensive, pricing young adults out of that training ground for drinking properly – this government attempts a form of prohibition.

And you know what? It is our fault. We constantly demand that the government should do something about a situation. Instead of common sense, instead of saying to our leaders “listen we’re adults, give us our money back, give us our freedoms back and we’ll sort ourselves out” we and the fast food media demand that nanny helps us.

Well nanny has spent all our money, taxed us to high heaven and is gradually removing all aspects of the rule of law through retrospective actions and interfering dogma. Instead of shrilling about this and that, we should give a simple message to these politicians, this is our country and it is our money you are spending. We are permanent; it is you that is temporary.

Now excuse me, I rather fancy getting “preloaded” on this sunny day.

Simon Miller is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator and the Editor of Financial Risks Today. He tweets @simontm71

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