As this blog observed on Twitter earlier, Danny Alexander has left it rather late to start rowing back against claims that he has “gone native” in the Tory-run Treasury — telling the Mirror that cuts to the top rate of tax will be brought in “over his dead body”:
It’s worth reflecting on the techniques used by Tory rodent charmers to pacify the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury for this period. Scrapbook’s favourite wheeze has to be the budget bribe (FULL DETAILS) offered to Alexander as the cuts began to bite in 2011.
Danny is the former spinner for the Cairngorms National Park, which covers a large chunk of his constituency. In the run up to that year’s Finance Bill, an ‘unaffordable state subsidy’ (in the form of green tax exemptions) for a monorail track running up the side of a mountain suddenly was suddenly deemed vital.
The thinking behind the edict given to civil servants in 1 Horse Guards Road? As we reported at the time:
Coalition dynamics dictated the Tory overlords should “give Alexander something” for his slavish loyalty.
As shadow chancellor in 2009 George Osborne talked tough on bank bonuses, pledging to curb excess pay across British banks which had been underwritten by the government — not just those which had been partly nationalised:
“It is totally unacceptable for bank bonuses to be paid on the back of taxpayer guarantees”
But despite still being 83% owned by the taxpayer, Osborne has done sod all about bonuses at RBS — and is facing a Commons vote on the issue later today:
Labour are looking to leverage EU legislation on bankers bonuses which came into force on 1 January.
That would be the EU cap which Osborne launched a legal challenge to try and stop.
Delivering a speech on £60 billion cuts coming down the track under his leadership, George Osborne suggested his hosts — West Midlands car part manufacturer Sertec — operated in some kind of vacuum:
“And it’s only because of your skill and your professional approach that the work comes here – here to this company.”
Yeah. And that, errr, £2 million that you gave them. Osborne wittered on about the need to slash the state — but curiously failed to mention government subsidy provided to Sertec helping them to purchase land for a new manufacturing plant.
Back in November 2012, Eric Pickles’ department were only too happy to boast of their role in developing a regional investment site “capable of delivering 3,000 jobs”:
“Local growth is flourishing in Aston and Wolverhampton as a result of locally directed government funding to create high-tech manufacturing jobs.”
“Mr Pickles began his tour at the Sertec Group Holdings in Aston where he signed a contract for £2 million of Growing Places funding from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull local enterprise partnership. This will allow them to purchase new ground at the Aston Regional Investment site and improve its infrastructure connections.”
The vital role of public money obviously wasn’t on message for today.
Today George Osborne is telling us he wants to make £25 billion of additional cuts to clear the deficit — and then continue slashing in an ideological drive to shrink the state. Despite the bitter message, however, the chancellor has received some favourable comparisons with Cameron when it comes to delivery:
One thing that Gideon seems to have learned from the bloke living next door is not delivering a message about ‘permanent austerity’ while wearing a dinner jacket and standing at a gold lectern. The last big speech which articulated the smaller state narrative was given by David Cameron at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in November — where he literally sat on a gold chair.
By way of contrast, Osborne is speaking about “hard truths” from the factory floor of automotive parts manufacturer Sertec in the West Midlands.
No reprise of his mockney ‘Briddish’ accent though.
The Conservatives have been caught attacking trade unions while simultaneously relying on them to cover up falling living standards. David Cameron was quizzed on falling living standards at PMQs moments ago — after it emerged last week that George Osborne had spun his figures to include the activities of charities and universities to suggested that disposable incomes were going up — a claim rejected by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
By adopting the National Accounts measure of “non-profit institutions serving households” (NPISH), Osborne was able to ‘free up’ household income by offsetting services provided by such bodies. Humiliatingly for the Tories, who have been at loggerheads with the labour movement since coming into office, the NPISH definition also includes those nasty trade unions!
Doubtless Dave and George’s thank you note to general secretaries is in the post.
While Treasury ministers have seemed loathe to disclose details in parliament, Scrapbook can reveal that George Osborne finally visited a food bank on 25 October — just eight months after David Cameron and ten months after he was invited to do so by the chief executive of the UK’s largest food bank network.
During his visit to Bethel Food Bank, which helps to distribute up to one tonne of food aid each month, Osborne actually spoke to a user of the service — in marked contrast with David Cameron, who refused to meet any struggling families. If this was an attempt to the neutralise the issue he has failed, however, with a petition on UK hunger from ‘poverty cooking’ write Jack Monroe poised to cross the threshold for online petitions to be debated in parliament.
Trussell Trust boss Chris Mould told Scrapbook:
“We are pleased that George Osborne dropped in to his local foodbank. We encourage all our foodbanks to engage their constituency MPs because foodbanks are a vital part of civil society. It is very important that MPs understand how foodbanks work, and that they meet the people foodbanks help.”
It only took him 308 days.
Asked about taking his own government’s advice and switching energy suppliers on the Today Programme this morning, George Osborne’s response was right there with “I have a breadmaker”:
Humphrys: “Have you changed your energy supplier as the leader of the opposition has?”
Osborne: “I live in Downing Street”
You could almost hear him willing the words back into his mouth.
Having been doing viral toys such as Ask Murdoch and the Liam Fox Business Card Generator since Us vs Th3m was a twinkle in Trinity Mirror’s eye, Scrapbook is returning to the microsite frey with HasGeorgeOsborneBeenToAFoodBankYet.com.
In an interview with Mehdi Hasan last December, Trussell Trust food bank director Chris Mould said:
“My message to George Osborne is: come to our food banks.”
Our new site keeps track of the number of days that Osborne has snubbed this invitation. Let’s just say it’s been a while:
Osborne is having a laugh.