On Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday morning, George Osborne thought he’d be in for an easy ride. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
John Humphrys gripped him in a vice on continuing to miss his own arbitrary deficit targets:
Eh, you’re not very good at meeting your promises, at keeping your targets, are you?
Osborne figured he could camouflage his own failures with the usual ensemble of rhetoric:
Well look I promised to try and turn this country around. And with my colleagues in government we can say we’ve achieved a lot of what we set out to do. We’ve got an economy that’s growing faster than any other major economy in the world. Unemployment fell again, yesterday. But we are people who understand Britain has to be prepared for whatever is thrown at it. And the storm clouds are gathering in the global economy.
The sigh Humphrys let out when Osborne began his haphazard rhetoric was telling. This time, he wasn’t about to let Osborne get away with it:
My question to you was based on the the fact, and it is a fact, that you set yourself three targets and you have already failed to meet two of them. A target of debt declining as a proportion of national income, for a start, a very important target. These things were enshrined in law effectively, and you simply said ‘well, we didn’t meet them, but so what, really’.
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Osborne confirmed he’s trying his best:
Well, look, I set out very publicly, and they’re enshrined in the charter we put before Parliament, what we seek to achieve as a government, and what we’re seeking to achieve is repair our public finances…
But Humphrys refused to let Osborne evade his questions, in a game of cat and mouse:
More than seek to achieve.. more than seek to achieve, you were going to do these things and as you say enshrine them in law, and as you say you haven’t done two of the three.
This elicited more fumbling around from Osborne:
Well… John… what we do is set out our plans.. and we’re independently assessed against them…
Then came the hay-maker. Humphrys did something entitled MPs are not used to: he used the normal logic of the workplace on a repeatedly failing government.
I suppose what I’m asking is… What’s a bloke got to do in your job to get the sack?
That is the real question. How much does Osborne have to cripple the UK economy before the electorate kick him out of power? Listen to the full audio, courtesy of The Political Scrapbook, here:
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