Monday, March 29, 2010
A Big Day For George Osborne
This is an important day for George Osborne. Today he made possibly the boldest policy announcement so far, promising to abolish Labour's tax on jobs and this evening he will be taking part in a live TV debate with Alistair Darling and Vince Cable.
At his press conference, George Osborne called Labour's proposed hike in national insurance in April 2011 the "economics of the madhouse", and it's not difficult to see why. If you are an employer and see your staffing costs rising by 1%, you are less likely to take on new members of staff and more likely to downsize the ones you already have. It really is a tax on jobs. Osborne has already promised to give new companies who take on up to ten employees an NI holiday. It's difficult to see what better signal there could be that the next Conservative government will have enterprise at its core.
Ah, Labour say, but how will all this be paid for, which, when you think about it, is a bit of brass neck for a party that has plunged us into such levels of debt. However, it's a question which is a fair one, and which got a detailed answer from George Osborne this morning. His answer was in sharp contrast to Labour, who say they want to cut £11 billion of waste and efficiency savings out of the cost of government - but not until 2011-12! Why not immediately? Cutting out waste, and being more efficient cannot jeopardise us coming out of recession.
The announcement puts Labour back too where they were in 1992 - defending a tax rise on people earning £20,000 a year. And £20,000 is not what it was back then...
I am hosting a charity political quiz night tonight, so I won't be able to see the Chancellors' debate (8pm, Channel 4), but I have every expectation that George Osborne will perform well. Yes, he needs to, but so do the other two. What will be interesting is whether, if he performs well, his enemies will be able to bring themselves to acknowledge it.