George Osborne has good reason to sound smug following his budget, especially as he has the Lib Dems’ popular Vince Cable working ever so hard for him and the darling of the Lib Dem left, Simon Hughes, claiming its a budget for the ‘needy and vulnerable’.
But what must particularly please Osborne is that he’s been able to push his ideological agenda, setting a course to shrink the size of state, claiming there are some functions the state can no longer perform.
The Tories have proved adept at exaggerating the country’s economic woes in order to achieve a level of reform of which Thatcher could only dream. The Institute for Fiscal Studies ran the numbers and found that the VAT rise is not unavoidable. But the Lib Dems appear to be in awe of their Conservative partners. Nick Clegg claimed the budget was progressive.
George Osborne is an ideologue and there is nothing wrong with that. Politicians should have a clear idea of the kind of society they’d want to create. They should have an ideal and have a route in mind.
But the Lib Dems have lost their way. They have become a party of pavement politicians, building a movement of oppositionists by pounding streets with ‘crumble sheets’ to find out what people don’t like and playing their whinges back to them. In this way any core beliefs have diluted to such an extent they have lost all their influence.
Thrust into power they are delighted and relieved to be allied to a Conservative Party brimming with ideas. But they need George to reassure them that he’s just a pragmatist who doesn’t really believe in anything too.