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If Osborne gets this right today could be the game-changer that gives the Tories hope again

December 5th, 2013

Or it could just go plop and not make an impact

We all remember that speech by Osborne at the October 2007 Tory conference that arguably changed the whole narrative and stopped Gordon Brown from going ahead with an autumn general election.

In it Osborne, then shadow chancellor, called for a big easing of the inheritance tax rules which seemed to chime with the voters. It forced the then LAB chancellor, Alistair Darling, to use his autumn statement a few weeks later to bring in his IHT changes which gave the impression that it was the opposition that was setting the agenda.

    That’s the challenge for Osborne today. How can he take the sting out of Miliband’s energy prices move without it appearing that it is the opposition leader who is making the weather?

For there’s little doubt that Miliband’s conference energy cap pledge has transformed the political discourse and he is in a stronger position today than he was before conference season.

The Autumn Statement provides the ideal peg to turn the debate back to territory where the Tories are perceived to be strong – managing the economy. There has been positive news on that in recent weeks but Osborne has to be careful about how he plays it. For most people have yet to feel the benefit and it could be some time before they do. Claiming credit too early is dangerous.

The other big element that the economy does is to switch attention from a policy area that in previous times used to benefit the Tories but now only seems to help UKIP – immigration.

Whenever the narrative has moved to this in the past year it has been the purples not the blues who have benefited. We’ve got to a stage where like the NHS, the best thing that the Tories can do is keep quiet.

So a big day ahead.

Mike Smithson

Blogging from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble since 2004