Remember Maggie survived taking away school milk
George Osborne is a bit like Volkswagen – never really loved but until a short time ago highly regarded for reliability and performance. Then came the tax credits – his version of the diesel emissions scandal with the defeat software designed to get round environmental tests.
For the past six months Osborne had appeared to be able to do no wrong. He got much of the kudos within the Conservative Party for the extraordinary an unexpected election victory in May. His budget 3 months ago was well received and he appeared the master of all before him.
This has been reflected in the next CON leader betting markets. The former position where he trailed Boris by some distance changed in late June and George established himself as the firm favourite to succeed Dave.
A problem he has got with the tax credits move is that he could get stuck with the tag of wanting to make the poor poorer.
All his efforts on “cutting welfare” appeared to be focused on the young with him never daring to seeking to get pensioners (the segment most likely to vote and support the Tories) to shoulder some of the burden of deficit reduction. That might appear to have been smart politics but it can appear to be unfair.
He’s also getting a reputation, rightly or wrongly, of being more keen on setting traps for Labour than anything else.
One thing he should console himself with is Maggie Thatcher’s early years as Education Minister. One of her cost reduction measure in the early 70s that proved very controversial was taking away free school milk. Those of my generation well remember the chant “Maggie Thatcher Milk Snatcher“. In the end that did not do her any harm.
Osborne does learn from past mistakes and has shown in the past an ability to bounce back. My guess is that in the short to medium term he’s got a better chance of recovering than Volkswagen.