James Forsyth

George Osborne is making the going

George Osborne is making the going
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There are several interesting columns on George Osborne in the papers today. In The Times, Tony Blair’s former speechwriter Phil Collins warns Labour to stop underestimating the Chancellor, who is defining the political battle on his terms at the moment. Peter Oborne, by contrast, is highly critical of Osborne in his Telegraph column, warning that Osborne’s partisan presentation of the cuts risks undermining support for the whole project.

For once, I find myself disagreeing with Peter. I think Osborne is doing some of the political heavy-lifting that Cameron could not do without undermining his standing as a national leader; Osborne’s praise for the 2004 Republican campaign is instructive in trying to understand what is going on here.

Where I agree with Peter is that Cameron and Osborne are not the peas in a pod they are so often assumed to be. They have an exceptionally close relationship but they come at their politics from slightly, but significantly, different places. How they handle these differences over the next few years is going to be crucial. After all, as Osborne reminded us in his speech on Wednesday, ‘to govern is to choose.’