Peter Hoskin

Osborne banks on “debt responsibility”

Competent performance from George Osborne just now, setting out the Tories’ “new banking settlement” by which – among other things – the Bank of England would have greater powers to “call time on excessive debt”.  It sounds promising enough.  But, as usual with regulatory systems, the proof of this particular pudding will come with the eating.  Only a Tory government will let us know how it works in practice.

Aside from that, Osborne dwelt on the familiar touchstones – welfare reform, schools reform, an Office for Budget Responsibility etc.  Although it seems to me that the Tories are now taking greater pains to set out just how difficult things will remain for the next government.  For instance, there was this observation from the Shadow Chancellor:

“Let’s face it: there’s no immediate end to [taxpayer support] of [the financial] sector … and components of it may remain in place for years.”

All-in-all, the message is “Change …  but with restrictions imposed by Brown’s government”.  Strategically, it’s now important for the Tories to set out what those restrictions might be.  Hence the idea of a ‘Labour Domesday Book’.

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