Isabel Hardman

Why is George Osborne sounding so gloomy?

Why is George Osborne sounding so gloomy?
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You might have been forgiven for thinking that things were going swimmingly economically at the moment, given George Osborne managed to find £23bn down the back of the sofa for a cheery Autumn Statement. So why is the Chancellor giving such a gloomy speech today?

Osborne is warning of a 'cocktail of threats' from around the world, and told the Today programme that 'the difficult times are not over'. Given he started his Today interview with what sounded suspiciously like a memorised string of soundbites, he's clearly up to something. Normally that something would be trying to embarrass Labour, but Osborne really doesn't need to put any effort in on this.

Perhaps the Chancellor is just covering himself in case the economy takes a turn for the worse. He's acutely aware that crises tend to blow up out of things everyone has been ignoring at a time when everyone least expects it.

Or perhaps he's worried about the real opposition he's going to face over the next few years, which is from members of his own party both in Parliament and local government, as cuts to services like social care come in. Making the point that the bountiful and safe times aren't here yet is one way of stopping those Tory critics from causing the Chancellor trouble.