Douglas Carswell

26 NOV 2015

Blair is back

The Labour party has now lurched so far to the left that George Osborne has decided to take on the mantle of Tony Blair. There is no other way to understand yesterday's Autumn statement.

Labour's shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, has – bizarrely - started quoting Chairman Mao. Really. This has created the space for George – the master of political tactics - to shift left.

And like Blairite budgets before, this one sounded pretty good – but the numbers don't add up.

Osborne announced he was scrapping cuts and going to reduce the deficit. Like Blair, he seems to be over-committing unearned tax revenue before it's even come in.

The real significance of this financial statement is that yes, there will be some fiscal leeway to play around with due to economic growth. But George has, like every other left of centre administration since the Second World War, decided to use the leeway he has to expand the state, not cut taxes.

Billions that could be spent on tax cuts will go on the Chancellor's favourite hard hat projects. The consequences of this choice will be profound.

It means that those who want lower taxes and less government no longer have an ally in a corporatist, Heathite Tory party. George's Conservative party is patrician and interventionist. He even said we needed an industrial strategy.

Here's a final depressing thought: with George at the helm, this year our government will spend more on overseas aid than on the entire Home Office budget, including the police.

Perhaps all this creates the space for a low tax, small government, patriotic non-Maoist alternative?

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