Earlier in the week, the current UK Chancellor Sajid Javid said that Osborne ‘would make an excellent, absolutely superb head of the IMF’. He added, in an interview with Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspaper: ‘As you know these processes are never straightforward. But there’s still time to play out’.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse.... https://t.co/P8d9dqaLNd— Neil Clark (@NeilClark66) August 22, 2019
In fact, it’s hard to think of a worse candidate to be head of the IMF. As Chancellor from 2010-16, ‘Slasher’ Osborne was the architect and chief-implementer of the policy of austerity which has done so much damage to the British economy and to the social fabric of the nation.
In his first budget, he announced cuts in government spending of £17bn and a two-year public sector pay freeze. Local authorities forced to make drastic savings, announced the closure of public libraries, or plans to have them run by unpaid volunteers.
While VAT was increased to 20%, Osborne cut the top rate of tax to 45% and tried to introduce a new tax on hot snacks, the so-called ‘Pasty Tax‘. He also oversaw an increase in the state pension age for women to 65, and for both men and women to 66 in 2020 and 67, by 2028. He boasted at a global investment conference that the pension age changes “probably saved more money than anything else we’ve [the Conservative administration] done”.
Osborne froze child benefits and ended universal provision, but in other areas, he was not so Scrooge-like. There was always money to finance regime-change wars, such as the 2011 assault on Libya (cost, put at £320m) and backing rebel forces in Syria.
When Parliament voted against bombing Syria in 2013, Osborne, like his fellow neocons, was very upset. He later described it as ‘one of the worst decisions’ Parliament had ever made. He didn’t seem to care how much the operation- which could easily have escalated into a major Middle Eastern, or even global conflict- would have cost. Strange that, don’t you think?
As Andrew Murray (that’s the former Stop the War chair and not the Grand Slam-winning tennis player), put it in a Guardian column: ‘The calibration of a state big enough to impose its military will on the Middle East but too small to keep the local library open is a study in the contradictions of neo-conservatism’.
But these contradictions are accepted by fellow supporters of the status quo as absolutely normal.
In his 2015 budget, Osborne passed on to the BBC, the responsibility for the free-tv licences for over 75s scheme, which had been introduced by Gordon Brown. This year, the BBC announced they were ending the scheme. Another ‘success’ for Slasher Osborne.
Even on his own terms Osborne’s time as Chancellor was a failure. His stated reason for imposing austerity was to reduce the government’s borrowing and the deficit- and to arrive at an overall budget surplus. But he consistently missed his targets, like a terrible darts player whose arrows never hit the board.
Perhaps the biggest indictment of Osborne's Chancellorship was the 24-page UN report on the impact of austerity in Britain. Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said that the UK government had, through austerity, inflicted ’great misery’ on its people- and said that levels of child poverty were “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster”,
Yet, incredibly and obscenely the former Bullingdon Boy behind these destructive policies is being touted as the next head of arguably the most important economic/financial organisation in the world. It shows us once again, that if you’re in the magic circle, you can do no wrong, even if you actually do immense wrong. Qualifications for the job certainly don‘t come into it. Not having any background in economics, didn’t prevent Osborne becoming appointed Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2004, then Shadow Chancellor (in 2005) and Chancellor, and not having much experience of working in newspapers didn’t prevent him becoming appointed editor of the Evening Standard newspaper. George is an extremely wealthy neocon with all the ‘right’ connections, and that’s all that matters.
Ironically, in the very week that we hear that his name touted as a possible IMF head honcho, the UK government announces it is to set up an independent inquiry into the publicly-funded ’rich man's toy’ HS2 rail project, which George Osborne enthusiastically supported.
Meanwhile, ordinary people can only look in from the outside of the tent with a mixture of bewilderment and disgust -and utterly justified resentment at how the penalties of failure only apply to them.
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The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.