The Chancellor has redefined conservatism for the 21st centuryby Anatole Kaletsky / July 9, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
At 10pm on 7th May, the exit polls stunned the nation, reminding misguided commentators (myself included) that Britain is a fundamentally conservative country, as indeed it has been for centuries past. Two months later on 8th July, George Osborne presented the first fully Conservative budget of the 21st century and we learned what this means for the decade ahead. The message was even more surprising than May’s election result.
While the early reaction to the Budget focused, as usual, on economic bean-counting—the changes in deficit and debt projections, the upgrades or downgrades to growth forecasts, the timing of social spending cuts, the precise meaning of the new balanced budget law and all the other largely meaningless numbers which will be revised out of recognition by the next Budget and completely forgotten by the one after—the political and social implications were what really mattered. For Osborne’s speech was unabashedly modelled on Disraeli’s Budgets, in trying to present a comprehensive Tory vision of Britain in the century ahead, as the repeated use of Disraeli’s “One Nation” slogan made clear.