At his speech today in the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Chancellor George Osborne set out what he called a “serious plan for a grown-up country”.
Sporting a new haircut and speaking in a rather mature and serious tone, he said Britain’s economy was turning a corner, but admitted that cutting the deficit was a big concern. He said the “battle to turn Britain around, is not even close to being over. We are going to finish what we have started.”
He said his aim was to achieve a financial ‘surplus’ in the next parliament and to grow capital spending in line with GDP.
The big plan was of course his help to work scheme – which will put the long-term unemployed into work before they receive any benefits. No work, no benefits. He said: “No one will be ignored or left without help but no one will get something for nothing” which of course is a typical Conservative aim unlike Labour.
“Help to work – and in return work for the dole. Because a fair welfare system is fair to those who need it and fair to those who pay for it too” he told conference.
A political speech would not be complete or even normal without a few jokes and some digs at other parties. Making the conference laugh, he took a swipe at both the Liberal Democrats and Labour, including the Miliband brothers. He described Ed and David as “the greatest sibling rivalry since the Bible. Cain and not-very-able.”
He hit back at Labour’s plan to tackle the “cost of living” crisis. He said: “What matters most for living standards are jobs and low mortgage rates and lower taxes.” He then added: “without a credible economic plan, you simply don’t have a living standards plan.”
He said that the Conservatives had done more than any other party for small business owners and added: “We are nothing, if we are not the party for small business.”
His speech was rather positive although it was not as enthusiastic as Ed Balls’ speech at the Labour Conference last week. Osborne was thinking to the future instead of wallowing in past mistakes. He still has a lot to prove and still has a long way to go to win over the public to his policies. He and David Cameron hope to, as the Tories always say, “clean up the mess” that Labour have left. Sticking to the same tune like they always do. Is Osborne out of touch or is the mess that Labour left actually the problem of this economic slowdown?