Today’s downgrades from the IMF have overshadowed the Tory conference and pose an awkward question: if George Osborne’s policies were working, wouldn’t they be working by now? Is it time for a Plan B? It’s the biggest issue in British politics right now and we at The Spectator are bringing together two former Chancellors to discuss it with Andrew Neil chairing it. I thought that Coffee Housers might be interested in some details.
Alistair Darling is becoming the most powerful critic of Osborne’s policies. Ed Balls’ attacks can be written off as his usual snarling but Darling is more considered and his arguments carry more weight as a result. He is about the only finance minister in Europe to emerge through the crisis with his reputation augmented, and won Survivor of the Year in the 2009 Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards. He leads the case for the motion: ‘Osborne isn’t working: Time for a Plan B.’ He is backed up by David Blanchflower, perhaps the most influential economist on the left at the moment.
Norman Lamont is speaking in Osborne’s defence. He has known his fair share of economic turbulence, and his tenure is now seen as the start of Britain’s long burst of prosperity. David Cameron famously started off as Lamont’s adviser, and he has in turn been advising the government on the sidelines on how to handle the crisis. He will be backed up by Sajid Javid, who I wrote about yesterday, a new Treasury minister who is fast becoming on the government’s most convincing advocates. He can defend bankers and be applauded for it: he’ll help Lord Lamont defend Osborne which is perhaps a far tougher sell.
The Battle of the Ex-Chancellors will kick off at 7.15pm in Methodist Central Hall in Westminster on Monday 29th October. Tickets are selling fast. We will be posting it online, but if CoffeeHousers would like to join us I suspect it will be a highly entertaining debate. You can book your place here.