Coffee House

Boris Johnson sides with George Osborne over more cuts…or does he?

7 January 2014

George Osborne’s speech on the need for £25 billion more cuts has opened up some strange dividing lines in Westminster. Labour has done exactly what the Chancellor wanted and questioned the need for the cuts. Nick Clegg has also fallen into place as Osborne hoped and moaned about them being unfair. But Clegg has found an unlikely ally in Iain Duncan Smith, who has let it be known that he does not much like the idea that Osborne could cut a further £1 billion from the welfare bill. So who did Boris Johnson cosy up to this morning when he had his say?

Well, the Mayor was certainly keen to suggest that he’s not in Camp Clegg, managing to paint the Deputy Prime Minister as a, er, condom for the Prime Minister:

‘I don’t want to get into some kind of endless ding-dong with poor old Cleggers. He’s there to fill a very important ceremonial function, as David Cameron’s lap dog-come-prophylactic protection device for all the difficult things David Cameron has to do. He’s a lap dog whose been skinned and turned into a shield.’


(Is this better or worse for Cameron than being described as a condom himself?)

But though Boris has publicly disagreed with the Chancellor on numerous topics — housing, police cuts, airports, Crossrail funding and Chinese visas to name a few — the Mayor appeared to support Osborne this morning:

‘I think George is right to say there is more to be done to get the deficit under control and to get borrowing under control. The coalition should be looking at all areas of public spending.’

Or was he being supportive? Read back through that quote. ‘The coalition should be looking at all areas of public spending.’ Is that actually a hint that like Liam Fox and other Conservatives, Boris thinks the notion of cutting welfare while ring-fencing the NHS and international development is a little ridiculous? His next statement might offer some clues:

‘I am still slightly perplexed about why we still give aid money to some countries who are on the path to prosperity…do you know what, one of the great things is that I don’t run the foreign aid budget. Justine Greening does a fantastic job’

So perhaps we’re back to Boris being a jellyfish again: he seems all supportive, but secretly he’s still stinging away at his friends and foes alike.

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  • rtj1211

    Boris sides with Marina, apart from the times he’s with some dusky maiden up to no good…….

  • Daniel Maris

    The ring fencing of NHS expenditure is absurd.

    We should look at ways of making savings, even if they are politically difficult. For instance, perhaps we should investigate paying people currently on waiting lists to delay their operations if the payment costs a lot less than the op.

    I see just now there’s a headline in the papers about men being advised to postpone prostate treatment. We need in fact to adopt a much more sceptical attitude to treatments such as knee ops, hernia ops and so on.

    Also I see Osborne is going to raise the minimum wage. That will help, but we need to make work pay in lots of other ways.

    • Rkd

      “Also I see Osborne is going to raise the minimum wage. That will help”

      raise unemployment.

  • swatnan

    You never know with Doris. Johnson says one thing and means another; he would be perfectly comfortable in the Lib Dems. Rather like Churchill a Party jumper.

    • Hello

      I’m sure that Boris would be devastated if he knew you were comparing him to Churchill (perhaps one of the most insignificant politicians ever, and widely disliked).

      • swatnan

        Surely you could not have missed that carefully adopted Churchillian stoop, andpleasing the crowd rhetoric and the carefully contrived photo ops, all classic Churchillian. Shave his head, stick a cigar in his mouth and give him the V sign and … he’s the spitting image.

        • Hello

          So what?

      • Fergus Pickering

        What an extraordinary thing to say. All great political figures are widely disliked. If you think for ten seconds you will see why that must be so. Politiicians who are widely liked are of no account. Everybody liked Michael Foot, perhaps the most ridiculous leader Labour ever had.

        • Hello

          Hmm, not sure I understand you. I was being ironic, and when I said Churchill is “widely disliked” I was also being ironic. It may be true that he was widely disliked, but he certainly isn’t anymore.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Ironic? To what end. Of course he’s not disliked NOW. He’s been dead for fifty years.

            • Rkd

              You can still dislike dead people, Jimmy Saville?

  • Hello

    He went out of his way to portray Clegg and, by association, the LibDems as being in government only to facilitate a Conservative programme. Surely that’s the charge that doesn’t just hurt their political prospects, but it’s like a cancer destroying the fabric of their party membership. It was a brutal characterisation. He didn’t just imply it by a sort of slip of the tongue as usual, he implied it and then came back to it again and again. “Ceremonial function”, “lap dog”, “protection device”, “difficult things Cameron has to do”, “a shield”.

    I wonder if this was a response to Cable’s outings in the media recently, a reminder that the Tories are capable of playing those games too.

    I suspect that for the time being his “jellyfish” qualities are more an attempt to maintain a separate identity whilst campaigning for Cameron than an attempt to “sting his friends”.

    • telemachus

      Johnson is dangerous as shown by Vox Political

      He seems plausible, after all – a bear-like, genial-looking, slightly buffoonish, overgrown child who seems to fumble his way through his commitments, presumably on his way to a social get-together or a recording of Have I Got News For You. A friendly figure who should be taken to the public heart.

      In fact, he’s nothing of the sort. His policies are more right-wing and dangerous to the poor than Cameron’s.

      • Rkd

        Great, he should run. Not hard to be to the right of Cameron btw.

  • HookesLaw

    Funny …. earlier in the year IDS was quoted as being willing to cut welfare at £3 billion a year. Included in this was housing benefit for under 25’s.

    The point about Osborne’s speech is that he points out that there are £17 billion of cuts this year and £20 billion next year and he says we need another £25 billion over 2 years after that. Spending being cut because the part of the deficit that is structural not cyclical.

    What is happening is what the govt promised from the outset and contrary to what the opposition were claiming. The cuts have not been front loaded they were back loaded for when the economy was growing again. The recovery was delayed so cyclical spending continued and revenues did not grow and the deficit remained high.

    Labour and Libs say they do not want these cuts. Well this gives the lie to the nutjobs who always bleat ‘labilbcon’. There is no such thing – but pretending there is simply hands things over to Labour.

    • southerner

      Broon – borrows like a lunatic. Sets himself targets. Misses them by a mile. Ignores and sets new target and then seeks to claim credit for meeting it. Sets further targets for the future. Misses. Continues spending like mad. etc
      Osborne – copy and paste above,
      Blair – PR actor-politician who changes his views with the wind. Pro EU, anti British, etc
      Camerloon – cut and paste above.
      Lablibcon indeed.

      • Fergus Pickering

        You are a silly fellow just repeating what you have read somewhere.

        • southerner

          Instead of the ad hominem you could actually instead tell me what is wrong with my analysis. Otherwise you could be accused of posting a rather “silly” missive which contributes precisely nothing to the discussion.

          • HookesLaw

            Everything is wrong with your analysis, it is not remotely founded on reality.

            • southerner

              Studiously avoiding any of the issues I raised as an indicator of how similar all three socialist parties are I notice.

              Instead of cherry picking differences I for a second time invite you to say where MY analysis is wrong. Just saying it is wrong does not make it so.

      • Makroon

        Southerner – has difficulty distinguishing his back passage from his elbow.

      • HookesLaw

        What you are saying is a load of rubbish.
        The govt are cutting the spending they inherited. They are the recipients of a broken economy and are mending it. Your comparisons are spurious. As an example, hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs have gone. I suspect that the number will continue to increase in the coming year.

      • Rkd

        Yeah but a lot of sound people in the conservatives, and the Tories are moving back towards common sense slowly.

  • Fergus Pickering

    What do you mean ‘stinging away at friends and foes’? Do you mean anything or does it sound good. To you I mean. It sounds bloody silly to me. Anyone who wants to cut foreign aid is to be supported, don’t you think?

    • telemachus

      Friend or Foe. Biting, buzzing, stinging, swooping bugs! Some bugs are annoying. Some are deadly. Most bugs are harmless. Many bugs ….

      • Essexman

        What on earth are you gibbering on about again, Nick Hadjinako, sorry Telemachus ?

        • telemachus

          The Mayoral Bug has a deadly sting

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