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Amol Rajan: Osborne's FT problem

Posted by Eagle Eye
  • Tuesday, 27 October 2009 at 10:50 am
The FT is very keen to both reflect and shape opinion in the City.  That is why it's view of George Osborne matters.  And that is why it's scepticism towards him is a problem for the Tories.  You can be sure that, in its editorial stance towards him, the FT has taken the temperature of opinion in the City, and isn't altogether out of step with it. This worries staff in Osborne's office.

In its down-page item on the front page, and in its leader, the FT gives a thumbs down to Osborne's speech yesterday. (Philip Stephens, meanwhile, writes about potential tensions between Osborne and Mervyn King). The leader in particular is rather scathing, talking about the need for a "journey to maturity" on financial policy, and adding:

***

There was no need to appease the bonus-bashing mob and inflame anti-City sentiment further. Mr Osborne would have won fewer headlines for such an announcement, but he would have been advocating the sort of policy that separates a chancellor-in-waiting from a shadow chancellor.

***

Not very long ago, Osborne went into the FT offices for a lunch with senior staff and the Editor.  A source of mine who was in that meeting has told me that the gathered journalists were almost wholly unconvinced by their guest, and, by the time their cheese plates were taken away, lowered their opinion of our next Chancellor.  In office discussion after the lunch, the consensus was that he had disappointed them.

Osborne is too talented a politician to be seriously damaged by the FT's current stance, and he will have calculated that the cost in scepticism from the FT is outweighed by the benefit in warmth from the Murdoch press (on bonuses, particularly The Sun) and the Mail.  But because the FT is a barometer of City thinking, so long as he has failed to win it over, the impression that the City is sceptical about Osborne will linger.  (Edmund Conway has written rather well about this matter here).

Incidentally, we were more positive about the speech in our leader, and Steve Richards's insight on the political implications of it is typically peerless.

Comments

Osborne and the Bankers
drg40 wrote:
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 at 01:31 pm (UTC)
Come now, this is the usual Tory diversion tactic intended to make us forget that the Banks fund the party. Osborne's speech would have been cleared by the Carlton Club, the Grand Lodge and by Cameron himself.

Osborne's Talent
kelvin_kid52 wrote:
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 at 05:29 pm (UTC)
Osborne is too talented a politician... I see no evidence of that whatever.
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