The Part-Time Chancellors
The Treasury select committee has complained that George Osborne has made the Autumn Statement a second Budget every year. I have no view on the validity of that complaint, except to say that I would have thought the committee had more important things to consider.
But it reminds me of something Kenneth Clarke once said about the difference between being Chancellor and Home Secretary – after he had been both. The Home Secretary has to take tens of decisions a day or hundreds a week. The Chancellor has to take a decision on interest rates once a month and on a Budget once a year.
After he stopped being Chancellor in 1997, of course, the monthly decision on interest rates was contracted out to the Bank of England, which left Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and George Osborne with just one decision a year.
This was recalled to me as an explanation for Gordon Brown finding the transition from the Treasury to No 10 so difficult – being prime minister is like being Home Secretary, only more so.
Who can blame Osborne for wanting to relieve the tedium of having only one decision a year? No wonder he wants a second Budget, and no wonder he has time to be the Prime Minister’s political secretary too.Tagged in: budget, chancellor
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