Interviewed by Fraser Nelson for this week’s Spectator
(not yet online), the Shadow Chancellor distances himself from what he calls the über-modernisers and embraces ‘the politics of and’:
"I don’t take the kind of über-modernising view that some have had, that you can’t talk about crime or immigration or lower taxes. It is just that you can’t do so to the exclusion of the NHS, the environment and economic stability. I have always argued for a more balanced message, and that is what I hope you would see at this party conference."
The Daily Mail’s Ben Brogan reads this statement as an attempt by George Osborne to distance himself from the modernisers in the Cameron camp and questions the helpfulness of his remarks.
Mr Osborne also uses the interview to talk about immigration – agreeing with David Cameron’s recent statement that it is too high:
"I don’t think we were ready for the impact on public services of a very large number of people coming to this country. Immigration from eastern Europe was 100 times, well maybe 50 times greater than the government predicted it was going to be. So there was a complete failure to anticipate the impact on our public services or indeed the impact on our economy.’ Immigration has been a ‘broad benefit’, he says. ‘But it has put an enormous pressure on some of our low-skilled British citizens who have found themselves in some parts of Britain priced out of the job market. I don’t think we have done enough as a country to give these people the right education or skills. It is no good Gordon Brown saying, “British jobs for British workers”, when he has singly failed to prepare British workers for the ten year he’s been chancellor."
2.45pm: A source close to Mr Osborne tells me that George is not in any way distancing himself from Team Cameron and points to David Cameron’s 7th September speech
in which the Conservative leader said: "Forget about those on the left
who say I shouldn’t talk about Europe, crime or lower taxes… or those
on the right who say I shouldn’t talk about the NHS, the environment or
well-being. That is a false choice and I will not make it… And to
those who think, even in 21st century Britain that commitment and
responsibility cannot be embraced by all, I say: you will not find a
stronger supporter of marriage but why not also recognise the
commitment that gay couples make to each other in civil partnerships?
That’s modern Conservatism."
3.15pm: "The first sign of a possible rift between David Cameron and George Osborne emerged today. In an interview, the shadow chancellor appeared to distance himself from his party leader and friend. Mr Osborne sought to contrast his own political views with what he called "uber-modernisers" – seen as a reference to Mr Cameron and his image guru Steve Hilton… The modernisers around Mr Cameron include Mr Hilton and Nicholas Boles, the former head of the Policy Exchange think tank. The Spectator identified what it called a rival group of "balancers". Tory MPs say this group would include Michael Gove, the shadow education secretary, and Andy Coulson, director of communications." – Evening Standard