By Peter Hoskin
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There are lots of reasons to believe that George Osborne will remain as Chancellor. Bruce Anderson details one of them in a wonderful article for today's Telegraph: the personal bond between Mr Osborne and David Cameron. I mention another in a column for the Times (£): Mr Osborne is the embodiment of the coalition's austerity politics. To move him would be to suggest that the Coalition's entire plan — predicated on two fiscal rules devised by Mr Osborne — wasn't working.
And it's no use to expect a shift away from austerity, either. Although the last Budget proved highly malleable, the u-turns on charity taxes, pasty taxes and fuel duty hikes were as marginalia compared to the overarching fiscal plan. In truth, Mr Osborne is the government's Unchanging Man. As I pointed out in a line that was cut from my Times article for space reasons, he has really only made one defining change in his political position since ascending to David Cameron's right-hand: the shift to austerity in the first place. And that came about slowly and after much brow-furrowing. It's now strange to think that Mr Osborne first properly mentioned spending cuts as late as June 2009. But as soon as he committed to them, he comitted entirely: fiscal rules, eradicating the structural deficit, the lot.
One defining political change in the seven years that Mr Osborne has been in charge of Conservative economic policy? And it served to mark out the cause with which this government is most associated? Labour may be calling for a second change, a change back to some extent. But you suspect they'll lose their voices before it ever comes.