George Osborne

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George Osborne

George Osborne was the Chancellor of the Exchequer from May 2010 to July 2016, having been replaced by Philip Hammond in Theresa May's first cabinet reshuffle.[1]

After the 2015 election, he received the additional title of First Secretary of State.[2]

Osborne was David Cameron's campaign manager for the Conservative leadership. Like Cameron, he was elected in 2001 and became Shadow Chancellor at the age of 34. Osborne says that he is a 'card carrying Bush fan' and British neocon. He is on the Policy Advisory board of the Social Market Foundation.

Background

A former public school boy and heir to the Osborne and Little wallpaper fortune, he says he has been a Conservative all of his life. He describes one of his earliest jobs in politics, as official Conservative Party observer at Labour's annual conference, as the worst he has had. [1]

Roles outside government

Lucrative speaker circuit job

In August 2016, following his demotion from the cabinet, Osborne was given permission by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) to register with the Washington Speakers Bureau and take up employment as a public speaker. Osborne sought to 'make speeches on the current political environment'. The committee approved the appointment on condition he wait three months from his last day in ministerial office before taking up his first commission, that he not draw on any privileged information available to him as minister, and he should not become personally involved in lobbying government on behalf of his employer. [3]

Other Washington Speakers Bureau alumni include Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, Gordon Brown and Sir John Major. [4]

Osborne's profile on the company's website describes him as 'a principled' and 'modern and renowned global leader', responsible for a 'dramatic improvement' in the UK economy, and who offers audiences 'authentic and forward-thinking analysis of the world's most complex economic issues, and the way forward for Britain and the world economy'. [5]

In November 2016, the parliamentary register of interests revealed Osborne made a total of £98,446.40 for four-and-a-half hours of work in just two months. His speeches were made to the Securities Industry, Financial Markets Association and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, California. [6]

Rare ACOBA reprimand for not consulting on new think tank

In 16 September 2016, Osborne launched a think tank called Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said to be his 'major focus' outside of his parliamentary duties. The body will aim to lobby and hold the government to account on devolution for the north, as well as influencing industrial strategy, education policy and large-scale transport projects like HS2. [7] In a Yorkshire Post article, prime minister Theresa May said the government would support the continuation of Osbrone's devolution project, and communities secretary Sajid Javid 'warmly welcomed' the launch of Northern Powerhouse Partnership. Speaking at the launch, Osborne said: 'I'm so pleased major businesses, civic leaders and others have worked with me to create this new Northern Powerhouse Partnership. I'm also glad that the government has given its support.'

Following his appointment as chair of the think tank, Osborne was reprimanded by ACOBA for not consulting the committee beforehand. It cautioned him that he should not make use of 'privileged access' gained from his time as a minister to influence government policy, and that in future the body should seek advice on all appointments before they are announced. [8]

Bush fan

David Morrison writes:

In an article in The Spectator on 28 February 2004, he confessed to being a long term fan of George Bush:
“I’m a signed-up, card-carrying Bush fan. I have been ever since I met him when he was governor of Texas. … He found an answer to this question: what is the Right for in the age of Clinton–Blair? The Conservatives would do well to listen and learn.” (see Osborne’s website here)
As befits a fan of George, he was gung ho for invading Iraq. As early as 29 April 2002, a year before the war, he lectured Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, in the House of Commons on the necessity for military planning for a ground invasion:
“Both the Prime Minister and the American President have made it clear that military action against Iraq is at least an option, even if no decisions have been taken. Can the Secretary of State reassure the House—or at least, the Opposition—that intensive preparations are under way for the contingency of military action, including a possible ground campaign; otherwise, the threat against Saddam Hussein is hollow?”
To be fair to him, he didn’t pretend that the invasion was about disarming Iraq of “weapons of mass destruction”: he simply wanted “regime change” in Baghdad. In a House of Commons debate on 22 October 2003, he was one of the very few backbenchers to defend the decision to invade, and to do it with vigour:
“It is also worth stating in the House that the decision taken that day was right, and that those who supported it should not be defensive about the way they voted. Moreover, those who supported the decision should not feel defensive about saying that those who opposed the war in that vote were wrong. They were wrong when they prophesied a long and bloody war of attrition. They were wrong when they prophesied a mass slaughter in Baghdad. They were wrong when they forecast a humanitarian catastrophe, which never arose. They were wrong when they predicted an exodus of millions of refugees, which did not happen. Indeed, they are wrong now when they say that post-war Iraq is a disaster and that the world is a more dangerous place because we have got rid of Saddam Hussein. We who supported military action should have the confidence to take on and demolish the arguments that we successfully took on and demolished in March.”
Understandably, he has not repeated this vigorous defence of the invasion since, in the House of Commons.[9]

Former Conservative MP Matthew Parris writes:

Listen to this: “England is going back to sleep. And little wonder when we’re told every day by sages in our national media that the War on Terror is misconceived, that the terrorist threat is exaggerated, that what we’ve done in the last three years has only made matters worse, and that the Iraq war was a ghastly mistake that is best forgotten . . . There are few voices to be heard putting the other view: that the terrorists pose a fundamental threat to our way of life, that fight them we must, that Iraq was part of that fight and that we are winning.”
This is taken from an article that appeared in The Spectator only 22 months ago. Its author did not realise that within little more than a year he and his friend David Cameron would be the two most powerful figures in the Conservative Party. Or that in time they would be odds-on to form the next government.
“We did not choose the War on Terror,” George Osborne continued, beneath the headline “While England Sleeps”, “it chose us. We could try to walk away from it now. We could distance ourselves from America, say the Iraq war was a mistake . . . But it would not save us. For remember the words of the Madrid bombers before they set out to kill 200 innocents on their way to work: ‘We choose death while you choose life.’ With people like that it can only be a case of them or us.”
Eleven months after that article was written, suicide bombers struck in London. To what extent this was an al-Qaeda plot is debatable, but Osborne today is unlikely to think his view of the world unsupported by what happened then. The thought, sentiment and fervour behind his article are of a clever, thoughtful neoconservative: more Wolfowitz than Bush, more egg-head than jar-head, but neocon nonetheless.[10]

Stance on fracking

Frackrig larger.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project

In February 2014, Osborne called on environmentalists to drop their 'ideological' opposition to shale gas and expressed strong support for fracking as a means to address climate change in 'as cheap a possible way'. [11]

In January 2015, a leaked cabinet letter showed Osborne had requested ministers intervene in local planning to fast track fracking as a 'personal priority' and deliver on the 'asks' from the shale gas industry. These included resolving the concerns of county councils over impacts to public health and local congestion, on which Osborne wrote 'I expect to see rapid progress'. The letter also indicated Osborne demanded an improvement in public relations by building a 'network of neutral academic experts available to provide credible evidence-based views' in support of fracking, and committing up to £5m of taxpayer funding to provide independent advice to the public in order to 'demonstrate the concept' of safe fracking. [12]

Osborne's constituency hosts six oil and gas licence blocks, awarded to energy companies by the Oil and Gas Authority under the 14th licensing round in 2015. One of the license blocks was given to IGas, while the other five went to INEOS. [13] Across these blocks, there are plans to conduct '2D and 3D seismic surveying', drill a total of seven new shale wells and five 'hrz frac well'. [14] No applications are currently underway.

Voting record

Osborne has voted on one occasion in favour of weaker regulations on fracking, but has been absent several times on other similar votes. [15]

  • 26 January 2015: absent for a vote on making fracking companies apply for an environmental permit before conducting exploratory drilling. He was absent too for a vote on an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill to include an 18 month moratorium on fracking.
  • 11 February 2015: absent for a vote on requiring more pre-conditions for where fracking can take place.
  • 16 December 2015: voted in favour of loosening regulations on fracking in protected areas and national parks.

Register of interests

In my capacity as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, support for my office is received from: Lord Harris of Peckham, Mr S Robertson, of London
Gifts, benefits and hospitality (UK) February 2006, I received upgrades from Virgin Airways on return flights London to Washington DC. (Registered 22 February 2006)[2]

Donations

Complaint

In 2008, The Daily Telegraph reports[16] that Labour MPs John Mann and Kevan Jones had submitted a complaint about £500,000 in donations for shadow chancellor George Osborne. No further details were disclosed.

The Guardian adds that Osborne 'had failed to inform the parliamentary commissioner for standards of nearly £500,000 received last January from bankers'[17]. Again no further details were disclosed.

Received

Osborne received £25,000.00 from the deputy chairman of HSBC bank - Sir Simon Robertson, for four years running starting in 2006.

He received three donations of £12,500.00 from Australian businessman Sir Michael Hintze in 2008 and 2009.[18]

Staff

Special Advisers

Former

Affiliations

Connections

Osborne is reported to have thanked Daniel Finkelstein 'for providing him with the lowdown on the Jewish community'[21].

External Resources

News stories

References

  1. 'Whos in and Whos out? May's new cabinet' 14 July 2016, BBC News, accessed 15 July 2016
  2. Election 2015: Prime Minister and ministerial appointments, 10 Downing Street, 8 May 2010, updated 10 May 2010.
  3. Summary of business appointments applications - Rt Hon George Osborne MP, GOV.uk, accessed 7 November 2016.
  4. Anushka Asthana, George Osborne set to earn handsomely on speaking circuit, The Guardian, 16 August 2016, accessed 7 November 2016.
  5. Meet George Osborne, Washington Speakers Bureau, accessed 7 November 2016.
  6. George Osborne paid £98,000 for three US speeches, BBC News, 3 November 2016, accessed 7 November 2016.
  7. Kate McCann, George Osborne launches Northern Powerhouse thinktank with support of Theresa May, The Telegraph, 16 September 2016, accessed 7 November 2016.
  8. George Osborne ticked off over Northern Powerhouse think tank role, BBC News, 31 October 2016, accessed 7 November 2016.
  9. David Morrison 'David Cameron: Blair Mark II? Spinwatch, 21 November 2005.
  10. Matthew Parris 'Welcome to Cameron's Europe-hating and Pentagon-loving party' The Times Online, May 20, 2006.
  11. Nicholas Watt, George Osborne wants climate change tackled as cheaply as possible, The Guardian, 20 February 2014, accessed 27 September 2016.
  12. Damian Carrington, George Osborne urges ministers to fast-track fracking measures in leaked letter, The Guardian, 26 January 2015, accessed 19 September 2016
  13. Oil and gas: licensing rounds, GOV.uk, accessed 14 November 2016.
  14. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/fracking/12056209/Fracking-plans-to-drill-for-shale-gas-at-68-new-sites-unveiled.html Fracking: plans to drill 68 new shale gas wells unveiled], The Telegraph, 17 December 2015, 15 November 2016.
  15. TheyWorkForYou | George Osborne, TheyWorkForYou, accessed 15 November 2016.
  16. Porter, A. (2008) 'Brown says Hain is just 'incompetent' Daily Telegraph 16th January 2008
  17. Wintour, P. (2008) 'Cameron accuses PM of dithering as Hain refuses to answer ques-tions: Minister urged to provide new answers on donations: Labour hits back with claims against Osborne'. The Guardian (London) 14th January 2008)
  18. Electoral Commission, Donation search, accessed 25 February 2015
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 Register of interests of members' secretaries and research assistants, 23 March 2016, parliament.uk, accessed 22 April 2016
  20. MWW UK Government Chart July 2015, accessed 8 July 2015.
  21. The Jewish Chronicle JC Power 100: Sacks stays on top, as new names emerge. 9th May 2008. Accessed 16th August 2008