Osborne vrs Balls – The Weigh-in

To the frustration of the media, there was no pre-match hype to this first bout between Gideon Osborne and Ed Balls. What they really wanted was a weigh in. They wanted the close-up photo of chancellor and challenger, nose to nose, before being pulled away by their respective camps. They wanted a couple of insults and maybe even some punches swapped between the antagonists. In fact, the meet wasn’t even listed on the Parliamentary Channel program guide.
Inevitably it was a disappointment, since we already know their positions, and that was never going to change. A plan B, produced from a hat where a rabbit should be, would be an admission of defeat. Anyone who remembers the grinding recession caused by the ERM will tell you that no amount of unemployed, no amount of busted businesses or repossessed homes would cause a Tory to admit he is wrong.
However we didn’t know the meet was going to be dull when we switched on. It was only when it was over that we realised that we’d only tuned in for the jokes. Balls won on the jokes, but the real winner of this fight will be decided by the economic indicators, and world’s economists will be watching with fascination.
And for the economists, rather than the politicos, it was a Petri-dish, rather than a boxing ring. The excitement of blood and tears gives way to the observations of the profession that was invented to make weather forecasters look good. On the one side of the dish is monetarism, while on the other, Keynesism. Only one of these beasts can win.
What was interesting was the invisible nervousness of Osborne. He seemed calm and confident. Anyone would think he was relaxed and ready for battle. You’d think he hadn’t given this encounter much of a second thought. But his decision to risk Project Merlin by announcing extra tax on the bank levy, that very morning, gave the game away. He was dreading this encounter.
Here’s the link. Four minutes in.

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