FT: Tories to ditch Osborne in favour of Hague?

by Stephen Tall on November 12, 2008

A month ago Lib Dem Voice’s Alix Mortimer suggested it was high-time the Tories considered ditching their under-whelming shadow chancellor, George Osborne:

My guess is that Cameron is wincing his way through the current crisis, burying his head in a cushion every time George goes on TV, and he’s planning the reshuffle. He hasn’t spent all this time and effort decontaminating the Tory brand to have his plans trashed by some oily twerp who hides his weekly treasury briefings down the back of the sofa, old mate or not. He can’t afford to go into a General Election side-by-side with a man whose claim to competence is that he “talks to people about the economy a lot”. George Osborne, you are the weakest link. And you read it here first. Goodbye.

A week ago LDV’s Mark Pack noted Mr Osborne’s plunging popularity among the public and Tory grassroots.

Now the Financial Times is joining the refrain:

The scale and substance of the criticisms has reached a point where MPs are openly discussing possible replacements for one of David Cameron’s closest allies. One reshuffle scenario doing the rounds would put William Hague, the former leader, in the Treasury job, with Mr Osborne moved to an enhanced party chairman role that would wrap in his other roles as election co-ordinator and strategist.

… the perception [is] that Mr Osborne, and by extension the Conservative party, has suffered a bad run-up to the recession. His decision to outflank Labour by matching the government’s spending plans and refusing to pledge unfunded tax cuts worked when the economy was in good shape. But the Tories now find themselves in the exposed position of advocating less radical action on tax and spending than their political rivals.

“George was a good chancellor for the good times – now he’s lost credibility,” said one MP.