Home > Uncategorized > Lib Dem Values in Osborne’s speech.

Lib Dem Values in Osborne’s speech.

George Osborne delivered his speech to conference today. The full text can be found here.

He blamed the current financial crisis on 3 things:

  1. The last Labour Government
  2. The Banks
  3. The Euro
First two are spot on but the third, i’ll blame that on him being a Eurosceptic Tory. The eurozone is in crisis, yes we would be in more trouble if we were in the euro but the euro itself is not a cause of the crisis.
What he said with regards to the banks though shows Liberal Democrat values:

The banks and those regulating them believed that the bubble would never stop growing, that markets were always self-correcting, that greed was always good, that their ponzi schemes would never collapse, and that none of the debts would ever turn bad.

The message from this hall is clear: they let down their customers, they let down their shareholders, and they let down their country.

This is what Liberal Democrats believe in, its what we’ve been saying for years. What makes it sound strange though, is its coming out of a Conservative Chancellor’s mouth.

Conservatives have this semi-religious belief in the free-market. That the market will always produce the optimum result. Yet here we have a conservative chancellor saying that this isn’t the case.

Liberals believe that you have the right to do what you want as long as it doesn’t harm others. That’s why we fought for and are still fighting for better regulation of the banks because we know they provide a very real danger to the rest of our society if they go unchecked.

Later on in the speech, he commented on this again, regarding Royal Bank of Scotland.

Let’s look at what happened at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

A bank where one individual was so focused on his own success and self-aggrandisment that he put at risk:

– the livelihoods of the 200,000 people who worked for the bank

– the 15 million people who entrusted the bank with their life’s savings

– and the 60 million taxpayers who had to bail out the bank.

That’s what I mean by irresponsibility in business.

Again, Liberal values coming out of a Conservative Chancellor. The collective responsibility, making sure that no one’s self interests blocks the interests of the many. That’s liberalism.

The introduction of the bank tax, the levy on non-doms, the treaty with Switzerland to get back tax money – would all be at home in a liberal speech. The rhetoric on tax evaders is the same that came from Danny Alexander less than 2 weeks ago.

George Osborne’s speech was one that if you trimmed out the euroscepticism out and changed the word Conservative to liberal democrat – it wouldn’t have sounded out of place at liberal democrat conference.

Over at labourlist Mark Ferguson blogged that Osborne liked Ed’s speech so much that he stole some of it himself. Mark says:

Miliband last week: “The banking crisis, MPs’ expenses. Journalists hacking phones. From them all a something for nothing culture. Take what you can. Fill your boots. Who cares as long as you can get away it.”

Osborne today: “So we are repairing the damage of an age of irresponsibility. Ending the something for nothing society that flourished during it.”

What Mark fails to realise is that it is a liberal principle. That “something for nothing” culture is illiberal because of the harm principle embedded within liberalism.

If Mark, Ed and George want to join the party that has always believed in their new found liberal principles, the Liberal Democrats will welcome them with open arms.



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