Geoffrey Lean in the Telegraph reports on
a growing belief at the heart of government that the hostile rhetoric was damaging the Prime Minister’s own credibility and scaring off green investment. Indeed, Mr Cameron is himself planning a speech next month to try to repair the damage.
And today also the Telegraph reports two ministers briefing against Osborne, with one, obviously Eric Pickles, referring to him as heading the ‘Treasury Taliban’.
It is doubtful if the briefing would have occurred had George not been wounded by the budget political disaster of the #grannytax and ridiculed over the #steakbaketax etc. Indeed I dont think anyone has seen such universally bad headlines for a budget.
This wont of course effect the final NPPF as that was agreed on the Wednesday before the Budget – though rumours persist of some arguments over some sections past this point. But what it does show is that if the final version still provokes revolt and is found wanting in practice there will be little hesitation in changing it.
There is some irony in this as Osborne is nothing if not a close student of the ‘unfinished business’ of Thatcherism and how the New Right project on planning failed in the 80s as the government backed down over numerous issues, a similar policy weakening countryside protection lasting but a few months. Osbornes signal last summer of ‘determined to win this battle’ was of a steely resolve not to lose this time, but has doomed him to lose, as it allowed others in cabinet and now number 10 to paint him as a cold, unswerving liability, even for the base. Osborne is wounded but not yet sunk below the waterline. But he will struggle to retain ground especially if as expected growth is fragile, and if we return to to recession because of another global shock. If that happens don’t expect him to be around by the next election.