Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
  2. Economics
25 July 2011

A crucial 24 hours for Osborne

Osborne will have to defend a failing economic strategy and his meetings with Murdoch executives.

By George Eaton

For George Osborne, the man increasingly spoken of as the next Conservative leader, the next 24 hours will prove crucial. The GDP figures for the second quarter of this year will be released tomorrow at 9:30am (Osborne will see them today). And, as I noted yesterday, there are those who think the figures will be bad for the Chancellor and then there are those who think they will be terrible.

No one believes the economy grew by 0.8 per cent in Q2 – the figure Osborne needs to meet the OBR’s growth forecast for the year – with many predicting flat or even negative growth. Citigroup and Scotia Capita, for instance, believe that the economy shrunk by 0.2 per cent over the last three months. With an increasingly assertive Vince Cable calling for further quantitative easing and Ed Balls winning more support for a temporary cut in VAT, Osborne is set to come under greater pressure than ever to change course.

But that’s not all. The Chancellor is also set to be drawn further into the Murdoch scandal. The government is expected to publish details of cabinet ministers’ meetings with media executives shortly (possibly tomorrow), including, naturally, Osborne’s. It emerged over the weekend that the Chancellor flew to New York and had dinner with Rupert Murdoch just two weeks before Ofcom decided whether to refer News Corp’s BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission.

Osborne is renowned as one of News International’s biggest cheerleaders in government. It was him, not David Cameron, who first suggested appointing Andy Coulson as the Conservatives’ director of communications. A string of meetings with News International executives would leave Osborne with a lot of explaining to do.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy