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3 October 2011

George Osborne’s speech to conference – live blog

Minute-by-minute coverage of the Chancellor's speech to the Conservative Party conference.

By Samira Shackle

Press F5 or refresh to see updates

12.37: “I do not pretend these are not difficult days,” he says, finishing by repeating that new catchphrase — “we will ride out this storm together”.

12.35: Osborne says that council tax will stay frozen for another year — which, as my colleague George Eaton pointed out this morning, is an old policy.

12.33: All this is cover for the fact that the government will double, to two years, the amount of time that employees must work before being able to bring an unfair dismissal case. “We are ending the one way bet against small businesses”.

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12.32: “We need to do more,” says Osborne. He says it is important to make it easier for businesses to employ people. The Conservatives are dedicated to employers rights, and introduced the act that stopped children being chimney sweeps — a response to Vince Cable’s description of the “ideological descdents of those who sent children up chimneys”.

12.27: He wants Britain to be the land of the greatest scientists and engineers, rather than China or India. He reiterates guarantee of money for scientific research and calls for a return to manufacturing.

12.26: Says he “shares” anger at the banks, but that there is no point ramping up “populist” rhetoric. He says that the banks employ thousands of people in the UK. Doesn’t mention that they fund the Tory Party, oddly enough.

12.24: Strong words for tax avoiders: “We will find you and we will find your money. The days of getting away with it are absolutely over”. Has Sir Phillip Green heard? Osborne says that benefit scroungers and rich tax evaders are the same problem — and there is that phrase again “we are all in it together”. Brave to use it when it’s been so widely mocked, and shown to be untrue.

12.22: Osborne is mocking Miliband’s producers/predators plan to differentiate between good and bad practice in business. “It’s completely unworkable”.

12.21: Fred Goodwin — who got a roasting in Ed Miliband’s speech — is criticised by Osborne too for putting his own self-aggrandizement above his company. Osborne uses this for a jibe at Ed Balls — if Miliband wouldn’t bring back Goodwin for RBS, why would be bring back Balls for the Treasury?

12.19: The second part of the plan is “credit easing”, to aid investment in small businesses and enterprise. He says that he and Cameron are fiscal conservatives who believe in monetary activism. “If this party is anything, it is the party of small business”.

12.18: Retaining low interest rates are the first part of the government’s plan for recovery, he says. A 1 per cent rise in interest rates would cost the economy £10bn.

12.15: “We are in a debt crisis. It is not like a normal recovery. You cannot borrow your way out of debt”. This is Osborne’s answer to his Keynesian critics. He says that his plan has brought “precious stability”. He neglects to mention the slow growth.

12.13: Osborne is reiterating his dedication to permanent, paid-for tax cuts. “I know we are asking a lot of people. But borrowing too much is the cause of Britain’s problems, not the solution”.

12.11: Resolving the eurozone crisis would provide the single biggest boost to the UK economy, he says.

12.09: Osborne is saying it is lucky that Britain didn’t join the euro. He is praising William Hague for his campaign to save the pound, and David Cameron for limiting Britain’s contribution to the euro bailout.

12.08: Obligatory Eric Pickles fat joke. Poor guy.

12.05: He warns against talking the economy down — this is a change of tune, given that he consistently talked the economy down during the election. Perhaps different now that growth is slowing.

12.04: Osborne has started speaking, and he’s instantly struck a serious note — no easing into it with funny anecdotes. “Together, we will ride out the storm,” he says. Modified version of that much-derided “we’re all in this together” catchphrase.

11.50: George Osborne is due to address the Conservative Party conference in Manchester at midday.