He commented at the weekend that it was “not surprising” that he was unpopular, but George Osborne still probably wasn’t expecting to be greeted by a chorus of boos when he presented the medals for the men’s 400m at the Paralympic Games. His initial laughter soon gave way to a grimace as his hopes of ever leading the Conservatives disappeared (parties don’t elect people who are booed in public).
By contrast, Gordon Brown was greeted with cheers when he arrived at the Aquatic Centre earlier today, while Osborne’s future rival for the Conservative leadership, Boris Johnson, received the warmest welcome of all at the Olympic closing ceremony.
I suspect some Tories will try to make a virtue of Osborne’s reception, arguing that it demonstrates his ability to take “tough decisions”. But they’d be wrong to. There’s a difference between decisions that are seen as “tough” but fair (“it’s hurting but it’s working”), and those that, in addition to being seen as tough, are also seen as wrong.