The hackneyed metaphor of “poacher-turned-gamekeeper” is appearing everywhere in the political blogosphere as the Treasury confirmed that the Chancellor, George Osborne, has nominated Robert Chote, the former director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, to succeed Sir Alan Budd as chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility. The Treasury select committee is unlikely to veto the nomination.
During Chote’s tenure, the IFS became a universally respected voice on public finances, taxation and public spending. A recent, much-reported IFS study (PDF) denounced Osborne’s emergency Budget as “clearly regressive”. Nick Clegg may have some more clarifying to do, having previously slammed the report as “by definition partial“.
The appointment shows political nous, following doubts earlier this year that the OBR had attained independence from the Treasury under Budd, who quit after only three months in the job.
To use another tired old adage, Osborne may also have had President Lyndon B Johnson’s judgement of J Edgar Hoover in mind when giving Chote the nod.