Osborne urges '100% focus' on economy after election defeats


The chancellor reacts to criticism from Conservative MP Nadine Dorries

George Osborne has said his party will focus on what matters to the public amid criticism from Conservative MPs in the wake of local election defeats.

Some Tories have urged the coalition to drop plans for electing the House of Lords and legalising gay marriage in favour of more populist policies.

The chancellor told the BBC ministers should "focus 100%" on the economy and not get "distracted" by other issues.

But they would still do "socially progressive" things, he insisted.

He was responding to criticism of the coalition's direction and priorities from some Conservative-supporting newspapers and backbench Tory MPs.

On Wednesday, the coalition will outline its agenda for the next year in the Queen's Speech, as it tries to regain the initiative after both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems suffered heavy losses in local elections.

'Change direction'

Many Conservative MPs want ministers to use the occasion to assert more traditional Conservative priorities on issues such as welfare, crime and tax and either delay or abandon proposals to legalise gay marriage and reform the House of Lords, seen predominately as Liberal Democrat ideas.

Mr Osborne told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that "100% of our efforts need to be directed" at fixing the economy, which is back in recession.


"Incompetent" and "out of touch" - those have been the two most damaging charges against the coalition in recent weeks.

After the hammering in local elections, ministers are pressing the reset button.

George Osborne had one central task today: To persuade voters that he understood their concerns, and would act on them.

There would be no time for any "distractions".

So House of Lords reform will be discussed by Parliament, but it wasn't a priority.

Consultation would continue on gay marriage, but there will be no legislation for it soon.

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg are preparing to renew their vows.

But, with the Leveson Inquiry rumbling on, the economy stubbornly refusing to grow, and Tory and Lib Dem backbenchers agitating, there are plenty of "distractions" ahead.

While he believed the "national mood" was behind the need to get the deficit under control, he said he accepted many people were having a "very tough" time and had either backed other parties or not voted at all in last week's elections.

"The government understands your message. We take it on the chin and we have got to learn from what you are saying... what people are saying is focus on the things which really matter like the economy, welfare, education, crime and healthcare... and not get distracted by too many other issues".

Asked about plans to reform the House of Lords - which senior Tory Tim Yeo said should be "relegated right down to the bottom of the queue" - he said Parliament should debate the issue but it was not an "overriding" priority.

On proposals to legalise gay marriage by 2015, Mr Osborne said "we are a socially progressive country and it is something I support" but opposing views had to be listened to in a future consultation.

Earlier, Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries told the Stephen Nolan show on Radio 5 live the Conservatives could see even bigger losses in council elections next year unless the party "changed direction".

On the issue of leadership, Ms Dorries - a frequent critic of the prime minister and chancellor - said some of her colleagues could push for a confidence vote in the prime minister unless the situation improved in the next year and the issue was already being "discussed".

But her colleague Robert Halfon said the majority of MPs were "supportive" of the PM as the government confronted a very difficult economic situation and Conservative peer Lord Fowler said Mr Cameron should "stick to his guns".


For Labour, shadow chancellor Ed Balls said David Cameron and George Osborne had been "rattled" by the election results.

"For the Conservatives, it is much more deeper than mid-term blues," he told the Sunday Politics. "It is about an economic failure and a sense that Conservative leaders are out of touch and making the wrong calls about tax and fairness in the economy."

While Labour supported plans to reduce the deficit, he said the government's austerity plan was self-defeating and Mr Osborne was "in a hole" and "should stop digging".

Labour are calling for "practical steps" in this week's Queen's Speech to ease the burden on living standards, such as caps on rail fare rises and employment guarantees for young people.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1268.

    I suggest people start frequenting blogs such as ZERO HEDGE or THE SLOG, this is where you will find the real news on what is about to happen in the global economy.

    The BBC will not show you what is really going on.

    This comment section is to gauge publics reaction to events.

    They kept HYS open for 2 days on the new monitoring laws that were brought in

    The government are preparing for collapse

  • rate this

    Comment number 1267.

    Osborne is not taking the hard decisions. He attacks the teachers' pensions & salaries as unaffordable but does nothing about those of the MPs. We are not in this together. He is protecting the rich at the expense of the poor. He is totally out of touch.Growth requires planning & organization which is lacking.Use the unemployed to repair empty homes & house the homeless & set up businesses .

  • rate this

    Comment number 1266.

    In the past - not so long ago - most of our ancestors were subservient to Lords and Masters and toiled to keep them in luxury.

    Today we toil to keep the new masters (bankers - politicians - global company bosses ("give me a £1,000,000 or bonus on top of my obscene salary") etc. in luxury.

    A new renaisance is needed - or even a revolution - and it will come and bring new despots with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1265.

    Re 1238. ChasBG
    Gordon Brown had his faults but his management of the economy was much better than anything we have seen under Osborne’s woeful stewardship. When the Coalition came to power, the economy was recovering quite strongly: since then it has stagnated in the wake of their austerity policies. If they tried fixing growth, they’d find that the deficit would fix itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1264.

    Two years gone, three to go. You will all have a chance to vote again. Will it be Labour or Conservatives? No Liberal Democrats to get in the way of the two party state next time around.

    Do you want austerity or errm austerity? Why not choose a third way? No say the electorate, we all like FPTP as it gives us "strong" government.

    The NHS is safe in our hands. More PFI contracts needed. Nooooooo!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1263.

    Which 'public', Mr Osborne, the one that's shouting & bawling about the drubbing Cons got want different things to the one that has voted Labour. The hecklers on the Cons back benches want tax cuts, more welfare cuts, all the things that have got the Cons into trouble.
    The Cons did not get hammered because of Lords Reform, or Gay marriage or even immigration but about food on the table

  • rate this

    Comment number 1262.

    The liblabcon party failed as separate entities, they are now failing as a one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1261.

    The government needs to focus 100% on the environment. Then work out how an economy can operate without doing further damage to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1260.

    Re 1175 SaveourCountry.
    Slugs are not arrogant. In fact, they've quite self-effacing, almost pathologically so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1259.

    Posh Osbourne Saying that the nasty party are now going to focus on what matters to the public, by implication means they were not doing so before. Its hardly praiseworthy, that they now realise after electorally being trounced that they must have been wrong. They are too out of touch with ordinary people to be at all believable, and this statement enhances that view not diminishes it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1258.

    I am tired of the spacewasters who bang on about the bbc being biased. Why don't you go and post on the Daily Mail or Sun websites? They are far more impartial and cover a far bigger audience. Byeee.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1257.

    . misallot
    Mr. Max 1205

    "The last time I checked the govt. didn't have any of its own money it redistributes OURS. The taxpayer - you and me - are the majority shareholders in RBS...and we fund the Treasury"

    ...just realised..?...add Lloyds...

    .."aided and abetted by a govt who relaxed financial controls to non-existent levels"

    ...yeah..that was Labour...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1256.

    Neither party will reduce the fake deficit the idea is to keep us all in debt forever. Governments have the ability to create their own money there is no need to borrow from private banks so why do they? They are working for the banks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1255.

    Mitzi, the souvenirs etc could have been made by our own workers but shock horror, because they are too expensive, unreliable and (like the tube workers and other workers in London have done) they will use the Olympics to get what ever they can from them by blackmailing the employers with strike action. There's your answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1254.

    We need to diversify our economy. Get tough on multiple property owners, build more houses, get house prices back down to a sensible level, get manufacturing going - and not just foreign companies - we need UK companies manufacturing that is what will help our economy the most. I'm sick of Ed Miliband he doesnt have any ideas he just opposes everything. Who could vote vote someone like that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1253.

    1238. ChasBG

    Why is it that both the Eds (mr bean and fatty) never say exactly how they would reduce the deficit? Its because they will have to do exactly the same things as the coalition
    You have a point regarding Labour.

    Perhaps they'll decide that the doubledipstick has indeed done a sterling job and there is nothing anyone can do... apart from privatising and lowering top rate tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1252.

    You wouldn't get a plumber to fix a car any more than you would expect a graduate with a poor degree in history to run the economy. It is obscene to have such a bunch of unqualified amateurs running the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1251.

    Little Georgie let the economy go to ruin because he was busy, busy

    privatising an NHS hospital
    readying the Post Office for privatisation
    giving a nice tax break to rich people
    shafting the elderly
    turning over ownership of our nuclear industry to France
    turning a blind eye to utility companies robbing consumers
    watching our infrastructure crumble
    watching bankers getting even richer


  • rate this

    Comment number 1250.


    I would watch this video if i were you.


    You are taxed because of fractional reserve banking.

    Abolish FRB and you would no longer need to pay income tax.

    We are living in the biggest long con the world has ever seen.

    FRB is responsible for all the misery and suffering in the world yet mr osborne does not mention it ??????????????

  • rate this

    Comment number 1249.

    "When the conservatives and liberals came to power they told it is was going to be tough"

    Yeah - but they also said IT WOULD WORK.

    When this incompetent clown says "we won't be distracted", what most intelligent, right-minded people hear is "We won't admit we got it massively, massively wrong - but don't actually care".


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