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.

Analysis

"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".

'Rattled'

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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  • Comment number 1728.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1727.

    A government's primary role is to safeguard, maintain and enhance the means to the best quality of life for its indigenous people.

    The govt. should start ignoring those EU rules that seem designed to oblige ONLY the UK to pander to (and pay for) the interests of other races, religions, minorities, foreign institutions and nations.
    France gets away with it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1726.

    OK I have to admit now before this turns into a flame war, I'm like Dr. Strangelove, only instead of a hand I've got a Socialist conscious (split personality) that escapes every now and again and tries to kill me for capitulating with those bourgeoisie pigs... Sorry I lost it for a moment, I'm in full control. Now what was I saying... Yes, apologies all around for my Socialist rant before.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1725.

    Gideon has a one track policy. He has decided. He will see it through to the bitter end. Don't get distracted. Don't listen to reason.

    Obviously a characteristic drummed into him when he was at Eton.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1724.

    @1717.Andy

    I thought Golgotha was being sarcastic but was that comment for real? Unbelievable!

    It would push Labours current policy of borrowing more to end a debt-caused recession for stupidity. Poor Golgotha.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1723.

    1714.Billythefirst
    So you agree with me, self regulation was never going to work and that Nu-Labor wasted 13 years of opportunity to do something constructive about it. Instead they set up the FSA, GB's answer to all that's wrong with banking, but it failed. Even this current bunch accept that there has to be stronger regulation, they just don't know what to do about it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1722.

    #1715 Tel's Tales
    I'm guessing your property portfolio includes a luxury development in Trumpton, near Windy Miller's pad.
    If you're going to try to be someone else at least make it semi plausible.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1721.

    Wheres Callaghan and Healey when you need them ?

    Squeeze the property developers until the pips squeak ( not rich as is so often mis-quoted).

    1717. Andy
    You are living in a socialist dream world. Get back to North Korea and see where socailism gets you.
    +++
    Whats North Korea got to do with Socialism?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1720.

    1717.Andy

    Yeah, one day you'll wake up from your opiate dream of T.V. and Big Macs and realise that you live in a, Plutocratic system and are ruled by an Oligarchy supported by naked Cronyism... I mean a "Demockery"... Sorry, I mean a Democracy. Then you will realise it was you who was in a dream world! Muwhahahaha.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1719.

    1710. ziggyboy

    Unfortunately we will have to suffer under these clueless people for another 3 years whilst they do untold damage to the economy. Might they do or have done something unforgiveable and they have to go?

    --

    The only way that can happen is if if a motion for an early general election is agreed by at least two-thirds of the whole House.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1718.

    1712. Andy
    "Everytime there is a Labour govn we are in debt, the tories have to sort it out..."
    //////
    Well, they're unable to sort it out this time. We should have kept Gordon in place, challenged him by exerting people power to sort it and then kick them out. Vicious circle broken. But then, your allegation is incorrect anyway, so it's all hypothesis, init.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1717.

    1711.
    Golgotha
    1 Minute Ago

    We should requisition all assets from and liquidate the rich. It will be hard work and get us out of this mess. See, compromise my dear boy, compromise.

    You are living in a socialist dream world. Get back to North Korea and see where socailism gets you.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1716.

    1185.Jan-Ann
    6th May 2012 - 17:04

    "It's a dictatorship"

    I'm glad it's not just me, i've been thinking the same thing for a while now.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1715.

    1708.Billythefirst
    It's all down to the paperwork. It's what you say, not what you do. You'll learn when you mature, one day you will understand how things work and then you will understand how to get the best out of the system.

    One of life's lessons, if you have a resource that can help you then use it to the max - thats a Good Accountant, worth their weight in gold!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1714.

    1709. Tio Terry

    1700.Getitright
    The financial crisis was caused by Browns inability to regulate the banking industry adequately - even he has admitted that.
    -------
    Tel, Cameron had exactly the same views on deregulation - tories love deregulation, it's a core value.
    Tories don't argue with banks and the banks weren't going to self regulate.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1713.

    @1700.Getitwrong

    ''...UK recession is mainly home grown - we've gone from growth to recession as a result of excessive spending cuts...''

    UK recession started in 2008 before gov't spending cuts were even announced!

    Anyway, govt defecits not principally caused by Labour - never said that. All I said was that further borrowing (planned by Labour) would only exacerbate the situation.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1712.

    Let's vote Balls back in, he had nothiing to to do with the mess we are in, and was not Gordon Brown's advisor......who let the lunatics out of the asylum??!!!
    Everytime there is a Labour govn we are in debt, the tories have to sort it out, are unpopular because of this and get voted out..Labour overpend and so on, in summary, labour buy peoples votes.
    Labour cannot manage an economy, never have.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1711.

    1706.Andy

    "Tax the rich, take more of their earnt money, when will this country stop wanting to be handed everything on a plate and work hard to get us out of this mess"

    We should requisition all assets from and liquidate the rich. It will be hard work and get us out of this mess. See, compromise my dear boy, compromise.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1710.

    The result in the French Election should be a warning to the ConDems who obviously have no concept of how Joe Public actually thinks. They could and should be out faster than they were voted in. Unfortunately we will have to suffer under these clueless people for another 3 years whilst they do untold damage to the economy. Might they do or have done something unforgiveable and they have to go?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1709.

    1700.Getitright
    The financial crisis was caused by Browns inability to regulate the banking industry adequately - even he has admitted that. This country is still borrowing more than it earns, how can you say "excessive spending cuts" when we are building up massive debts for our children to deal with? Get real, there are more cuts to come.

 

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