The lucky chancellor

George Osborne

The lucky chancellor. Neither the slasher, nor the saver, but a politician who has found good fortune and surprisingly so.

The official state of the country's books is remarkably improved, in just a few short months

So, George Osborne has for now, not just enough room to wriggle, but to make big, dramatic moves. And with that comes steady progress in his pet political project, pulling the Conservative party to the centre of politics.

He hasn't just found the money to step back from two enormous bust-ups, dropping cuts to tax credits, and preserving budgets for the police. But the chancellor has chosen to spend his not inconsiderable theoretical windfall of £27bn slowing down the speed of the cuts to government spending.

This is not a set of measures that will be cheered to the rafters by red-blooded Tories, but manna for those who believe their party's future is secure if they capture the mushier middle.

He's lucky too, that while his thumping tax credit u-turn is in part a Labour victory, the opposition is as yet very far from providing the levels of scrutiny a government would normally expect.

For the shadow chancellor who's been criticised for his commitment to socialism, brandishing Chairman Mao's little red book at the despatch box may not be remembered as a finer moment.

Yet while smaller than had been expected, in some departments cuts are being made that could still trip the chancellor up, even with a rosier economic picture.

His supporters may claim he's made his own luck. But it could still run out, and fast.

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