An open letter to George Osborne









Dear George, or may I call you Gideon as I don’t often get the chance to use that name?


I see you have a twitter account.

Welcome to 2010!

And your first tweet was ‘Today I’ll present a Budget that tackles the economy’s problems head on helping those who want to work hard & get on.’

It already sounds like with ‘helping those who want to work hard & get on’, you have a new catchphrase to stack up there with the era defining classics like ‘We’re All In it Together’ and ‘Big Society’. Catchphrases that define our times in ways that you probably didn’t intend.

All week I’ve noticed your well fed minions, some with those hatchet faces of people who genuinely don’t care about anyone else, sat on TV mouthing the new ‘who want to work hard & get on’ mantra like it was the magic phrase that was going to get us to the root of the problem and save us all from ourselves!

Are you really sure about this? I mean, apart from a few dole heads and the idle super rich, there are not, in reality, that many people who don’t want to get on. You know this, I know this and even the Daily Mail probably knows this.

In all seriousness you can’t blame the collapse of capitalism on a few potheads sat on a broken settee in some imaginary sink estate in the UK can you? You know, the rest of world that you don’t see doesn’t really resemble Shameless.

George/Gideon, it’s fast becoming like some sort of b movie with you as the boo and the hiss, pantomime baddy, the dastardly villain with the poker face emerging from the shadows clutching a red suitcase who starts slashing away at the cowering masses, muttering about how this is all good for people who ‘work hard and want to get on’. Were those the sort of people in your college jolly japes society, the Bullingdon club? which even former member Boris Johnson describes as a truly shameful vignette of almost superhuman undergraduate arrogance, toffishness and twittishness.”

It’s going to take more than a new twitter account to explain what the economic plan really is. Although, maybe your plan really is 140 odd characters because sometimes it certainly looks that way…

Sometimes I wonder George/Gideon, do you really have an ice-cold heart? Or does that come with the territory, are you as lizard like as Ian Duncan Smith? you certainly don’t seem very connected with the world, with the feeling of panic out here.

Does your little phrase about working hard and getting on apply to feckless multi millionaires working hard at their hunting lodges and counting their money and ringing their sweating accountants and asking them to hide their money in offshore bank accounts so they can avoid paying the miniscule taxes that are thrown their way?

There’s a real sense that your whole thing is a get richer scheme for the super rich and the people at the bottom get kicked around and called lazy. That’s not that fair is it?

These are mean and unpleasant times, that much is true.

It feels like we actually have run out of everything and what’s left we have got to share out. Theoretically.

We are not here to blame you for the collapse of everything, after all there are darker and deadlier forces at work and meaner and stupider and greedier people out there who caused this whole sorry mess and you probably know most of them.

It might be a phase we are going through, the old boom and bust and then boom again routine, although the bust seems to be very permanent at the moment and every hopeful horizon seems to float away into the distance as another European country goes bankrupt and the rich slip away in their private jets blaming the poor.

We know George, that you can’t save the world- even a brilliant mind would be pushed to do that now, but it would be nice if you juggled that budget around a bit to maybe make the people trapped at the bottom have some kind of breathing space.

You just can’t keep giving the rich all those tax breaks- it just doesn’t look good, some say it’s breathless arrogance some say it’s just breathless as the race is already run but being generous people we would like to try and give you some slack here. But it’s not easy.

You come over quite icey and cold on the TV but there are some that say you are actually quite human and get all giddy talking about Eric Clapton liking your record collection- I’m not sure if this is a good or band thing but it’s better than pretending that the Smiths are your favourite band like one of your colleagues does sometimes.

It’s not too late to change, as the minutes tick away and the tinkering with economy that needs to be done sits before you, you could have a Paul on the road to Damascus moment- not on that road this week, though, because that would be a lot more dangerous.

You could be like Ebenezer Scrooge suddenly thawing out and getting in touch with his humanity and sharing the burden of these dark economic times but somehow we doubt it. Give it a go though George, try it and see how much better it makes you feel about yourself…

Previous articleNew artist of the day: Rubberbear
Next articleThe Varukers ‘1984-2000’ – Album review
Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. about time we had a maximum wage, say a million a year ( a fair amount considering i get less than 5k). anything above that should be taxed at 70%.
    the bankers bail out yet they still get vast bonuses. if we don’t give them they’ll all leave the country? so what, let them go, it’ll save us billions.
    time to renationalise. gas, electricity, water, trains. why are we paying vastly increasing bills just to pay their investers (we know who they are).
    most jobs now involve a crb chesk. let do one on politicians, anyone with a record is denied to hold office.
    first bit of monies raised we build a block of flats in westminster where mp’s can live rent free but get no help with a mortgage anywhere else.
    i could go on but would sound like a fucking mp

  2. i absolutely despair at the state of british politics today. The consensus that exists between the major parties is appalling inasmuch as none of them are prepared to really tackle the overwhelming problems faced by this country. One of the worst aspects is the way that so many people feel disconnected and apathetic which of course just means that the politicians will do as they please knowing that most people will just sit back and do nothing. It is tragic how the Labour party has been hijacked by a liberal, PC, economically right wing mob, at least in the past there was a discernable difference between Labour and Tory, whereas now its Blue Labour and New Labour. I really don’t know what the solution to all this is, as far as i’m concerned a withdrawal from the EU must be the starting point. I am not a little englander but i sincerely believe that EU membership has done us very few favours. I may sound like a bitter, disgruntled old man but i can honestly say i have never known a worse time and i lived through the nightmare of Thatcherism, oh dear, oh dear.

  3. This is your best ‘An open Letter to…’ It wasn’t a rant (something i would do, no doubt!). It was funny and made me feel rather sad. You just know that Gideon doesn’t care. Imagine, growing up to be a man with no sense of empathy, no compassion. At least, during the Thatcher years I was a teenager and had some sense of hope (because i was young and stupid!), and punk rock and beer. Now, I’m middle-aged and live in a country run by cold, soulless 18th century throwbacks.
    Life’s shit.

  4. Very well written piece, John. I’m pleased to see that you are balanced enough not to blame the Tories for ALL of our woes. After all, how much did Labour spend on Iraq and Afghanistan, bailing out the banks and Quantitive Easing ? I feel that Labour ruined the country financially and the Coalition simply don’t have the Leadership skills to fix it.

  5. I’ve just read the article about old fogeys ‘festival hogging’ (or something) which managed to get a response of at least a dozen people wiffling on about old farts versus young farts. John writes about an issue that is actually of REAL IMPORTANCE and three people take the time to read and respond.
    I go back to my original end point: Life is even shitter than I thought.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here