It is George Osborne who will win the election for David Cameron
It is no secret that I am a fan of George Osborne. Ever since I first met him when he joined CRD I have liked him. He is good company and understands that there are some things which are much more important than politics. In this respect he is the political heir to the great Lord Hailsham.
I first worked with George when he was special adviser to Douglas Hogg at MAFF. These were challenging times. The government had to deal with BSE and I was advising McDonald's. As a result I worked closely with George and saw at first hand just how politically adept he had become.
Another reason for my huge respect for George concerns his love of music. Not only does George like opera he is a keen Wagnerian who somehow finds the time to attend the Royal Opera House. This is a massive plus as far as I am concerned. His recent initiative to find a new concert hall worthy of Sir Simon Rattle is just another example of why George is different to most politicians of his generation. He genuinely understands the value of art and culture in a civilised society.
So why will George win the election for his chum the PM?
The first reason is very simple. George has the best brain in modern British politics. There is nobody in any of the parties who comes close to him in terms of political strategy and campaigning. He is in a class of his own.
The second reason is that he has changed the political terms of engagement. George genuinely believes in a small state and devolving powers as far down the system as is possible. The recession has provided the political backdrop to start this process but he is the first to accept that there is still much more to be done. A George Osborne premiership will see radical Toryism in a modem form. It will be very exciting and will hopefully change the role of the state forever and a day.
The third reason is that although George is part of the so-called Notting Hill set his political vista extends northwards. His belief in a Northern Powerhouse and his devolution of powers and funds to Manchester suggests that he is also the political heir to the great Joseph Chamberlain.
The fourth reason is George's liberalism. Over the last five years he is the minister who Lib Dem ministers have found it the easiest to work with. His views on gay rights, gay marriage and personal and social morality are indicative of a politician who believes that the state has little if any place in the bedroom or anywhere else.
The fifth reason is the Budget which George is about to deliver. The timing is perfect for the most political of chancellors to deliver an election winning set of announcements. It is a given that he will raise the tax free allowance and be even tougher than the Labour Party on corporate tax avoidance. I also expect him to help people on salaries of £50k who are currently clobbered by the tax system. There will also be surprises. Labour advisers are rightly worried that when George sits down the election will be lost. I suspect their fears are well grounded!
This is not my first musing in praise of George. I believed in 2010 that he had the potential to be a great chancellor. He has confounded the critics and Tory doubters and delivered a strong economic recovery. He has ensured that the political debate takes place on the terms which he has set out. He has also modernised the Tory Party on contentious social issues.
I think George has indeed become a great Tory chancellor who will deliver an election victory in May. The question is whether he will be given the chance to become a great Tory PM ...