Tuesday, 21 October 2008
George Osborne and the natural selection of accidents
History involves the natural selection of accidents. The same fact may in one situation have no, or little, impact and in another totally polarise events. The explanation for the difference lies not in the fact itself but in its context - that is the relation this fact finds itself in with regard to fundamental social forces.This truth is shown again in the scandal now gripping the Tory party around George Osborne allegedly seeking illegal financial contributions from Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. A few months ago Osborne was a demigod - the person who supposedly turned the tide against Gordon Brown with his pledge at last year's Tory Party conference to abolish inheritance duty on property of less than £1 million financed by (an utterly spurious claim) that this could be one hundred per cent financed by taxing non-doms (those living/working in this country but not domiciled for tax purposes).By this morning's Financial Times Osborn was already becoming a figure of ridicule with senior Tory John Redwoood admitting that criticism of Osborn had become 'fashionable'. This was before Redwood or the FT knew about the Deripaska story.That latter story, in another context, might have been dealt with as a minor matter. But the reason that Redwood admitted, even before the Deripaska story broke, that criticising Osborne had become fashionable was because of the manifest inability of Tory policy to deal with a financial crisis that requires large scale state intervention. For the party of Thatcher suddenly to become the party of Keynes stretches credulity a bit far.So history found the accident of George Osborne's alleged conversation with Oleg Deripaska to discredit him further - conveniently just what was required by the situation. Demi-god becomes fall guy due to an intervening financial crisis.